Terminal Bar (Taxi Driver, 1976)
Neighborhood: Times Square
Address: 620 8th Ave.
The blaze of greasy neon outside the Terminal Bar sums up well the aesthetic of Taxi Driver's night sequences. They also sum up the garish aesthetic of the bad old Times Square. In one of the film's most anguished scenes, Travis tries to confide in a fellow cabbie, played by Peter Boyle, telling him, "I got some bad ideas in my head." But the other cabbie doesn't understand Travis's vague attempts to make his desperation clear. The two men stand outside the bar, their natural skin color washed out and replaced with red neon. Travis is going to descend deeper into solitude, madness, into hell.
Interestingly enough, there's still some red neon where the Terminal Bar once stood. Glowing far less grotesque, the sign for Schnipper's Quality Kitchen is like a last reminder of Times Square's seedy past. "I was disappointed," reads one extra concise Zagat's user review of the restaurant. Another reads, "Overpriced, given that this is nothing special."
Travis is obsessed with cleaning the streets—he imagines a "real rain" that washes the trash, meaning the people, away. You can't help but wonder how he would find the city today.