John Wick: After taking his wife off life support in the opening scenes, funeral services are held in some cemetery with sweeping views of the NYC (primarily Manhattan) skyline:
The cemetery is First Calvary Cemetery, a Roman Catholic burial ground that is one of four parts of the greater Calvary Cemetery in Long Island City (the cemetery website is wrong, they’re not located in Woodside; they’re in the 11101 ZIP, which is Long Island City).
The cemetery is a secret space, not nearly as popular – or fun, honestly – as Green-Wood, but also a lot quieter. Like some hills in Green-Wood though, it does offer some commanding perspectives of skylines and signature buildings. I especially appreciate the juxtaposition of gravestones with signifiers of Empire and World Trade:
In a subsequent scene, John Wick gets assaulted in his extremely fancy New Jersey home, his dog gets murdered, and his car (a 1969 Mustang Mach1) stolen. The thieves take his vehicle to some chop shop, and in the approach to the shop’s security gate the Kosciuszko Bridge can clearly be seen in the background:
Seen on the left edge of the image is “[L]AUREL HILL BLVD,” which borders First Calvalry Cemetery to the south (not all roads in Queens are numbers – some have names too!).
The location is a facility called “Pine Non Ferrous” or “Pine Scrap Metal” depending on what sign or map you read, and can be seen here:
(Spin around 180° and you’ll see First Calvalry Cemetery.)
This next scene is brilliant on so many levels, namely the sequence cuts and the implications: John Wick, ready to wage war to avenge the death of his dog, a parting gift from his deceased wife, ready to kill dozens and dozens of men to achieve his objectives, knows the location of the chop shop from his previous line of work. But he simply won’t drive his SUV with two broken windows there. He’ll kill men, but opts for the bus to get to the chop shop. Apparently he gets the Q90 from New Jersey (instead of a cab) and gets conveniently dropped off right in front of the chop shop. BRILLIANT!
He didn’t even change out of his bloodied shirt!
And no there’s no Q90 bus, there’s no tree-lined road in this area, and there’s not even a bus route that runs along the southern edge of First Calvary Cemetery (shown blacked out in the adjacent map).
I appreciate the world of make-believe in film!
But I appreciate even more whoever scouted this area of Long Island City for this film, and put these pieces of the puzzle together to achieve the shots they wanted. Long Island City, the next “it” neighborhood, still has some pretty crap-tastic spaces that are more reminiscent – as my friend Jo would say – of Half-Life than any hip, urban environment (and is part of my thesis why, long-term, it’ll never entirely be gentrified – this ain’t Brooklyn!). For example:
Here are some non-Queens bonus scenes.
This scene attempts to suggest that a church in Manhattan is a front where Viggo Tarasov “keeps his private stash,” because at the end of the scene Tarasov says his son is in a “safe house, Brooklyn” as if they weren’t in Brooklyn – but the “church” (the exterior anyhow – I don’t recognize the interior) is easily recognizable as Weylin B. Seymour’s, the Williamsburg Savings Bank building, at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge, on the Brooklyn side:
I forget what you call it in film and movies when there are inconsistencies within sequences, but I feel like this is one of those – hard to tell. In one scene, Marcus, played by Willem Dafoe, fires a rifle using his right hand to pull the trigger; in the next he’s seen using his left hand. In the sequence leading to the first screenshot, Marcus can clearly be seen using his right arm as his ‘strong’ hand, to both carry a suitcase and connect parts of the gun; now for the second screenshot, the part in Dafoe’s hair actually goes the other way, which makes it appear as though he’s holding the gun opposite, when he might actually be holding it the same way as in the first screenshot, but film editors decided to flip the film to make it appear he was pointing down-and-to-the-right instead of down-and-to-the-left in the scene:
Yeah. Bad editing.
And for the final scene examined here you can deduce the scene was shot on the rooftop of the James Hotel based on the orientation of HVAC equipment seen on the AT&T Long Distance Building in the middleground:
From there, pan north a bit and, sure enough, there’s the James:
Nice story. I found it while writing my own piece about the scene filmed at Calvary.
The reason the cemetery is frequently said to be in Woodside is because that’s where their administrative offices are, on Laurel Hill Blvd near 49th Street. That’s pretty squarely Woodside, I would think. Their official website says they are located in “Woodside/Long Island City”, which I guess covers the bases. Although if you ask me Calvary is in Blissville. Old Calvary and New used to be conjoined but West Maspeth and the L.I.E./B.Q.E. quagmire got in the way. Technically speaking Old Calvary has no street address. Ain’t no one gettin’ mail there!
I don’t think the scene from “John Wick” was filmed entirely at Calvary. I’ve been wandering Calvary for way too many years (don’t ask) and in my opinion the opening shot shows a cemetery that does not look anything like it. See what you think of that first image from the cemetery scene. Is it Calvary? I am happy to be proven wrong but I just don’t think it is:
This is great Mark!
However I’d say it’s not so clear-cut the neighborhood in question; now nothing that I’m about to say is definitive, merely suspect.
For starters I consider Blissville part of LIC.
Where LIC ends is the big mystery, part of many debates.
For instance I disagree with the Wikipedia map for Queens neighborhoods: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5e/Queens_neighborhoods_map.png
LIC is not only the tip; and Astoria is clearly not where I live, in the Dutch Kills neighborhood; furthermore that map says Blissville is in Sunnyside, and they’re culturally very distinct.
For me ‘squarely Woodside’ is not 49th St & LHB; it might be on the periphery these days, but by no means in the middle of the cultural square. Typing ‘Woodside’ in Google Maps shows you a very historical boundary for the neighborhood; something very similar to this 1909 Newtown atlas plate: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d2/1909AtlasPlate13-Newtown-Ward2-Woodside-NYPL.jpg
Google Maps does not clearly define “Long Island City” and instead puts 49th/LHB in Sunnyside (not Woodside).
I’m definitely not trying to force definition on the landscape (I’m no developer!), in fact I appreciate the grey zones of Queens and how the neighborhoods really do blur together.
As for that opening scene: good eye! I’ll try and spy the location when I’m out & about. I can’t imagine they’d pay top dollar to change locations for one shot, but then again there’s a lot of ‘movie magic’ in every film we gloss over as we’re watching.
Thanks for commenting!