"New York, You've Changed" is a new Scouting NY site feature in
which the New York depicted in movies is compared with the city of
today. This is not the usual list of shooting locations and addresses
to visit next time you tour the city. Instead, this is a full
shot-by-shot dissection to see what New York once was and what it has
become, for better or worse. I've tried to recreate the angles and
framing as best as possible, and have presented the shots (more or
less) in the order they appear in the film. This is Part Two to our look
at Ghostbusters -- Part One is here. Enjoy!
With this article, we're completing our "New York, You've Changed"
look at Ghostbusters. 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.
You get abetter view later in the film, when Peter arrives to find EPA officerWalter Peck attempting to shut down the powergrid. As you can see inboth pictures, a lot has changed, primarily the complete gutting ofwhat I think was the "Vera Electronics Company," now the Cercle RougeBrasserie. Lots of building painting changes to boot. Also, North MooreStreet has lost meter parking but has gained some foliage.
Also, note the squat brick building on the corner, which you can see in this aerial view when the storage facility blows.
This brickbuilding was purchased by a wealthy family, who recently built a fivestory home on top of it (yep, that's a single family house). Becausethe brick building is landmarked, they had to integrate it into theirdesign. Ha, I'd sort of rather live in the firehouse, but then, I'mnuts.
As Peterlistens to Ray's endless list of car repairs, we get a glimpse acrossHudson Street, which has completely changed (the restaurant on thecorner is now Walkers). Also note that the "ENTRANCE AROUND CORNER"sign on the firehouse still exists:
Aftermeeting Dana Barrett, the Ghostbusters complete their first successfulbust at the Sedgewick Hotel. Where is its New York counterpart? You'llhave to go to California for that one -- they filmed at Los Angeles' MillenniumBiltmore Hotel.
We next geta 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'tplace it. I think that sign says "Mens Wear" on the right, though Idoubt that helps. Also, the bearded guy looking into the camera isactually an actor.
The nextpart of the montage appears to have been shot around the LittleItaly/Chinatown neighborhood. I was excited to go searching for some ofthe more obscure shots, but was ultimately thwarted by the San Gennarofestival (for non-New Yorkers, thousands of people descend on LittleItaly for an enormous street fair, making photography, walking, evenbreathing nearly impossible). I'm planning on returning to the areaafter the festival is over sometime this November. We get a shot of theEctomobile passing by the infamous Umberto's ...
Next, we seePeter and Ray in Chinatown. I really feel there's enough clues in thispicture to locate this (the metal railing, the yellow sign, etc.) andfor shooting purposes, I bet it's very close to Umberto's.
This nextshot of Egon with a smoking trap had me wondering, until I noticed botha "Luna Restaurant" and a "PIZZA" sign in the background. Granted, thiscould be anywhere in New York (there are several "Luna" establishmentsin the city), but if they were doing montage shots in Little Italy, itseems to be a safe bet that this was there.
It wouldalso make perfect sense to find an apartment building with a lowerlevel like this in the neighborhood. If anyone knows differently,please let me know!
Here, we seethe Ectomobile cruise past St. Patrick's and Saks Fifth Ave. In many ofthese shots, it's actually Dan Aykroyd driving the car, even though youcan't see him. Looks like the awnings are gone. Also, for reasonsunknown, we now need to put up with that incredibly frustratingsidewalk barrier:
Finally, wesee the Ghostbusters running up Rockefeller Center. Apparently, theyhad no permission to shoot there, and you can actually see a securityguy (maybe the man in white on the left?) running after them in theshot.
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.
Bad thingsquickly begin happening in Dana's apartment building. For the life ofme, 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 Ican't seem to find this curve. Any guesses? The best I could come upwith is the entrance at 72nd Street, which doesn't feel totally right.
With aterror dog right behind him, Louis Tully flees to Central Park anddesperately tries to get into Tavern on the Green via the patio (Ibelieve the statue was a prop).
Inside, abirthday party is in full swing (trivia -- the birthday girl is DebbieGibson). I located the correct side of the patio by that tree, which ishidden behind the hanging flowers in the below picture.
Louis runsto the left and desperately tries the door, which is locked (FYI -- foranyone running from terror dogs, the door is still locked):
Finally, inwhat has to be one of the more sympathy-inducing scenes in moderncinema, Louis backs against a window -- it's the second one to the rightof the tree trunk.
Shortlyafter, Walter Peck shuts down the protection grid and the containmentunit blows. As you watch the enormous explosion blow out of theGhostbusters roof, you could be forgiven for not noticing the MATERACANVAS ad on the building to the left, which is still there today:
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 New York Times article).
During the commotion, Louis manages to escape -- anyone know what street this?
A quicktidbit you might have missed -- in this shot, you can see a "STAY PUFTMARSHMALLOWS" wall ad on the building to the left (wouldn't that be agreat addition to the now otherwise ugly wall?).
As ghostsescape, we see one fly out of a subway station, which can be found atthe City Hall RW train entrance on Broadway west of City Hall (thenewsstand seems to have shifted south a block):
Next, a commuter gets in a cab with a corpse. Any idea what avenue this is?
I've had this cab driver before:
The cab takes off, sending traffic swerving out of its path. This might give a second clue to the location of the scene:
For a briefmoment, we get a shot of Louis crossing the street as he makes his wayto Dana's apartment. What I find interesting about this shot is anawning that reads "WIENERWALD - Austrian Restaurant." I had never heardof a WienerWald before -- apparently, it was the largest fast foodrestaurant in Europe during the 1970's, and had attempted to expand toAmerica. Now, there are only 63 locations left in Germany and Austria.
Slimer makes another appearance, this time in a hot dog vendor's cart outside of the McGraw-Hill building at Rockefeller Center:
Dana sends asignal to Louis, who hears it in Times Square. This is the weirdestshot -- it's like the went out of their way to hide the fact that it'sTimes Square. I only recognized it for the TKTS booth (boy has thatchanged) and the George Cohan statue. Odd that they would shoot in theheart of Manhattan and not show the surrounding area (methinks they gotthis shot on the fly).
After a meeting with the mayor at City Hall ...
...the boys in gray peel out and head uptown...
... vowing to "run some red lights."
Much of thedestruction that occurs to the street in front of Dana's building wasactually shot on a sound stage in California with a full two-storyreplica of the apartment's facade (if you pay close attention, it'svery clear when they're on the set):
Finally, theone and only Stay Puft Marshmallow Man makes an appearance in ColumbusCircle. Aw, I miss the old Museum of Arts & Design building, evenif it was one of the ugliest buildings in the city (for years, Ithought it was some sort of parking garage). Note the sliver of an oldMarlboro Cigarettes ad on the right:
As terrified New Yorkers flee, they have no idea that the store on the corner will one day be a FedEx Kinkos:
As Stay Puft approaches the building, you can see just how drastic the building addition is:
I had to post this great shot -- I never noticed that two great villains, Walter Peck and Stay Puft, appear in one brief shot.
Finally, years later, the marshmallow has been cleaned up and New York is basically back to normal.
As it turns out, most of the changes between the New York in Ghostbusters andthe New York of 2009 are pretty small, due to the fact that the moviewas mostly shot in locations where change is not allowed (the New YorkPublic Library, Columbia, Rockefeller Center, etc.). In my mind, it's avery good thing that these New York treasures are still standingstrong more than 25 years later.
With the recent success of 80's nostalgia reboots (G.I. Joe, Transformers, etc.), there's been renewed talk about a Ghostbusters 3. A script was commissioned by Sony Pictures, with writing duties handed to Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, the writers of Year One.
The writers of Year One. Are you fucking kidding me?
Look, I'dkill to see the Ghostbusters hit the streets of New York for one lastfight against the paranormal, but when I say the Ghostbusters, I don'tmean a new crop of comedic actors. Nothing makes me fear for the worstmore than thinking of Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Seth Rogan, or PaulRudd hefting on a proton pack (in his defense, Seth Rogan is on recordas saying he will not be the guy to ruin Ghostbusters). I'veheard industry-types say that there's no way Murray, Aykroyd, or Ramiscould support a tentpole movie like Ghostbusters 3.
Bullshit. If Harrison Ford can pack 'em in at 67 for a subpar Indy IV, there is no question that audiences will turn out in droves to see Ray, Peter, Egon, and Winston save New York one more time.
Anyway, hopeyou enjoyed! I'm going to try to make this a regular site feature. Nexttime, we'll move a bit further back in film history.
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