Looking for Ghostbusters

“Well there’s something you don’t see every day”

New York feels as much a main character in the film Ghostbusters as Venkman, Spengler and Co. in my opinion. The city provides an energy and grounding to the story – what begins as a group of frustrated scientists capturing all manner of strange and freaky ghosts becomes a desperate mission to save all of New York from Gozer the Destroyer! I have fond memories of being scared by the film when I was probably too young to have watched it. The library poltergeist and Dana’s apartment haunting particularly stuck in my memory. It was great to re-watch it before a trip to the Big Apple last year and locations from the film were high on the ‘to do’ list.

 We ticked off the three main locations; the Firehouse, Dana’s Apartment and Central Library. There were many more we could have included but we quickly realised when planning trip that we couldn’t do and see everything. A more detailed breakdown of all the locations from the film can be found here; http://onthesetofnewyork.com/ghostbusters.html

Interestingly I’ve realised that I’m probably more familiar with Ghostbusters through the animated series ‘The Real Ghostbusters’ and the toy range that accompanied it despite never having any of them! Ah, the brainwashing of an 80’s child!

Firehouse

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Iconic is a fair word to use for this building which is still a functioning fire station. Its future has been secured by a recently completed multimillion dollar refurbishment (it now has ladies loos)  and with a fresh coat of paint it’s never looked better. The fire crew adopted the Ghostbusters logo as their emblem and there’s a large version painted on the floor. It was interesting the observe how many people wandered past and stopped to grab a few photos in the brief time we were there – it’s not a main tourist area and it’s not somewhere you’d find yourself casually passing, you have to go find it.

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Dana’s Apartment

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On the edge of Central Park is Dana’s apartment building (extended higher in the film) but recognisable, 55 Central Park West. There’s the church next to it which gets flattened by the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. We also wandered up to Columbus Circle and retraced the path of destruction.

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Central Library

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I really love this library, it’s a proper grand civic building, and ridiculously over embellished. The main library section is split into two – one side the general public can wander in and take pictures amongst the readers. The other half has an attendant where you presumably have to show a pass to get in. It’s the only building were security search your bags on the way in and the way out – are they just checking that you’ve not nicked a book or two?

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“We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!”

 Bonus location – outside of the Central Library is were Spiderman’s Uncle Ben gets shot! Proof that with great locations comes great filming opportunities!

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Fantasy vs reality

It is possible to be disappointed with a location, but I always try not to set my expectations too high. It’s usually the places you’ve most longed to visit which can lead to the biggest anti-climax. Fortunately, I’ve had more hits than misses during the years location wanderings I’ve had. Although I speak as one of the thousands of tourists who have visited ‘Ramsey Street’ from the Australian soap opera Neighbours each year and have instantly said “But it looks so much bigger on the telly!”.

Last month I had a fantastic trip to New York with my boyfriend and now fiance Andy. (The Empire State Building should get a full blog entry of its own #isaidyes.) When two location geeks holiday together, double the sights! Plenty to write about for years to come from a single week in the Big Apple – so many locations, so little time. In Central Park alone we managed to bag a Doctor Who and The Avengers location simultaneously. With so many familiar places to visit you’re bound to get surprise when one doesn’t quite live up to expectations.

One New York location which wasn’t high on my list to see but certainly worth trying to find if we were in the neighbourhood was the Men in Black Headquarters which was used in the Will Smith & Tommy Lee Jones ‘Men in Black’ films. One evening we headed to the Battery Park area for a night on the town. (Highly recommend the utterly magical Seaglass Carousel by the way).

Now this was something like I was expecting to see…

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It was dark when we visited it which was probably for the best as it wasn’t at its most photogenic to say the least. The Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel Ventilation Building is currently surrounded by fencing and is part of a much larger construction and redevelopment project. The building isn’t going anywhere but it’s not going to be in any more movies anytime soon. Now I know the next time I see MIB I’ll just picture railings and a couple of port-a-loos! The Hollywood glamour has now sadly gone!

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We also got a glimpse of another location in the first MIB film – the site of the 1939 and 1964 New York’s World Fair. You can just spot the very sci-fi looking towers as you pass by in your taxi from JFK Airport. It’s now Flushing Meadows – Corona Park which I would certainly want to visit if I went back.