It was two years ago that we here ventured through the annals of the Ghostbusters franchise. You can still visit Part I and Part II today. So what developments have occurred since? Have the Ghostbusters once more knocked out New York City’s power? Have the Scoleri Brothers returned yet again? None of the above. Instead, what we all reminisced about two years ago can now be experienced in hardcover with Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History and that’s a cause for celebration. And the trek of nostalgia doesn’t have to stop there if you’re visiting Los Angeles or New York. Yes siree Bob, consider this the jubilation during the Ghostbusters’ end credits. While it may not be to the same effect as when Ray Stantz originally said it, for all intents and purposes today, “We’re back!”
“We came. We saw. We kicked its ass!”
– Peter Venkman
Much has happened in the two years since we last gathered. The beloved Egon Spengler, also known as Harold Ramis, passed away. As a presenter alongside Amy Adams during the Oscars in 2014, Bill Murray was heartfelt in ad-libbing the inclusion of Ramis at the end of the list of nominees for Best Cinematography. Subsequently, after years upon years, the news of Ghostbusters 3 was finally squashed, and replaced with the development and production of Ghostbusters, a female-driven reboot. Then came a wild rumor of a spin-off with two high-profile male leads and, most recently, the announcement of an animated movie. I don’t know if anyone at Sony has a clear vision of where they’re going with this, but they’re keen on getting somewhere and building the bridge as-they-go to get there. When for years all we got were rumors too good to be true, now we seem to get news that’s, “Too bad it is true.” Let’s be real about it, the news hasn’t been the best received by many fans. And let’s face it; the traditionalists may never warm up to the movie coming to theaters next year. In their defense, while still set in New York City, it was partially filmed in Boston, so a little authenticity went out the window there. The Statue Of Liberty surely calls nowhere outside the Big Apple home, right? But at least they didn’t outsource to Canada or England!
“I think this building should be condemned. There’s serious metal fatigue in all the load-bearing members, the wiring is substandard, it’s completely inadequate for our power needs, and the neighborhood is like a demilitarized zone.”
– Egon Spengler
“Hey, does this pole still work? Wow. This place is great. When can we move in? You gotta try this pole. I’m gonna get my stuff. Hey. We should stay here. Tonight. Sleep here. You know, to try it out.”
“I think we’ll take it.”
So you want to revisit the sites. Relive the hazardous materials. How can you? I’m glad I asked. If you’re heading to or plan to head to California or New York, never neglect to venture to the addresses below to visit the real firehouses that served as the official filming locations for the movies. As a reference, the one in Los Angeles was used for interior shots while the one in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood was used as the exterior.
225 E. 5th St., Los Angeles, CA
Hook & Ladder 8
14 North Moore Street, New York City, NY
These two stations have their own unique histories for you aficionados. Station 23 in LA has been used in many movies, like 1994’s The Mask and 2003’s National Security, and it was considered one of the most ornate in its heyday. It was completed in 1910 and had its fair share of controversy because of its elaborate costs and luxurious construction materials. Described as the palace of chiefs, the Los Angeles Times once offered a descriptive visit more reminiscent of a tour of a rich-and-famous home than municipal emergency services. Access to the third floor of the firehouse was by a private elevator. The third floor was covered in Peruvian mahogany with French bevel glass mirrors. There was a mantel composed of Vermont marble, polished inlaid oak floors, a private slide pole, a massive brass bed, a private roof garden and a tub big enough for two chiefs.
But once Station 23 was built, there was no going back. After all, demolition is an added cost. It was fully loaded with horse, wagon and buggy. It was the primary residence of the city’s fire chief and the fire department’s headquarters. Alas, what is new will always get old. By 1960, it was decommissioned as the Los Angeles Fire Department began replacing old stations with modern ones housing all the bells and whistles of upgraded facilities. Six years later, 23 was declared a Historic Cultural Monument by the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission, yet that didn’t stop it from falling into disrepair in subsequent decades with proximity to the reach of Skid Row. Looters stripped much of the station. Bear in mind, this was the 70’s and Slimer wasn’t there yet to scare them off.
Concerns were eventually raised that the building had become a hazard. Some proposed tearing it down. The Fire Commission disagreed in 1979 and announced plans to restore the rooms back to their 1910 condition and turn the station into a museum. A fund was established to revamp it because of a caveat that no city dollars could be used. Donations only trickled in with the wisdom of establishing a museum near Skid Row being questioned. The museum’s final location was settled elsewhere, but the firehouse was promoted as a filming location and has subsequently lived on in our eyes through Hollywood lenses.
Now on the flip side, back on the East Coast in New York City, the domain of the Ghostbusters where the Ecto-1 burst out of its gates is an active firehouse to this day as Hook & Ladder 8. Built two years after Station 23, Ladder 8 made its home in a few places around the city before settling down at its current address. Many of the firemen who served their city around the time of the movies have long since moved on, but its changing members have kept the Ghostbusters spirit alive. Ghostbusters fans are allowed and encouraged to visit the sacred ground of GBHQ. One wall proudly displays the Ghostbusters II sign that once hung outside as well as set photographs from when the crew was busy filming away on celluloid.
Ladder 8 keeps the paranormal investigators close to their hearts. Nope, no He-Man here. This group isn’t comprised of ungrateful little yuppie larvae. They remember what the Ghostbusters did for New York and they’re proud to wear it. The company’s symbol is a modified Ghostbusters II logo. It and the station’s name are adorned on t-shirts that they sell in-house while also available online.
While these firemen keep the Ghostbusters spirit alive, it should be us Ghostbuster fans honoring the firemen as well. It would be remiss of me not to posthumously mention two specifically, Lieutenant Vincent G. Halloran and Fireman 3rd Grade William D. Prance, both of Hook & Ladder 8. Two plaques in their name adorn the sides of the front gate outside. William Prance died executing his duties in December of 1976. As always, while people flee, first responders run toward the danger to save lives at the risk of their own without asking anything in return. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get anything in return. Lt. Vincent Halloran died during the attacks on September 11, 2001. When the South Tower collapsed, the order was given to evacuate the North. While the rest of Ladder 8 made it out safely, it seems Lt. Halloran paused behind to help someone. This was his last act of heroism. He perished that day along with hundreds of others. These are two men. Many others in their field have and do leave our world. But many more keep serving their communities and it’s comforting to know there’s someone willing to stand up when the one in front falls down.
When Harold Ramis passed away last year, someone started a memorial outside Hook & Ladder 8 by the station’s sidewalk art; complete with candles, flowers and a pack of Twinkies. It’s not a monument or a holiday, but can you get any more iconic? So folks, come one, come all, make your pilgrimages. Hook & Ladder 8 welcomes all and Station 23 has yet to be forgotten. If you can’t go as far as either, don’t forget your local firehouse or policemen with a wave of appreciation. Need I remind you they all helped the Ghostbusters when the world needed them the most?
Alas, maybe you also want to revisit the Ghostbusters from the comfort of your recliner here in the now. Thankfully, arriving this October 27th from Insight Editions (no stranger to major franchises and creative literary productions) is Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History. Written by Daniel Wallace and contributed to by Dan Aykroyd and Ivan Reitman, the book is, at 200+ pages and a little over 11” high across the cover, mammoth. Take a gander at the publisher’s pitch:
WHO YA GONNA CALL? For the first time, Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History takes a comprehensive look at the entire franchise, telling the complete story behind the creation of a true pop culture phenomenon.
Beginning with an in-depth look at the original film, Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History delves into the archives to showcase a wealth of never-before-seen concept art and photography that will take fans into the production of a true classic. Also featuring a large section on Ghostbusters II, the book brings together exclusive interviews with the key players from both films, including director Ivan Reitman; stars Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver; and producers Michael C. Gross and Joe Medjuck.
The book also explores the creation of The Real Ghostbusters and Extreme Ghostbusters animated shows, featuring interviews with the writers, animators, and voice artists, plus previously unseen sketches, animation cels, and other stunning visuals. With additional sections on Ghostbusters comics, video games, merchandise, and fandom, Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History is the last word on one of the most popular franchises of all time.
ALSO INCLUDES INCREDIBLE SPECIAL ITEMS THAT WILL THRILL GHOSTBUSTERS FANS, INCLUDING:
-Peter Venkman’s business card
-Sedgewick Hotel storyboard booklet
-Rare concept art sketches of ghostbusting gadgets
-Stay Puft Marshmallow Man package sticker
-A schematic of the Gozer temple miniature
Are you sold yet? Let me take a shot because I hope Insight Editions covets my stamp of approval, so with the marketing mumbo-jumbo out of the way, it is time to get down to brass tacks. Let it be known the product description above cannot convey the magnitude of this publication. That’s not to say the blurb isn’t beautifully written. But this book is breathtaking with fantastically creative inserts spread throughout, a fabulous layout from start to finish and just generally f’ing amazing content. From plentiful commentary to a plethora of sketches and photographs, this isn’t just a snapshot. This is an encyclopedia of archival material from Sony Pictures and pulp culture concerning all things Ghostbusters with a stunning mix of color, graphics and in-depth text. Bonuses you would never conjure up, like a written breakdown of an ILM scene and a preview card for test audiences, decorate this book and never feel out of place. That’s the beauty of its design. The inserts are beyond just an accessory. They are a part of the book. It’s a triumph of painstaking design to a degree of engineering. The inserts have been laid in to stick to pages with the end result feeling like a fusion of mad-scientist logs, a conceptual binder or something to convey to readers the makers had so much content that no one else would have known how to fit it in. But they did fit it in and it’s so organic in flow. The layout of this book deserves an award on its own.
Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History has done what it set out to do and with honors. Its title is no misnomer. If this generation doesn’t get a sequel to be proud of, it will still have this publication to at least remember Ghostbusters as a franchise to fondly anticipate. It’s a title for youth, it’s a title for adults; this is a book for any and every diehard Ghostbusters fan. If you’re not a collector with a big library or museum of memorabilia, you can have this book alone to make up for it. But if you are a collector, your collection isn’t complete without it. Well, be it all year round, throughout October or just for Halloween: Happy Ghostbustin’ to all and to all a good fright.