Bridge of Spies filming locations
January 6, 2016
Bridge of Spies, Steven Spielberg’s latest movie, was filmed mostly on location in New York and Berlin (with some scenes filmed in Poland). The catch? It takes place during the Cold War. Locations throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan were transformed into the New York of the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Most of the New York filming was done in the Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Brooklyn Heights itself is a trip back in time, so it’s no surprise the neighborhood was a prime spot for filming. A scene at the beginning of the movie shows the streets of DUMBO at the base of the Manhattan Bridge, with the storefronts altered to fit the time period.
A scene where Tom Hanks’ character, James Donovan, tries to hail a cab in the rain and is then followed down the street by a man from the CIA was filmed outside the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division building on Monroe Place and at the intersection of Hicks Street and Pineapple Street in Brooklyn Heights. Coleman Cleaners, a real present-day business, can be seen in the background, and a 1950s dress store was added in another storefront, as well as vintage cars along the streets.
One of the first scenes in the film involves the FBI tailing Rudolf Abel, an alleged Soviet spy, on the NYC subway. A vintage train was brought into the Broad Street station and the station itself was transformed, very early on a Sunday morning, into a subway station from 1957, with old-fashioned signage, posters, and lighting fixtures. Other scenes taking place on subway cars were filmed inside the vintage train cars at the New York City Transit Museum in Brooklyn Heights.
The hotel where Abel lives is in Astoria, Queens at the intersection of 18th Street and 26th Avenue, with the Triborough Bridge visible in the background (though it’s not a hotel in reality). They also filmed scenes in nearby Astoria Park where Abel is seen sitting on a bench, painting.
The law office where Donovan works is the New York Bar Association on 44th Street in Manhattan. Some of the courthouse scenes were filmed in Manhattan’s Foley Square. Donovan’s family lives in a Victorian house in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. The exteriors and first floor interiors, including the living room, dining room, and entryway, were all filmed at the house. The interiors of the upstairs rooms were recreated on set at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard.
If you know what to look for when you watch Bridge of Spies, you’ll be able to spot NYC despite its time-traveling disguise.