Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Escape From New York (1981)

1997.  Manhattan has been a maximum security prison the last nine years after crime had risen 400%.  And there is no getting out.  When the president's plane is hijacked and crashes in The Big Apple, the government offers a deal to one-eyed badass Snake Plissken, a former soldier.  If he goes in and rescues the president, he'll receive a pardon for attempting to rob the Federal Reserve.  Snake infiltrates the city and mingles with the colorful and deviant denizens as he tries to locate the president.  He ultimately completes his mission after fighting in the ring and dodging bullets and bridge mines.

John Carpenter was 3 for 3 with Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)Halloween (1978) and The Fog (1980), all which are in my top 10 favorite films.  He continued his success with his cult classic action film Escape From New York.  Co-written in the mid 1970s with frequent collaborator Nick Castle, Escape From New York was able to be produced after Carpenter's success with Halloween.  Having only directed low budget films until that point, Escape was given 6 million dollars.
Shooting in New York would be a logistical and economical nightmare so St. Louis was chosen as the main location.  The city was ravaged by a fire in 1976, leaving blocks of buildings in ruins and providing the exact post-apocalyptic look that was needed.  An incredible miniature of lower Manhattan was constructed and several matte paintings created, including one by James Cameron of Central Park for some special effects shots.  John Carpenter once again assembled the company of actors from his earlier classics.  Kurt Russell has gone on record saying Snake Plissken was his most favorite role of his career.  Escape From L.A. was released 15 years later which was by far inferior had some moviegoers escaping from the theater. 

Escape From Anywhere But New York was filmed in St. Louis, MO, Los Angeles, CA, Atlanta, GA and New York, NY

Location: The Helicopter Landing 
Address: North Broadway & St. Charles Street, St. Louis, MO

Location: Escape Pod Crash Site
Address: St. Charles Street between 17th & 18th Streets, St. Louis, MO

Location: Air Force One Crash Site
Address: N 21st Street between St. Charles Street & Olive Street, St. Louis, MO

After production designer Joe Alves, who worked on Jaws (1975) and directed Jaws 3 (1983), and his team scattered debris on the streets of St. Louis, residents called the police and newspapers claiming to be eyewitness to the plane crash...

Location: Broadway
Address: Locust Street between 21st & 22nd Streets, St. Louis, MO

Location: Theatre Exterior
Address: 527 North Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, MO   Fox Theatre

Location: Alleyway Near Library
Address: W 16th Street between Washington & Lucas Avenue, St. Louis, MO

Location: New York Public Library Exterior
Address: 3681 Lindell Boulevard, St. Louis, MO   New Masonic Temple

Location: Grand Central Station
Address: 1820 Market Street, St. Louis, MO  St. Louis Union Station

St. Louis Union Station is a Historical Landmark and was once the largest station in the world.  The last train departed in 1978.  In the mid-1980s, after a major renovation, Union Station reopened with a hotel, shopping center and restaurants.  It saw further expansion in the 2000s as home to the St. Louis Aquarium and The St. Louis Wheel, which the first area we see of Grand Central off N 20th Street & Clark Avenue...

The back entrance of Grand Central is just a few yards down on N 20th Street at the corner of Market Street...

Fred Harvey, who revolutionized railroad dining, had one of his restaurants in Union Station.  Today, it is The Station Grille.  In the film, the president is held hostage in The Link Room, which is the private dining room inside the restaurant and named after St. Louis Union Station architect Theodore Link...  

The Grand Hall of Union Station filled in for Madison Square Garden, where Snake & Snag fight to the death.  The Grand Hall of Union is really breathtaking, particularly the archway and the art glass windows...

In a deleted scene, you briefly see the exterior...

Location: Under The Queensboro Bridge
Address: 126 Chouteau Avenue, St. Louis, MO

Location: The Queensboro Bridge
Address: near 3328 W Chain of Rocks Road, Granite City, IL  

The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge

Production paid the city of St. Louis a dollar to buy the bridge for filming and clear them of any liability, which they then sold back for the same price.  The bridge has a history of crime and violence, most notably the 1991 murders of Julie and Robin Kelly.  Several comments online suggest entering on the safer Illinois side...

Location: Colorado Terminal
Address: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, GA   Concourse A

Location: Colorado Subway Platform
Address: 65 Joseph E. Lowry Boulevard, Atlanta, GA  Ashby Station

The deleted bank robbery scene that would've been in the opening of the film was shot in Atlanta, first at the airport and then at a few stops on the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority Blue Line.  The rail system had recently been constructed and had the futuristic look the production design team was looking for.  In the film, the train is actually running in the opposite direction...


I've met a few of the cast and crew at some horror conventions over the years...

John Carpenter (Director, Co-Writer, Secret Service #2, Helicopter Pilot, Violin Player)

Adrienne Barbeau (Maggie)

Charles Cyphers (Secretary of State)

Tom Atkins (Rehme)

Nancy Stephens (Stewardess)

Jamie Lee Curtis (Narrator/Computer Voice)

Locations Visited: July 2020, December 2020


  1. Wow, great work!! I seriously just watched this again today during my workout. I watched with the Carpenter/Russell commentary which was entertaining. I think youre the first one I've seen get all these locations.

    1. Thank you much! Yes, that commentary track is entertaining. I liked Debra Hill and Joe Alves' commentary too. Shout Factory just announced today the DVD is going out of print next month.