It’s very rare that Spook Central’s Shot On Site series has covered a location that only appears in a deleted scene. Even a place like Truffles Cafe, where the Ectomobile rejected a parking ticket in a deleted scene, technically appeared in the film in the background of a magazine photo. Well, today’s Ghostbusters location doesn’t appear anywhere in the final film.
[teaserbreak]The location is one we all already knew, but yet none of us realized it. To explain that, let’s hop in the Wayback Machine (because the DeLorean has a flat) and set the time dials to January 14, 2012. That’s when Matthew Jordan sent me an e-mail alerting me to a line mentioned in the Ghostbusters 1999 DVD liner notes essay:
Additional Los Angeles locations included a downtown L.A. firehouse, MacArthur Park, the Biltmore Hotel and The Burbank Studios’ ranch, where a two-story facade of Dana’s apartment building was re-created.
The information in that essay was sourced from the original press kit. A near-identical copy of that sentence appeared on page 6 of the Production Information document.
We’ve all read that essay when we bought our DVDs 21 years ago, and some of you even read the press kit documents that have been on Spook Central for many years, yet I never noticed the mention of MacArthur Park until 2012 when Matt e-mailed me to point it out. Apparently, nobody else noticed, either, because he could not find anything about it online. (The only other reference to MacArthur Park I found was on page 4 of Ghostbusters: Book of Movie Madness, where it is an answer to question #2.)
MacArthur Park (originally Westlake Park) is a park dating back to the late nineteenth century in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. On May 7, 1942, the park was renamed to honor Army General Douglas MacArthur, through the influence of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, who thought it might boost his presidential ambitions for General MacArthur. In May 1972, MacArthur Park was designated City of Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument #100. The park is bordered on the north by West 6th Street, on the south by West 7th Street, on the west by South Park View Street, and on the east by South Alvarado Street, with Wilshire Boulevard running through the middle from west to east. There are two tunnels running under Wilshire that connect both halves of the park. The western tunnel close to South Park View Street is what I’ll call “Tunnel #1“; it currently has a lot of murals painted inside and outside. The eastern tunnel close to South Alvarado Street is what I’ll call “Tunnel #2“; which is mural-free as far as I can tell. I have noted both tunnels on the map below.
Lots of movies and television shows have filmed in the park, but Matt could not recall anything from Ghostbusters being filmed there. All of the Central Park scenes in the movie were actually filmed in the real Central Park in New York, so what else was there? After giving it a lot of thought, I could only think of one thing the crew could have filmed there: the deleted scene where Louis confronts muggers in a Central Park tunnel.
Eight years ago, when Matt and I were researching this, we only had the small black & white photo from Making Ghostbusters to go off of because no footage from the scene had been made public. Even with that one photo, I was able to somewhat confirm the location to my satisfaction, but I was really hesitant to go public with that knowledge because I wanted a little more to solidify it. I was hoping that Sony would finally release the scene to the public, so I’d have more to work with, and this past Summer they did that on the Ghostbusters 1&2 4K UHD & Blu-ray 5-disc set. Although some footage from the scene is missing, there’s enough there to help give me enough to finally call this.
Now, I have to be 100% clear on something. When Matt and I research these Shot on Site articles, we do so as “armchair tourists”. With the exception of some Time Square locations I visited six years ago, neither of us have ever visited any of these locations in person. We do all of this using photos and information we find online, which leaves us at the mercy of others to capture what we need. As you could expect, that doesn’t always give us the best materials to work with. In the case of MacArthur Park, I could not find photos of Tunnel #2 from the perspectives seen in the deleted scene.
Before I get to the scene photos, I need to mention that (from what I can see) both tunnels have the same architectural details. While I’m sure that Tunnel #2 is the one Louis and the muggers were in, I will use photos of Tunnel #1, where needed, to show details. Also, although Tunnel #1 is filled with murals, these were not there back in 1984, and are not relevant in my conclusion that it’s the other tunnel that is the filming location. With all of that explanation out of the way, let’s start by looking at Louis entering the tunnel from the north side. Had he entered from the south side, we would have seen the huge MacArthur Lake behind him, which would have given away that this is not New York.
You’ll notice a lot of trees and Autumn/Fall foliage in the scene. My gut feeling is that the brownish-red leaves and some of the smaller trees and bushes were placed there by the film crew to make it look more like New York’s Central Park. In all of the photos I’ve seen of MacArthur Park, there are a lot of palm trees, which certainly could not pass for “New York”. Filming would have taken place in early 1984, when it would have been Spring, not Fall. Also, foliage in a public park changes a lot in three decades, so I’m not entirely surprised that I couldn’t find exact matches for the trees. That’s why I’ve had to ignore most of the landscaping in the scene. I will state that I think the thick tree to Louis’ left is real, and is the key to why I think he’s going into Tunnel #2 and not #1. Below is a recent photo of Tunnel #1 looking in from the north (the ugly octopus mural on the overhead area lets you know which tunnel this is).
As you can see, there is a thick tree on the left, just like in the scene. However, if you look carefully at it, you’ll see that the trunk splits off into FOUR limbs, not three as in the scene. I would suspect that the three-limb tree is over by Tunnel #2. That said, let’s ignore the trees and foliage and just look at the tunnel architecture. The photo below by Tony Hoffarth seems to be Tunnel #2, looking in from the south end.
In the comparison below, you’ll see that the side wall of the entrance matches in both the scene and in real life.
Even the overhead area matches, especially the “diamond” in the middle, which is hard to see in the scene due to the shadows and the thin tree blocking it. In the comparison below, I’ve greatly lightened up the scene image so you can see that diamond.
Here’s another look at the tree and the tunnel entrance, as seen at the end of the deleted scene. This may help with identifying that specific tree, assuming that it’s still there.
Now let’s look at Louis inside the tunnel.
You get a good look at the landscaping right outside the tunnel, on what would be the north side of the park. If it were the south side, you’d see that big lake. Unfortunately, I could not match any of that up. Here’s a photo that would seem to be looking out the north end of Tunnel #1 (those look to be parts of the murals on the extreme left and right in the darkness).
What I could match is the shape of the curved tunnel ceiling and the look and placement of the overhead lights. These two elements were the only things I was able to match back in 2012 using the old Making Ghostbusters black and white photo.
So, there you have it. I wish I had better photos to match things up and definitively say which tunnel was used in the filming of this deleted scene, but I still think I found enough to prove that the scene was filmed in one of MacArthur Park’s tunnels.
Big thanks go to Matthew Jordan for noticing the mention of MacArthur Park in the 1999 DVD liner notes and bringing it to my attention. If you’d like to know more about MacArthur Park, check out Los Angeles Conservancy’s Official Page, Eric Brightwell’s website, Sasakthi Abeysinghe’s Tunnel #1 Photo (looking out the north end), TripAdvisor’s Photo Gallery, and Yelp’s Photo Gallery.
For more information about Ghostbusters filming locations, be sure to check out the rest of Spook Central’s Shot On Site articles, Spook Central’s Filming Locations page, and Chris Stewart’s Shot On Site articles. Thanks Chris for letting me use your awesome title. Title graphic drawn by Paul Kinsella.