Los Angeles Central Library shot as New York Public Library in original Ghostbusters (1984) film.
Last week, news broke that The New York Public Library had finally caved in to public and critical outcry and would indeed save the stacks in the main branch of the library at Bryant Park. For this week’s film locations column, we’re looking back to the first ghostbusters film from 1984. In the movie, New York City faces an outbreak of paranormal activity of “alleged ghost sightings,” and the first sighting happens in the New York Public Library.
New York Public Library 489 5th Ave New York
The librarian in the foreground in the image rolls a cart of books on her way to the stacks of the New York Public Library. There, she encounters a ghost which she later reports to Ghostbusters, a three-man team of scientists who worked as parapsychology professors before they were laid off.
The library, which opened in 1911, was conceived of by a brilliant librarian, U.S. Army surgeon and hospital planner Dr. John Shaw Billings and designed by Carrère and Hastings. Shaw’s blueprint included seven floors of stacks and a very large reading room for the public. He also intended the library to have the quickest book delivery system of the time (in part powered by pneumatic tubes!)
Columbia University 2960 Broadway
Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) and Dr. Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) sit to have drink outside the Low Memorial Library after being laid off by the University’s Board of Regents. The film shows Dr. Venkman working in Havemeyer Hall (called Weaver Hall in the movie) and the film crew shot the interiors elsewhere.
The Low Memorial Library was named after Abiel Abbot Low who was the father of Columbia University’s president Seth Low. It was designed by an architectural firm McKim, Mead, and White in a the Roman classical style and built in 1897. Seth Low wanted Morning Side Heights, where the library stands, to be an, “academic village,” with a vast plaza.
Hook & Ladder 8 Fire Station 14 North Moore Street
This fire station used to have two arched truck entrances before the early twenty century when the city sliced the station in half to extend Varick street. The Board of Estimate and Apportionment had put $3 million dollars into adding 30 feet to the street to connect it to 7th avenue. Increasing the width of the street 100 feet, something had to give.
The Ghostbusters movie set brought in its own fireman’s pole. The one above is used by the firemen working today.
Josie Robertson Plaza The Fountain at Lincoln Center
Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) hops around Lincoln Center’s fountain as he waits for Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver). Since the filming of Ghostbusters in the eighties, the Lincoln Center’s fountain was replaced in a renovation by Diller, Scofidio + Renfro. The firm Water Entertainment Technologies Design (WET Design), a Los Angeles-based firm, designed the new fountain which shoots 40 feet in the air and uses recycled water.
55 Central Park West
This Art Deco building was known as both the Shandor Building and Spook Central in the film. Named after the film’s mad doctor Ivo Shandor, the Shandor Building housed Dana Barrett, Louis Tully and Zuul the ghost. It was constructed in the early twentieth century in anticipation of opening of the Independent Subway Line in 1932.
The façade of the building uses a large array of colors to display a palette that gets brighter as you go up the building. It has been suggested that the palette was intended to give the building a flame-like effect or to make it seem as though the sun shines on the building at all hours of light.
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church 3 West 65th Street
In the film, the doctors got the chance to choose the form in which Gozer, the final ghost in the film, would appear. Dr. Raymond Stantz suggested Mr. Stay Puft (who Stantz called Tubby Soft-Squeeze) because a large marshmallow is not very threatening–at least he thought so until enormous marshmallow squashed the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.
The church might look like its made of stone but it’s actually a predominantly steel structure. Also notice the spire’s oxidized copper layer on the edge of the church’s roof. The church was designed in 1902 by Schickel & Ditmars, whose partner William Schickel also designed the first free public library in New York City, The Ottendorfer Library.
Tavern on the Green
The Tavern on the Green remains under renovation to this day in Central Park.
Though we did not highlight every location though Ghostbusters filmed up and down the streets of New York but other notable locations include the Irving Trust Building (1 wall street; shot as the Manhattan City Bank), Rockefeller Center, Times Square, the intersection of Centre Street and Chambers Street, 16 East 63rd Street (between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue), Manhattan Bridge, Steve Flanders Square, Columbus Circle, and City Hall (at Murray St. & Broadway).