Where Was Sonny Corleone Killed and Where Was It Shot?

It’s one of the most famous death scenes in movie history. Sonny Corleone is lured into a trap by Barzini with the help of his shifty brother in law Carlo.  Sonny races off from his families compound in Atlantic Beach and leaves his protective body guards behind, drives up to a Long Island parkway toll booth and is killed in a horrific but spectacular murder.

Two historical questions have lingered about the scene. The first is fictional, the second is factual. Where was this scene supposed to have taken place, and where was it actually shot.

Where Was The Scene Shot?
Since the second question does not rely on the interpretation of a fictitious novel, I thought I would deal with it first. In Jenny Jones’ detailed non-fiction guide The Annotated Godfather she states the location of the hit to be Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. Bennett Field is also mentioned by other sources, including a site called District 9 which not only lists the location, but the filming date of June 22, 1971, and the cost of $100,000.

However, the website Godfather Trilogy states that the Bennett field location is not correct, and that the scene was in fact shot at Mitchell Field on Long Island. Both Mithell and Bennett locations are abandoned air fields, either could have made the scene work. But Blogger ‘Garrett’ at citynoise.org does a nice job of showing an exact location of an abandoned runway that is in existence today at Mitchell that looks to be correct.

Actual Scene


The abandoned runway today

This is an aerial of Garret’s Mitchell field site, just northwest of where the Charles Lindbergh Blvd goes over the Meadowrbook Parkway.

Where Did The Shooting Take Place
Since it is a ficitious shooting, the better question might be, where is it depicted to have taken place. The common belief is that it happened near Point Lookout, since you have to pass through Point Lookout from where Sonny was coming. There was a tiny one car toll gate positioned on the Loop Parkway just before it terminates at the Meadowbrook Parkway not far from Point Lookout.

Steve Anderson’s NYC Roads has a description of the plaza by former attendant Gene Biancheri who worked at it. You can see the small structure in this 1953 aerial shown below. When you approached the toll you could pay to head south to Jones Beach, or go north up onto the Meadowbrook Parkway away from the beach.

You can see the Loop Parkway toll on the aerial, like Biancheri says, it only had a single toll gate.

The murder is believed to have taken place in the book in the late 1940’s, although in the scene can be heard the radio call from Bobby Thompson’s famous home run game of 1951. The killing in the book happens at night, in the movie it is during the day. In the book he is in a Buick, in the movie it’s a Lincoln. Nevertheless the Godfather novel gives details as to specifically where Sonny was gunned down…

He headed the Buick toward the causeway that would take him over the water from Long Beach to the parkways on the other side of Jones Beach. He always used this route when he went to New York … The causeway was badly lit, there was not a single car. Far ahead he saw the white cone of the manned tollbooth. There were other tollbooths beside it, but they were staffed only during the day, for heavier traffic. Sonny started braking the Buick and at the same time searched his pockets for change…

There are two main inconsistencies from Puzo’s toll which do not jive with the Loop Parkway toll. Puzo describes ‘several’ unmanned booths’, but the Loop parkway only had one. And he describes Sonny as already being on the Jones Beach Causeway, the Loop comes before you get to the causeway. (Jones Beach Causeway was the old name for the Wantagh Parkway. When Jones Beach was first built it was the only roadway to Jones Beach, and thus was called The Jones Beach causeway.)

Again, from the book, just after the killing

… Afterward, all four men, the three actual assasins and the bogus toll collector, were in their car and speeding toward the Meadowbrook Parkway, on the other side of Jones Beach.


By saying ‘The other side of Jones Beach’ Puzo has to mean the men are headed back to the ‘Meadowbrook Parkway’ from the Wantagh. The Loop Parkway and Meadowbrook are on the same side of Jones Beach, the Wantagh on the other.

So, if we are sure Puzo means the Wantagh, we have another big problem. The Wantagh has a toll plaza to enter the beach, but not to leave. Those going north from the beach don’t have to pay a toll and that’s where Sonny was heading. If at one time a toll was there I have not been able to find evidence of it.

Wantagh Parkway Tolls, 1953

Left is the Wantagh toll gates in 1954. Three toll gates for traffic heading south, (today there are 6), but no sign of a toll that ever applied to cars northbound.

So in the end, if we need a real toll that actually existed for Sonny to have passed through, it would have to be the Loop Parkway toll. If we need the real location described, it would have to be the Wantagh toll. It  appears the toll both itself, as well as the killing, was a work of fiction.

You Tube Link To Scene – Circa 1940 map of the area below.

Jones Beach Map Circa 1940

Leave a comment



     /  June 3, 2011

    Very interesting reading, especially to an old toll collector who worked on those Jones Beach access roads from 1952-1957, summers/weekends. The Loop toll is the very likely place Puzo intended for that scene, since it was on the main road from Long Beach to NYC. Some time in the late 1950s, the toll plaza was rebuilt, with more than one booth for peak traffic. Puzo’s description may have been a little inaccurate, but hey it’s fiction. I too recall reading that the scene was shot at Mitchel Field, the site of the old Army Air Corps base, near Roosevelt Field, where Lindbergh left for his flight to Paris.

  2. vicki

     /  November 16, 2011

    ok, i just saw the godfather for the first time. crazy, i know. i grew up in atlantic beach and immediately thought it looked like the tolls at the loop.

  3. BillRVC

     /  March 27, 2013

    I went to Nassau Community College in the early ’70s and actually found the site in Mitchell Field where the scene was filmed. It was around 1973 and the traffic lines that were painted for the movie were still visible. I was able to duplicate the camera angles which were used.

    • jim

       /  May 14, 2013

      how would i find the exact location from stewart ave

      • BillRVC

         /  June 20, 2013

        Sorry, but it was a long time ago and there has been a lot of construction in that area. I have a feeling that it’s where the Marriott is now, but not sure.

      • Doesn’t it show above, in 2008, how to recreate that shot? I’ve been on that road between NCMC and the barn a quarter billion times. I had no idea there was a runway right there.

      • Alex

         /  August 13, 2013

        OK, I am going to clear this up. I was indeed filmed at Nassau Community College, I am currently a student there and I am sorry to report that the piece of runway that the scene was shot on no longer exists. The picture from 2008 is accurate, but as of the past two years there has been construction and that area where the historic scene was shot is now a damn parking lot. The only pieces of some of the original runways are located within the main parking lot at Nassau and small parts of Hofstra.

      • The runway used is gone and I don’t know what is left of NCCC but if you entered the campus off Stewart Ave and headed south thru the campus, past the quad, and past the hangers ALL runways were south of the hangers. The runway in question was probably ESE from center. (Looking toward the NCMC. Formerly Meadowbrook Hospital. Campaign rally for Nixon’s first Presidential Campaign was POSSIBLY staged on or near this runway?

      • Bill

         /  May 14, 2019

        The location where the scene was shot is still there but will soon be gone as Nassau County will be building the new police academy there. Its located north east from the Marriott hotel in the northeast corner of the old air field. Its currently or was used for the police driving training. It can be found on google maps and stands out on the map as a big wide white curved roadway to no where. It is bordered to the east by the meadowbrook parkway and to the east by the NCC campus parking lot. To reach it you would need to walk as I dont believe theres any public access and might be a fence in area. This is all as of 5.14.19.

    • Marianne

       /  August 17, 2013

      I remember the toll booths being there too. I went to the College there and remember the road. It was the 1980’s.

  4. Susan

     /  August 13, 2013

    I agree with Hilary It was The Atlantic Beach Tolls. No way he traveled all the was east from Atlantic Beach to go to the city. And It could have been the Toll out of Rockaway by Broad channel. That puts you right on the Belt Pkwy. into lower Manhattan

    • John M

       /  August 26, 2018

      Lived at MF /NCC father stationed there. Was there for years 69-76. We as kids watched them film the scenes. We were sitting on a large hill of dirt by the NCC security lock up for their vehicles that were damaged or inop with Hofstra at our back. We also used to hang out there with bb guns to try and hit the RC planes that used to fly out there. ( Sorry we were dumb kids) So the scenes were filmed on the old runways of Mitchel Field. If anyone was there during those years,,, remember the parties in the quad/bushes

      • The Atlantic Bridge makes sense from the point of view of where he was and where he was going. The problem with it is how it looks in the movie and how it’s written in the book. In the movie they say they shot Sonny on the Causeway. Could Causeway be a reference to the Atlantic Beach Toll? Hard to say yes. The book also describes the causeway, so, same problem. There is no obvious place it was, the Loop Toll isn’t the causeway either, but its closer to them. If you just want it in terms of the route you would logically take, Atlantic Beach Toll does carry some plausibility.


         /  August 26, 2018

        Let’s not forget the fictional character was traveling from LONG BEACH, not Atlantic Beach. As mentioned in 2014 by a former resident, the Loop Parkway was the way to go to the City, and it was called the Causeway.

  5. Susan,

    It might make more sense to go through the Atlantic Beach tolls to get to the city, but the book talks about Sony being headed to Jones Beach, on a causeway with not a single car in sight. When I read that I still think of what is today the Wantagh.

  6. Gene B

     /  August 13, 2013

    Since the family lived in Long Beach, the quick parkway route to the city would be via the Loop parkway to Meadowbrook to the city, which is the way author Puzo depicted it in the novel. The alternate western route would take you through local streets, traffic lights, etc. , which is why residents use the parkways.

  7. Meadowbrook probably only went as far as the Southern State Parkway at the time … and when one refers to the Jones Beach Causeway they mean what eventually became the Wantagh, Sonny may have wanted the Wantagh because it went right up to the Northen State.

  8. 5w30

     /  August 13, 2013

    Certainly filmed at Mitchel Field. In one of the backround scenes, an antenna mast is seen. That mast [still there] transmitted instructional TV programs to Catholic schools in Nassau County, NY. Also seen in a background shot – cranes. The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum was under construction at the time the Sonny Corleone shooting was filmed.

  9. Nope, nope, nope and nope – it was shot at the toll booth of the then College of Staten Island (now Petrides School) on Ocean Terrace, off the SI Expressway, not far from the house used as the residence of the Godfather in the movie, a few blocks up off Ocean Terrace. My cousin was an extra who was one of the shooters…he was also in a scene shot in front of Jack Dempsey’s in NYC…so try it again guys and get it straight this time! There was a never finished, unused entrance ramp to the SI Expwy in the film…

  10. “Long Beach?” Didn’t real mobsters live in Lido Beach? Anyone know which ones and when? I remember seeing a Nike missile installation there as a kid, and I thought, “Wow, those Mafia bastards even get Strategic Air Command protection!”

  11. craig

     /  January 11, 2014

    There are remnants of that Nike base still there today. The bays are right behind the bus yard.

  12. Perhaps, it was shot in more than one location. (Maybe someone should ask Coppola who went to school at nearby Hofstra College.) Anyway to underscore the belief that it was filmed at Mitchel Field, a high school friend of mine who lived in the military housing that remained after they decommissioned the Air Force Base, pinched one of the actors hats when they had completed shooting the scene. An example of life imitating art.

    • BillRVC

       /  January 11, 2014

      It was absolutely shot at Mitchell Field. I saw the spot with my own eyes and read an interview with Coppola where he mentioned that scene. Case closed.

    • John M

       /  August 26, 2018

      Wonder If we knew each other???

  13. BillRVC is right. I went to NCC in the late 70’s and knew a guy who worked on the campus for a number of years. He showed me the exact spot where the booth scene was set up and filmed. The painted highway lines were still there. As part of the NCC maintenance staff, he was actually on site during the filming of the scene.

  14. Gary m

     /  January 12, 2014

    For years I was always under the impression that the scene was shot on the old Jones beach cause way. But now that i have read this it does make sense it was the old Mitchell Field Tolls.I had also heard Floyd Bennett Field was another location. I have many friends who had their cars in the movie..

  15. Danny

     /  January 13, 2014

    It made sense he’d use an abandoned air field and create a weathered toll booth. Coppola would have known Mitchel Field very well and may have even made some student films there.

  16. Ben

     /  February 8, 2014

    I just used google earth. Found the stretch where it took place. It is east of Mitchell field, west of the Meadowbrook pkwy, north of the Nassau coliseum. Not positive that it’s still there today, but whenever Google photographed it, the same stretch was there.

  17. Pete

     /  February 14, 2014

    the toll for thy beach in the late 40s was 25Cts-parking was another Q-one of the origianal booths on the Meadowbrook was demolished by a tank going to the beach from Camp Santini during WW11

    • Gene B

       /  February 19, 2014

      When I started as a toll collector on the Meadowbrook causeway in the summer of 1952, I recall one of the older collectors telling about a booth that was demolished (by a car, I thought), and I was told that was the reason 3-foot high concrete barriers were put in front if each booth. Not much protection from the Barzini boys.

  18. James

     /  May 24, 2014

    I grew up in Garden City on the border of Hempstead, we kids had a blast hanging out in Mitchell Field/Roosevelt Field/Coliseum/Flea Market/area. First on our bikes, then on skateboards, and when we were older in our cars…The air strip used to also be the Nassau County Police testing track back in the day. One afternoon in 1990 some buddies and me were racing around the track when a police helicopter swooped down above us and landed about 100 feet away…while we parked and watching in awe with our mouths open, this Highway Patrol looking officer stepped out of the chopper, walked over to our window and said “Let me guess, you all want to be cops when you get older?”…and then told us to get the hell out of there. Pretty dam funny looking back. Anyway, I had no idea at the time that that is where they filmed the Godfather toll booth scene…I had always heard rumours about it growing up in the area, but now after seeing the pictures above I believe it. Hell, I may take a ride out there tomorrow and lie down on the same spot James Cann did.

  19. Norm

     /  June 29, 2014

    It was filmed in Mitchell Field. I remember my Dad telling me he saw the filming, he was a Nassau County cop at the time at their testing site.

  20. Omar Federici

     /  July 26, 2014

    In this picture (see the link below) I can clearly see at the left of the tollbooth cabin the “Nassau Veteran Memorial Coliseum”. For me the scene is roll in the Mitchel Field abandoned runway, Another feature is the enormous width of the supposed route that cars approach to cabin. I have no doubt about it. Regards from Argentina.

  21. Omar Federici

     /  July 26, 2014

    Here are another link from IMBD (See photo number 26)


  22. Gary

     /  August 12, 2014

    FYI: I grew up in Long Beach in the 50’s and 60’s and NOBODY EVER referred to the stretch of highway connecting Lido Beach/Point Lookout to the Meadowbrook Parkway/Jones Beach toll booths as the Loop Parkway. Locals always referred to it as “The Causeway”. In fact, I remember at some point, looking at a map, and being surprised to learn that that stretch of road actually had an official name, “Loop Parkway”. I mentioned this to my father who grew up in Freeport and lived in Long Beach for 60 years, and he was also unaware that that road was known by anything other than “The Causeway”. Also, the current toll bridge in Atlantic Beach didn’t open until 1952. It replaced a much smaller older bridge that had opened in 1927. I could find no evidence that the earlier bridge had a toll.

  23. perrytradesman

     /  December 6, 2014

    WOW! Cool stuff for sure, I so remember the first time I saw that scene and as a 7th grader I had to keep telling myself It’s not real-
    but ,, when sonny gets out of the car looks like the bullets are holding him up and omg James Caan does such a great acting job the end where the guy shoots him and sonny’s body is bouncing and then the shooter kicks him was just unreal what a great movie AWESOME!!!!!!

  24. I grew up in Lido and passed through that toll booth a million times, first as a kid with my parents in the 1950s and then driving in the late 1960s.and yet it’s sort of a blur. I seem to remember one toll booth or perhaps two, or someone (or two people) working out of both sides of one booth, the right side to veer right towards the road to Jones Beach, the left side to go towards the Meadowbrook. I also don’t remember paying the toll returning back onto the Loop Parkway, just going from Lido Blvd north to the toll booths. I believe the tolls collected by that booth were to pay for the construction of the Loop roadway and that causeway bridge which I always managed to catch in the up position or about to go up.. When it was paid off they tore down the toll booth and the road became free. It wasn’t as flat and wide open as depicted in the movie, there were dunes and grass on either side of the roadway. When you drove along the Loop , you could see small shacks out on the marshland. There used to be buildings out there on pilings, I don’t know if they were fishing shacks or what they were but there were many. All gone now.

  25. Lee Chambers

     /  September 15, 2015

    I can settle the debate definitively of where the tollbooth scene was shot (poor choice of words). My father was President of Nassau College from 1965-1979. He personally took me out behind our house to see the filming on the runway adjacent to Perimeter Road. End of story.

    • Appreciate the info, any information is good but I think we are more in agreement on that part of the debate than the other, where it was depicting. Loop Parkway, Wantagh. People seem to think it’s the Loop, but the Loop Parkway tool did not look exactly the same as the one in the movie.

  26. Gene B

     /  September 15, 2015

    The Loop Parkway toll, where I worked in the 1950s, when the story took place, looked SIMILAR to the one constructed near Mitchel Field for filming. There was no toll collected on the northbound Wantagh Causeway, so the intended scene had to be the Loop toll, which led to both Jones Beach (right lane) and the mainland/Southern State/NYC (left lane).

  27. Gene B

     /  September 19, 2015

    Yes, that’s where the toll booth was on the Loop parkway. But in 1952-1954, it was only a single booth, and in off hours could be handled by one collector, working both sides of the booth. Later in the 1950s multiple, modern booths were constructed…now all gone.

  28. This makes sense to me seeing that Coppolla attend Hofstra University which was constructed on the abandoned Mitchell Airforce Base yards away from this scene location. Coppola was familiar with this location, and you can see the Kellenberg TV tower in the background. This scene was indeed shot in Garden City.

  29. Rocky

     /  March 30, 2016

    I e-mailed Zoetrope studios and the secretary there said she asked Coppola where it was filmed and he said Mitchell field,now abandoned but still exists.I went there the other day and it is a “U’ shaped runway where Sonny made the turn into the toll booth.Kellenberg High School radio tower in the background across Hempstead Turnpike.I went there yesterday and it still evists,or part of it,runway 5~23

  30. Charles

     /  April 11, 2017

    I was there. Mitchell Field is correct or exactly where the Nassau Colliseum is today off Hempstead Turnpike.
    The toll booth was built in the open lot

  31. Chris

     /  December 27, 2017

    I went to NCC in the early 70’s. It was indeed shot there and some of the film people ate at the NCC cafeteria during the shooting

  32. Taking the Loop Pkwy, Long Beach to Brooklyn would make the trip 30 miles longer…LB to Atlantic Beach bridge thru the Rockaways would be the way to go to Brooklyn…


       /  August 4, 2018

      Sonny was driving to Manhattan, not Brooklyn. Parkways are usually faster than city streets.

  33. Something to think about: Is Sonny had an EasyPass, he’d probably still be alive….

  34. Bill

     /  May 22, 2019

    Just went there last weekend, runway still there but will probably be gone as the toll booth area is within the fenced in area where they are digging up the ground to build the new Nassau County Police Academy.

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