The Film Locations of Ghostbusters (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of our look at Ghostbusters – Click here for Part 1!

With this article, we’re completing our “New York, You’ve Changed” look at Ghostbusters.

GB001 - Columbia

Picking up where we left off, Egon, Ray, and Peter have been kicked out of Columbia and have since purchased a Tribeca firehouse to base their fledgling ghostbusting business in.

In this scene, Ray drives up in what will soon become the iconic “Ectomobile” – not a hearse, as some believe, but actually an old ambulance (to be specific, a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor limo-style endloader combination car [ambulance conversion]). If you look in the background, you get a brief glimpse of the neighborhood surrounding the firehouse on North Moore Street.

GB001a

GB001b

You get a better view later in the film, when Peter arrives to find EPA officer Walter Peck attempting to shut down the powergrid. As you can see in both pictures, a lot has changed, primarily the complete gutting of what I think was the “Vera Electronics Company,” now the Cercle Rouge Brasserie. Lots of building painting changes to boot. Also, North Moore Street has lost meter parking but has gained some foliage.

GB001c

GB001f

Also,  note the squat brick building on the corner, which you can see in this aerial view when the storage facility blows.

GB001ff

This brick building was purchased by a wealthy family, who recently built a five story home on top of it (yep, that’s a single family house). Because the brick building is landmarked, they had to integrate it into their design. Ha, I’d sort of rather live in the firehouse, but then, I’m nuts.

GB001fff

As Peter listens to Ray’s endless list of car repairs, we get a glimpse across Hudson Street, which has completely changed (the restaurant on the corner is now Walkers). Also note that the “ENTRANCE AROUND CORNER” sign on the firehouse still exists:

GB001g

GB001h

After meeting Dana Barrett, the Ghostbusters complete their first successful bust at the Sedgewick Hotel. Where is its New York counterpart? You’ll have to go to California for that one – they filmed at LA’s Millennium Biltmore Hotel.

GB002 - Hotel

We next get a montage taking us through their rapid successes at busting ghosts, and I’m going to need a little help identifying this first location. Anyone recognize it? It feels very familiar to me, but I just can’t place it. I think that sign says “Mens Wear” on the right, though I doubt that helps. Also, the bearded guy looking into the camera is actually an actor.

GB003 - News

The next part of the montage appears to have been shot around the Little Italy/Chinatown neighborhood. I was excited to go searching for some of the more obscure shots, but was ultimately thwarted by the San Gennaro festival (for non-New Yorkers, thousands of people descend on Little Italy for an enormous street fair, making photography, walking, even breathing nearly impossible). I’m planning on returning to the area after the festival is over sometime this November. We get a shot of the Ectomobile passing by the infamous Umberto’s…

GB004a - Umberto

Next, we see Peter and Ray in Chinatown. I really feel there’s enough clues in this picture to locate this (the metal railing, the yellow sign, etc.) and for shooting purposes, I bet it’s very close to Umberto’s.

GB004b

This next shot of Egon with a smoking trap had me wondering, until I noticed both a “Luna Restaurant” and a “PIZZA” sign in the background. Granted, this could be ANYWHERE in New York (there are several “Luna” establishments in the city), but if they were doing montage shots in Little Italy, it seems to be a safe bet that this was there.

GB004c - Luna

It would also make perfect sense to find an apartment building with a lower level like this in the neighborhood. If anyone knows differently, please let me know!

GB004d - Ray

Here, we see the Ectomobile cruise past St. Patrick’s and Saks Fifth Ave. In many of these shots, it’s actually Dan Aykroyd driving the car, even though you can’t see him. Looks like the awnings are gone. Also, for reasons unknown, we now need to put up with that incredibly frustrating sidewalk barrier:

GB005a - Sacks

GB005b - Sacks

Finally, we see the Ghostbusters running up Rockefeller Center. Apparently, they had no permission to shoot there, and you can actually see a security guy (maybe the man in white on the left?) running after them in the shot.

GB006a - Rock

GB006b - Rock

After the montage, Peter chats with Dana about Zuul and Gozer in Lincoln Center. The fountain was recently replaced, to the dismay of preservationists, with a modern version that will entertain tourists with computer-controlled water displays.

GB007 - Lincoln

GB007b - Lincoln

Bad things quickly begin happening in Dana’s apartment building. For the life of me, I can’t find this location in Central Park. It’s obviously faked – Dana’s apartment is superimposed where it simply doesn’t exist. But I can’t seem to find this curve. Any guesses? The best I could come up with is the entrance at 72nd Street, which doesn’t feel totally right.

GB008a - Park

GB008b - Park

With a terror dog right behind him, Louis Tully flees to Central Park and desperately tries to get into Tavern on the Green via the patio (I believe the statue was a prop).

GB009a - Tavern

Inside, a birthday party is in full swing (trivia – the birthday girl is Debbie Gibson). I located the correct side of the patio by that tree, which is hidden behind the hanging flowers in the below picture.

GB009b - Tavern

GB009c - Tavern

Louis runs to the left and desperately tries the door, which is locked (FYI for anyone running from terror dogs, the door is still locked):

GB009d - Door

GB009e - Door

Finally, in what has to be one of the more sympathy-inducing scenes in modern cinema, Louis backs against a window – it’s the second one to the right of the tree trunk.

GB009f

GB009g

Shortly after, Walter Peck shuts down the protection grid and the containment unit blows. As you watch the enormous explosion blow out of the Ghostbusters roof, you could be forgiven for not noticing the MATERA CANVAS ad on the building to the left, which is still there today:

GB010a

GB0027

The ad advertises a store at 5 Lispenard Street, which was in business as recently as 1990, having been around since 1907 (more info in this NY Times article).

GB010b

During the commotion, Louis manages to escape – anyone know what street this?

GB011

A quick tidbit you might have missed – in this shot, you can see a “STAY PUFT MARSHMALLOWS” wall ad on the building to the left (wouldn’t that be a great addition to the now otherwise ugly wall?).

GB012a

GB012b

As ghosts escape, we see one fly out of a subway station, which can be found at the City Hall RW train entrance on Broadway west of City Hall (the newsstand seems to have shifted south a block):

GB013a - Subway

GB013b - Subway

Next, a commuter gets in a cab with a corpse. Any idea what avenue this is?

GB014a - Driver

I’ve had this cab driver before:

GB014b - Driver

The cab takes off, sending traffic swerving out of its path. This might give a second clue to the location of the scene:

GB014c - Driver

For a brief moment, we get a shot of Louis crossing the street as he makes his way to Dana’s apartment. What I find interesting about this shot is an awning that reads “WIENERWALD – Austrian Restaurant.” I had never heard of a WienerWald before – apparently, it was the largest fast food restaurant in Europe during the 1970′s, and had attempted to expand to America. Now, there are only 63 locations left in Germany and Austria.

GB015 - WienerWald

Slimer makes another appearance, this time in a hot dog vendor’s cart outside of the McGraw-Hill building at Rockefeller Center:

GB015a - Slimer

GB015b - Slimer

Dana sends a signal to Louis, who hears it in Times Square. This is the weirdest shot – it’s like the went out of their way to hide the fact that it’s Times Square. I only recognized it for the TCKT booth (boy has that changed) and the George Cohan statue. Odd that they would shoot in the heart of Manhattan and not show the surrounding area (methinks they got this shot on the fly).

GB016a - Times Sq

GB016b - Times Sq

After a meeting with the mayor at city hall…

GB017a - City Hall

GB017b - City Hall

…the boys in gray peel out and head uptown…

GB018a - Peel

GB018b - peel

…vowing to “run some red lights.”

GB018c - Peel

GB018d - Peel

Much of the destruction that occurs to the street in front of Dana’s building was actually shot on a soundstage in California with a full two-story replica of the apartment’s facade (if you pay close attention, it’s very clear when they’re on the set):

GB019 - Wreck

Finally, the one and only Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man makes an appearance in Columbus Circle. Aw, I miss the old Museum of Arts & Design building, even if it was one of the ugliest buildings in the city (for years, I thought it was some sort of parking garage). Note the sliver of an old Marlboro Cigarettes ad on the right:

GB020 - Stay Puft

GB021 - STay

As terrified New Yorkers flee, they have no idea that the store on the corner will one day be a FedEx-Kinkos:

GB022a - Running

GB022b - Running

As Stay-Puft approaches the building, you can see just how drastic the building addition is:

GB023a - Church

GB023b - Church

I had to post this great shot – I never noticed that two great villains, Walter Peck and Stay-Puft, appear in one brief shot.

GB024a - Peck

Finally, years later, the marshmallow has been cleaned up and New York is basically back to normal.

GB025a - Final

GB025b - Final

As it turns out, most of the changes between the New York in Ghostbusters and the New York of 2009 are pretty small, due to the fact that the movie was mostly shot in locations where change is not allowed (the New York Public Library, Columbia, Rockefeller Center, etc.). In my mind, it’s a very good thing that these New York’s treasures are still standing strong more than 25 years later.

-SCOUT

GB0026

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53 comments

  1. “Also, for reasons unknown, we now need to put up with that incredibly frustrating sidewalk barrier.”

    I’m pretty sure the sidewalk barriers went up when Giuilani increased the jaywalking fine. In an attempt to keep pedestrians from messing up traffic patterns, he installed barriers so you can only cross at certain intersections.

    Here’s a NYTimes article about it from January 1998: http://www.nytimes.com/1998/01/13/nyregion/with-higher-fines-giuliani-hopes-to-hobble-jaywalkers.html

    “The Mayor, however, said a crackdown against jaywalking, like the pedestrian gates placed in midtown, would improve traffic flow and allow speedier travel for emergency vehicles. On Sunday, Mr. Giuliani had said that the pedestrian barricades would stay up ”indefinitely” at the end of the pilot program yesterday. The police erected them on Dec. 23, at 10 intersections between Lexington Avenue and Avenue of the Americas on 49th and 50th Streets.

    The barriers were greeted with a torrent of criticism, with many people claiming they struck at the heart of New York’s identity as a pedestrian city.”

  2. Re: sidewalk barriers, see also this New Yorker cover: http://archives.newyorker.com/?i=1998-04-06

  3. Actually, from what I understand and have read, Ramis and Akroyd have been reading each draft of the script to make sure it’s up to par. They are on the 3rd draft now, so there are chances it may not suck. And after the recent videogame, Murray agreed to sign on as well.

  4. This is an awesome feature, and you couldn’t have picked a better film to start it off with.

    Thanks for putting it together! I look forward to what you do next.

  5. I see folks have beat me to the Blame Giuliani front on the sidewalk barriers! I remember how angry people were when they went up. Jaywalking is an innate NYC right!

    My mom worked at Rockefeller Center from 1970 to 1987, and she and I used to have lunch at the neighborhood Wienerwald ALL THE TIME in the 1970s. Yum. There were a couple of Teutonic wurst chains back then–I’m blanking on the other one. I just remember, when you walked in, there were two huge beerkegs mounted on the wall, labelled “Dunkel” and “Hell.” That used to crack me up.

  6. Fucking A, dude. This was great. I moved to the city only around 6 months ago, so these old New York movies still have lots of magic to me–I’m gobbling them up. Your post is easily the best I’ve read (and I’ve gone back pretty far in your archives).

    My suggestion for future movies:
    – Taxi Driver
    – My Dinner With Andre (should be a really short one, but interesting)

  7. Talk of other screenwriters attached to Ghostbusters 3 sickens me, especially since Aykroyd’s original script was more about the later years of the Ghostbusters, after they had established a franchise. Sounds like a perfect solution to work with that, especially since there was real magic to Aykroyd’s 80′s scripts. Whereas everything he did after 1989 was utter crap. Blues Brothers 2000 particularly.

    Industry types may be right that Murray, Aykroyd and Ramis aren’t names that can open a big weekend, but as the Ghostbusters there’s more than enough beyond the sum of its parts to get people born after 1989 into the theater.

  8. That was really great! To see how it all has changed so much. Id love to go back to when they were filming and see all these LANDMARKS, to me they are. I think you should keep going and show us Ghostbusters 2 locations. The art museum, the court room (or outside of it), Peters appartment, the middle of 1st Avenue where they dug the hole, (the river of slime J/K) etc.. Id love to see that and i bet a whole lot of others that just love the ghostbusters!

  9. for the record, ambulances often did double duty as hearses until i think the late 70s.

  10. GB004c – Luna:
    I’d bet heavy that this is the Luna Pizza on Mulberry St. Check it out after the festival.

  11. How about an “Annie Hall” series?

  12. Great work, congratulations. And thanks for sharing it with us, at least, it´s too hard to me to find my way to go and visit NYC by myself, but I can´t die without doing it.
    Cheers from the mexican GB biggest fan.

  13. INCREDIBLE! Do Scent Of A Woman next! The scenes in DUMBO will provide some very interesting differences: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0rPbwN0gbA

  14. Wow, this is great. Excellent job carried out with care and love.

    I’ve spent a lot of time walking the streets of New York trying to understand some of those locations. The Sedgwick Hotel had me beat — now I know why! Just last week I passed by the fire house and saw the sign from Ghostbusters II just inside the entrance. I’m amazed the Matera Canvas ad is still there.

    I just noticed the photograph on the front page of the New York Post during the montage sequence is actually a still from the climax of the movie, when the Ghostbusters “crossing the streams” to defeat Gozor.

  15. Well I got one so far – the commuter gets in cab with a corpse at Madison Avenue on the east side of the avenue at about 61st street. the back of the GM building/FAO Shwartz can be seen a few blocks away I think.

  16. Fantastic series start! Ghostbusters is one of my all time favorite movies. I look forward to more in your series. Keep up the great work!

  17. Very detailed and entertaining.

    More movies please!

  18. Really awesome article!

    Hate to break it to you, but all four of the guys are back for GB3. But what is nice to hear is that Bill wouldn’t come back unless Ernie Hudson got a bigger role. So at least there’s that.

  19. Just brilliant – thanks for sharing. Nice to see things haven’t changed that much!

  20. This is Great! Well researched!
    I also saw this at age 8 for the first time and it changed my life!!!

    Good work…

    You… You earned it (handing you a candy bar).

  21. Wonderful walk done memory lane!

    Would absolutely LOVE a Ghostbusters reunion/sequel–but only if the original actors are in it.

  22. Great job!!! A thoroughly entertaining read. Funny because I’ve walked past that fire station numerous times and always thought it looked really cool but never realized it was the GhostBusters station! Awesome! Thanks for doing this!

  23. this post is full of locations that you have yet to find. I was under the impression you wanted your viewers to find them for you, then maybe you would give credit to those who’d helped you with your post.

    I guess I was wrong, You’re just going to leave these posts incomplete. I won’t waste my time trying to find your locations for you. it would’ve been fun.

  24. Noah –

    I appreciate any reader feedback, and have been meaning to check out and shoot the various addresses supplied by readers (including you) for both the unknown Ghostbusters and Taxi Driver locations. When I have a chance, I plan on updating my posts with full credit given (note that in my Taxi Driver part 1, a reader corrected me on a location and I gave him full credit in the revision). Unfortunately, as this site is not my primary job, I don’t have unlimited free time to go out taking photos and tracking down obscure locations. Wish I did.

  25. I can’t be positive, but I think that the street depicted here (http://www.flickr.com/photos/32277674@N08/3946946002/) is on Watts Street between Sixth Avenue and Thompson, not too far from the firestation.

  26. This was really a great project, and as a big Ghostbusters fan, I can’t say how much of a kick I got out of this.

    Talk of Ben Stiller and other actors (and indeed, the addition of outside screenwriters) worries me. Ghostbusters 3 might very well end up being the disaster I hope it won’t be.

  27. The pictures you have are really good, I am a huge Ghostbusters fan and I love seeing what the buildings and streets look like now.

    Keep the good work up :)

  28. This is great. My favorite childhood movie brought to life, especially since I moved to New York in 2002 and have a good feel for many of these spots. I can’t believe I’ve been to Bubble Lounge over the years and it was right by Ghostbusters HQ! Almost brought a tear to the eye. haha.

    Great work.

  29. Hey Scout -

    First off, thank you for all that you do on this site – absolutely amazing articles that break down some of my favorite films. I live for this sort of stuff.

    Very happily, I can provide some information for you on one of your unknown shots:

    “The cab takes off, sending traffic swerving out of its path. This might give a second clue to the location of the scene…”

    As a poster before suggested, this shot is on the South West corner of 62nd & Madison – I can say this without a shadow of doubt, because this is the street where I grew up. I think we’re around the same age, because watching Ghostbusters was a big early cinematic moment for me and I remember this shot exactly because I couldn’t believe it was shot on my block.

    I also vividly remember my mother being incredibly late from picking me up from nursery school (one of my earliest memories) because she was stuck in the traffic snarl created at the CPW location.

    In any event, I hope that helps a little bit – and thanks again for everything.

  30. Really nice but I found this site just recently and it was after watching a video uploaded to YouTube three months after the article was posted that is identical in subject: filming location, then and now. Are these two from the same source? The channel has similar videos on other movies but other than NYC so, I’m not sure if it’s the same source but just as good as here. Thanks for sharing your stories because it makes me appreciate the movies and locations much more.

    Video:

  31. In addition to Wienerwald, there was ZumZum, which had the “Raise Hell” ads. No, it was not bought out by Mazda!! :o) The U’s was bent hot dogs. There was one at 8th and University I used to go to. (One of my favorite NY chains was Prexy’s, the hamburger with a college education, and featured this kind of squat hamburger with glasses and a college mortarboard. Love to have one of the big plastic characters they had. One was ironically by Columbia….)

    Several years ago, there was a wonderful exhibit, possibly at the NY Historical Society (I disremember where exactly) which featured models from famous films. There was a scene from “Creation”, Willis O’brien’s unfinished precursor to “King Kong”, and the model of the rooftop used in “Ghostbusters” used for some of the aerial shots.

  32. i think i read this about a year ago, but Neatorama (or maybe it was Mental_floss) posted a link today and i checked it out again. i think it’s really cool to see filming locations from iconic movies, and what they look like today! i also really like the fact that most of them haven’t changed all that much and are generally still pretty recognizable from Ghostbusters! about the only thing we’ve got in Colorado is the Stanley Hotel, which was used for a few exterior shots in The Shining. luckily the Stanley is also a historic landmark and aside from a few trees, literally looks exactly the same as the images in The Shining (i have to admit that i can’t stand The Shining, but i’m one of those people that can recite almost every line from Ghostbusters!)

    i went to see Ghostbusters in the theatre when it first came out (i must’ve only been about six). i remember the librarian ghost scared the shit out of me back then, but i think the reason i still love the movie is because it’s probably the first film i can actually remember going to see in a theatre. and yes, i had TWO of the Ghostbusters logo t-shirts that were the big thing back then (a tan one and a grey one…my mom has pictures somewhere).

  33. FYI, the shot from Central Park with the supposed view of Dana’s building: http://goo.gl/maps/ZOSe

    Mind you, the building is merely superimposed here. I used to walk to work every day this way, which is how I know the location. Surprising how little it’s actually changed.

  34. Awesome stuff here! This site rocks!

    Regarding Ghostbusters III:

    If they can get actors like Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Kirsten Schaal or Michael Cera for the comedic parts it would work.

    To draw in other younger audiences: Josh Hutcherson, Emile Hirsch, Jamie Bell, Elle Fanning, Zac Efron, Melonie Diaz or Chloe Moretz as other students of the paranormal or friends of the GB trainees who help them throughout the film.

    Jack Black as Peter Venkman’s obnoxious but kind baby brother from New Jersey.

    Jay Pharoah could play Winston’s mechanic nephew from Detroit who helps create Ecto-2.

    Jonah Hill and Kirsten Schaal as Ray’s cousin and niece who studied at Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts.

    Michael Cera and Jesse Eisenberg as Egon’s cousins from the Spengler farm {Real GB cartoon} who were taught by Professor Tobin at I.P.S.R. – The Institute For Paranormal Studies and Research.

    They could do it centered around the aftermath of the Mayan date of Dec 12, 2012.

    Oscar Barrett {Dana’s son} make a cameo as a NYC employee that helps them out.

    Ellen Page would be great as a female Ghostbuster who knows everything all the originals know, with Ray and Egon’s brains and Peter’s personality.

    The other ones could be trainees that don’t make it through cause they get too scared.

    Of course, someone has to play the child of Louis Tully and Janine Melnitz, who, somehow, keeps “Slimer” as a pet.

  35. I see haunted looking old buildings all the time in NYC but don’t know what they are. Some are in DUMBO.

  36. regarding: GRANDMA’s SPECTRAL LOCOMOTIVE

    I think I found the spot where the reporter telling us about his grandma’s story around the campfire. It looks to be the corner of 5th Avenue and West 57th Street. You can see a sign in the shot that looks the way the TRUMP TOWER sign looked in 1984 from the other pics I sent you for comparison.

    The “Men’s Wear” part looks like the windows at what is now {as of 2012} BVLGARI. The garbage truck stops at the corner in front of TIFFANY & CO. and the stone type buildings in the background match today what is behind the reporter one to two blocks away on the left. There is no mailbox on 5th Avenue anymore and what looks like a stop sign in the spot where the Trump Tower clock is now.

    The facades of the buildings have probably been changed a few times over the last 30 years like Bulgari and the Trump Tower but the old lampposts in the shot match what is there now. This is, however, just a guess. I’d have to go to the spot in person and see.

    Autobogg

  37. I have most Ghostbusters filming locations documented on my long-running fansite, Spook Central, at http://spookcentral.cjb.net/loc.htm

    A lot of the unknowns from this article have been identified and are either already listed on my site, or will soon be. I’m actually in the process right now of getting photographs taken of some half-dozen newly-identified locations. I post “Shot On Site” articles on the site’s blog (on the main page) detailing how locations have been identified using current photos (and sometimes vintage photos)..

  38. Nick, your website is a revelation! I found it through an acting-related blog and all I can say is I never expected to find a website that completely reflects my own personal compulsions!

    When I lived in the Bay Area in the 80s I went on a bit of a “Vertigo” pilgrimage after that film’s long-awaited rerelease, and to this day one of my favorite things to do (especially when I visit San Francisco) is to track down and visit locations for some of my favorite films, including “The Conversation” and the 1978 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. Once I even recruited a friend to help me recreate a moment from “What’s Up Doc”!

    Anyway, Ghostbusters. Was in NYC in ’91 and found the firehall by looking up “Vika Electronics” (not Vera) in the phone book! (This was before the framegrab era -I’d spotted it during the 3 X I’d seen it in the theatre).

    So I guess what I’m saying is I am simply frustrated movie location scout and didn’t know it! Thanks for helping me to discover that!

    Luckily I’m also a big sticker and badge fan, so watch for a donation to your project soon.

    Thanks, and looking forward to more fascinating posts!

  39. I stumbled across this web site, and bloody hell it’s great! I too grew up w/ ‘Ghostbusters’ and other iconic 80′s films like ‘Superman’. I believe Superman and ‘The Fisher King’ (1991 Jeff Bridges/ Robin Williams) will deserve some serious Scout photography – although I’m sure everybody in North America has their .02 worth on this subject.

    Keep up the good work.

    Now I need to visit Manhattan again…damn you.

    Huzzah!

    RJG

  40. Subject: Peter and Ray in Chinatown photograph

    The shot was taken on Mott street near Canal. The metal railing is next to 68 Mott Street. The red columns in the background at the left of the Ghostbuster photo is now a Chase bank.

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