Rolling along from the last Shot On Site, I’m still in a Ghostbusters 2 frame of mind. And so, I present to you 325 East 77th Street, New York. This is the site of Dana’s post-Gozerian apartment with her baby boy, Oscar. We first see the apartment as Dana approaches with bags fulls of groceries and a carriage full of Oscar – however, having stepped in some pink goo (likely shot in LA by a second unit practical effects team), things soon go wrong and the carriage careens off on its own, mom in pursuit. The entire sequence is shot on 77th Street, starting near the West end of the block, and moving down to 1st Ave, where Oscar has a near encounter with a bus.
To kick things off, I’ll start with some bits of trivia from the tail-end of the scene, which will make for a nice bookend effect, as this post will end with the same shot and a big piece of trivia I’ve dug up. Observe;
Only briefly seen flashing by (not counting the nice continuity of seeing it in the distance the shot before), the bus is the M15 – this is an actual Manhattan bus route that actually travels the route seen in the movie. You can see the bus’s number on the front – you can also see an ad for HOT 97 FM. What’s interesting about HOT 97 FM, is that the station as advertised was barely a few months old when the scene was shot in the fall/winter of 1988/1989. A station purchase saw the formerly WYNY 97 swap frequencies with WQHT 103 FM (a dance music station.) The station’s claim to fame was playing the same 12 inch version of popular dance tracks you could hear in the clubs. And now you know.
On with the breakdown.
For your reference, the first shot of Dana coming home has the camera looking West, towards Central Park (click for big image of opening shot – you’ll also need to see it to compare to the next image.) The first landmark we can pick out is 315 E 77th, with its green awning and white stone entrance (flanked by matching windows on either side.
A little further on she passes a fallout shelter – the signs marking the shelter aren’t there anymore, but the grated and locked door is, as well as a vent and nearby window with air conditioner – you can also see 315 in the background.
Dana has a brief talk with her landlord before the carriage takes off – we can see into the front entrance of 325, as well as a clear look at the building number as Oscar wheels off. You can also clearly see the fire escape and the tree nearby, though much taller now. In fact, one of the most interesting things I noticed during all this is how all the trees – barely noticeable in the movie, some of them – are now tall and shady. It’s been 20 years, after all.
The camera looks East for the first time and we see the awning for 335 East 77th – it’s notable for being unconnected to the building it belongs to. The awning is still there, weirdly standing in the middle of the sidewalk, though it is a new awning.
Here’s some movie fun;
You can see in the mirror that the camera is in the carriage, looking through a little window – the mirror is looking right back at Sigourney and the carriage, in nice contrast to the startled movers. However;
As the camera moves behind the carriage as it veers into the street, the mirror is angled up – if it were straight on, we’d see the camera crew. A nice trick for a quick shot. As well, we can see some landmarks in the building across the street, allowing us to match it to the current street photos.
We’re near the end of the street – oh noes! Traffic. And a major intersection! Again, while the building has superficially changed, key parts of the building remain untouched 20 years later, letting us match them up.
While hard to make out, the roofing built out over the sidewalk to cover the cafe seating is important to note – white with green lettering. Keep it in mind. Because once we move around the corner and Dana picks up Oscar, you can see a continuation of the covering with a street address of “1475-77” and what looks like “Green Kitchen.” But I’m getting ahead of myself. I will say one last thing – I skipped the shot just before this, with the dog walker. You can match up some nice features, like a posh door with railings, and an old sidewalk basement access that’s now covered over, but still visible. But it didn’t make for a very easy to view picture – so, take my word for it… having shot everything else on the one street, they didn’t run off and shoot the super-special two seconds of dogwalker somewhere else.
A nice wide shot of the intersection of 1st Avenue and East 77th Street – and that is the intersection, as you can compare features on surrounding buildings. It’s not easy, given the filming lens of the movie and the panoramic lens from Google Maps. Things are stretched and distorted, not to mention the depth of field is drastically different – but again, windows tell the tale. Click to see a bigger version, instead of using the tiny picture above. Note the restaurant in the bottom right – the Green Kitchen. 20 years later, the same restaurant still exists, though heavily facelifted.
But you’re saying to yourself, “that’s neat and all, but that’s a lot of work just to verify a location in New York.” Yeah, it is. But what set this off was that for one brief moment, I though the scene ended in LA. “But why?” you ask. Here comes that neato piece of trivia I mentioned.
I would like to introduce to you, Cho-Sen Food Shoppe Ltd. – as the buss whizzes past, we briefly see a green awning, and those hanging dividers that loosely separate the traffic and dust from the produce outside. They are also a facade, covering up an otherwise boring storefront. And that awning was recycled in LA, behind the road dig;
When I first saw it, it thought they moved the shot to LA, perhaps to allow them more freedom to set it up, practice with a remote controlled carriage, not get in the way of New York traffic yet again. But no – the building behind the Cho-Sen is the one in the wide shot in New York.
Which explains why the awning in the LA scene looked so loose compared to a real awning – it was moved to LA after the New York shoot and reused to redress a different street.
If any of you fan fiction writers were looking for a fictional grocery store that exists in the Ghostbusters canon, you’re welcome.