Cinematic Atlas: A Guide to Spike Lee's New York Photos by Ian Stroud

DUMBO Waterfront (She’s Gotta Have It, 1986)

Neighborhood: DUMBO, Brooklyn
AddressBrooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1, Northeast Corner

She's Gotta Have It, Lee's first feature-length film, describes a sexual tug of war among young New Yorkers. It focuses on Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) and her trifecta of suitors, including Lee as Mars Blackmon, one of his most famous characters. Many of the film's most sweeping shots were lensed in DUMBO, a neighborhood that bares little resemblance to many of the other neighborhoods Lee would shot in later in his career.

There is no sense of economic struggle in DUMBO. The gentrified and the deteriorating are juxtaposed in many of Lee’s other locales, but DUMBO has long been a yuppie haven, gentrified since the 1970s, when young bohemian loft-spacers employed the phrase to deter developers (this, of course, was unsuccessful). The development of DUMBO has continued on since the days of She’s Gotta Have It as parks, nightclubs, and artisanal shops fill to the brim these once industrial docks. And yeah, the view is okay, too.

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