Malcolm X, 1992


Spike Lee


visit the film locations

New York: Flights: JFK Airport

Drink at the: Lenox Lounge, 288 Lenox Avenue, Harlem (tel: 212.427.0253) (subway: 125th Street)

Catch a show at: the Apollo Theater, 253 West 125th Street (tel: 212.531.5300; events hotline: 212.531.5301)

Visit the: American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at West 79th Street (tel: 212.769.5100) (subway: 81st Street)


See the Lenox Lounge again in John Singleton’s 2000 update of Shaft, with Samuel L Jackson, and in the Hughes brothers’ Dead Presidents.

For more of Spike Lee’s New York see Jungle Fever and Mo’ Better Blues

Malcolm X location: The Lenox Lounge, Lenox Avenue, Harlem, New York

Malcolm X location: The ‘Paradise Bar’ bar: The Lenox Lounge, Lenox Avenue, Harlem, New York

Spike Lee’s long-cherished epic biopic of the black leader and activist was filmed (and not without a struggle: see By Any Means NecessaryLee’s book on the making of the film) largely around New York.

The grand opening shot is supposed to be ‘Dudley Street Station, Roxbury’, in a black area of Boston, but is actually Brooklyn, with NYC transit trains painted as Boston trains of the Forties.

The childhood home of Malcolm Little, the name he later rejected, in ‘Omaha, Nebraska’, filmed in Peekskill, on Route 9, New York State, on the east bank of the Hudson.

The bravura dance sequence in Boston’s ‘Roseland’ is the ballroom of the since-demolished Diplomat Hotel, which stood at 108 West 43rd Street in New York.

The ‘New England’ shoreline is at Hempstead House, Sands Point Preserve, Port Washington on the north shore of Long Island. When Malcolm X returns to Boston after falling foul of a Harlem numbers boss, the burglary at ‘Beacon Hill’ was shot at a classy apartment on Manhattan’s Park Avenue.

In New York, Malcolm X (Denzel Washington) gravitates to Harlem. The ‘Paradise Bar’, where he hangs out and begins running numbers, is the Lenox Lounge, 288 Lenox Avenue, Harlem’s recently-restored thirties gem, also seen in John Singleton’s 2000 update of Shaft, with Samuel L Jackson.

‘Charleston State Prison’, where X converts to Islam, is Rahway State Penitentiary, Rahway, on Route 1, New Jersey, on the River Rahway.

The reborn Malcolm X lectures at Columbia University, 114th-120th Streets, between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue (seen in Ghostbusters and Spider-Man), and tentatively enjoys a first date with Betty Shabazz (Angela Bassett) at the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at West 79th Street.

The ecstatic welcome for Joe Louis, and the march from the police station to the hospital after the release of brother Johnson, filmed on 125th Street, Harlem, by the legendary Apollo Theater, 253 West 125th Street. The Apollo’s famous Amateur Nights, begun in 1934, launched the careers of artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and James Brown. More recently, the likes of Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Tony Bennett and The Strokes have appeared.

The Audobon Ballroom, 3940 Broadway at West 166th Street in Washington Heights, scene of Malcolm X’s assassination, was actually used for exterior shots. The Audobon was acquired by the city in the mid-seventies, and Columbia University currently has plans to develop the site as a research complex.

The assassination inside the ‘Audobon’ was filmed in the Diplomat Ballroom again.

Malcolm X location: The Mohammed Ali Mosque, Cairo, Egypt

Malcolm X location: Malcolm X visits the mosque: The Mohammed Ali Mosque, Cairo, Egypt

The real Mecca scenes were filmed by a second unit in Saudi Arabia, as only a totally Islamic crew was allowed into the city. Malcolm X visits Egypt, where he worships at the Mohammed Ali Mosque (known as the Alabaster Mosque) in Cairo.

The epilogue was filmed at Phakamani Combined School, Soweto in South Africa, where Nelson Mandela speaks the film’s closing lines, and in the Alexandra township of Johannesburg, where Mandela had lived for a while on moving to the city in 1941.

• Many thanks to Freddy Ogterop for help with this section.

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