Joker Stairs

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Coordinates: 40°50′09″N 73°55′26″W / 40.8359°N 73.9239°W / 40.8359; -73.9239

West 167th Street step stairs, also known as the Joker Stairs
Tourists visit the stairs in October 2019, shortly after the release of Joker. A cosplayer dressed as the Joker dances in the middle of the stairwell for a photoshoot.

The "Joker Stairs" is the colloquial name for a step street connecting Shakespeare and Anderson avenues at West 167th Street in Highbridge in the Bronx, New York City.[1] Located near the 167th Street station on the New York City Subway's 4 train,[2] the stairs served as one of the filming locations in the 2019 film Joker.

In the film, the character Arthur Fleck, portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is repeatedly shown walking up and down these stairs as part of his daily routine. Later, towards the film's climax, he dances down the stairs wearing a brightly-colored suit and clown makeup, which represent a change in his character,[3] as Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Part 2" plays in the background.[4] The stairs appear in a promotional poster for the film and have become a tourist destination. Both the stairs and Arthur's dance have become Internet memes.[5][6]

Many visitors reenact the scene from the film, sometimes in Joker attire,[7][8] to the point that the stairs have become crowded with sightseers.[2] Bronx residents complained that tourists caused crowding during their commutes while snapping pictures and wielding selfie sticks.[9] Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, U.S. representative for New York's 14th congressional district (which covers portions of the Bronx), asked visitors to stay away from the Joker Stairs to avoid causing problems for residents.[10]

India Today notes, "Even though the stairs have been around for years and lead to some of the most famous spots in New York [...] they were never really popular because of their association with crime in the area."[3] The New York Times notes that originally, the stairs used in the 2007 biographical crime film American Gangster, located in a South Bronx neighborhood, were going to be used in the scene, but they had been repaved and beautified too much to be aesthetically acceptable for Joker.[11]

NBC New York notes that the Joker Stairs have joined "the ranks of well-known movie settings, like that of the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art" seen in the 1976 American sports drama Rocky.[12] In 2019, Burger King released a promotional video featuring the Joker Stairs, with a title card saying "We know clowns can be annoying", an innuendo directed at McDonald's.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tourists Flood The 'Joker Stairs,' Frustrating Bronx Residents". Gothamist. October 22, 2019. Archived from the original on November 14, 2019. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Nate Jones (2019-10-23). "The Joker Stairs: An Afternoon at NYC’s Newest Attraction". Retrieved 2019-11-14.
  3. ^ a b Sreetama Basu (2019-10-22). "Loved Joker's mad dance on NYC stairs? Take a virtual tour - Trending News News". Retrieved 2019-11-14.
  4. ^ Asmelash, Leah (2019-10-20). "The 'Joker' stairs might be New York's latest tourist attraction". CNN. Retrieved 2019-11-14.
  5. ^ Mahdawi, Arwa (2019-10-30). "Meme tourism has turned the world into the seventh circle of selfie hell | Arwa Mahdawi". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-11-29.
  6. ^ Alter, Rebecca (2019-10-24). "The Dance of Freedom. The Death Bells. The Meme-ing of the Joker". Vulture. Retrieved 2019-11-29.
  7. ^ "As tourists flock to the 'Joker' stairs, we rank Hollywood's other famous steps". Dallas News. November 11, 2019.
  8. ^ Laura M. Holzman (2019-11-01). "'Joker' fans flocking to a Bronx stairway highlights tension of media tourism". Retrieved 2019-11-14.
  9. ^ Ellis, Emma Grey (October 24, 2019). "'Joker Stairs' and the Problem With Meme Tourism". Wired.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ Michallon, Clémence (2019-10-24). "'This is for us': Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asks Joker fans to stay away from iconic Bronx steps". The Independent. Retrieved 2021-12-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ Julia Jacobs (2019-10-30). "'Joker' Stairs Become a Bronx Tourist Draw. Hope You're in Shape. - The New York Times". Retrieved 2019-11-14.
  12. ^ "Move Over, Rocky! Bronx Steps in 'Joker' Movie Become a Tourist Attraction". NBC New York. Retrieved 2019-11-14.
  13. ^ Daniels, Karu. F. (2020-01-08). "Burger King offering free Whoppers for Bronx residents for tolerating 'Joker Stairs' tourist". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2021-12-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)