Hollywood and tourism have placed a stairway in the Bronx at the top of the list of iconic must-see locations in New York City, United States like the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. The so-called Bronx Steps, featured in a pivotal scene of the Joker movie, now attract thousands of fans to visit them every day. The concrete staircase connects Shakespeare and Anderson avenues on 167th Street West of the Highbridge area.
About Joker and the Bronx Steps
Joker, directed by Todd Phillips of The Hangover trilogy, reimagines the origin of one of the best-known Batman villains. The film broke box office records thanks to Joaquin Phoenix’s creepy performance as the titular character. The Bronx staircase location is actually used for two scenes. One highlights mentally ill Arthur Fleck in a depressed state. Another shows Fleck, having become Joker, as he dances like a maniac dressed in purple and wearing clown makeup.
The Bronx Steps aren’t not the first landmark that cinema has turned into a tourist attraction. They’re not even the first steps made famous by movies. One of the most memorable scenes from the 1925 Russian film Bronenosets Potyomkin (Battleship Potemkin) takes place in Ukraine’s Odessa Steps. The climax of 1973’s The Exorcist popularized a stairway in Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown area. Perhaps the most famous stairs in movie history are those of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Pennsylvania, which are featured in 1976’s Rocky and its sequels.
Although the steps were frequented previously, the Joker movie has raised pedestrian traffic in the area. Like a bad joke, this new trend angers both visitors, who compete amongst each other for the perfect selfie, as well as residents of the area bothered by the hustle and bustle of crowds with or without makeup.
Joker-inspired graffiti now adorns the foot of the steps. At least one person was recorded throwing eggs at Joker Steps visitors. One of the most frequent complaints is that those who come to the steps to take pictures do not make purchases at nearby businesses, a factor that would at least justify the growing amount of visitors.
Only time will tell if the Joker Steps will remain trendy or will they only belong again to those who walk through them in their day-to-day.