On Sunday June 21st the DiMenna Children’s History Museum’s summer film series continues with the classic New York movie Ghostbusters! This story of amateur parapsychologists – Ray, Peter, Winston, and Egon – includes a ton of great New York City locations, and gives a good sense of what Manhattan looked like in the 1980s. The director Ivan Reitman worked on site in New York City for four weeks and then continued with soundstage shooting in Los Angeles to complete the film.

GhostbustersMany of the opening scenes take place on Columbia University’s campus (the film starts with two of the main characters losing their jobs at the university). Here’s a shot of the Low Memorial Library from 1915, and you’ll see this location in the movie as well – not much has changed!

Low Library
Low Library and College Walk, Columbia University, 116th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway, New York City, 1915. William J. Roege photograph collection, 1910-1937

The New York Public Library’s lions, Patience and Fortitude, make an appearance as the Ghostbusters spot a ghostly librarian in the main branch building. This photograph from 1923 shows a very different street scene in front of the library. See how many differences you can spot between 1923 New York City and today.

NYPL main branch
New York Public Library, Fifth Avenue, view looking south from 42nd Street, New York City, 1923. (Roege 9396)

The Ghostbusters’ headquarters in the movie is real-life Hook & Ladder No. 8, shown here in early 1900s. It is still an active firehouse, and if you visit it in Tribeca at the corner of Varick and N. Moore streets, you’ll find a firehouse insignia merged with a Ghostbusters’ logo painted on the sidewalk out front.

Hook Ladder 8
Manhattan: 36th Street (West) – Between 9th and 10th Avenues. New York Public Library

 In only four weeks of shooting, Reitman included many more locations and neighborhoods. See if you can spot the Washington Square Arch, Little Italy, Chinatown, 55 Central Park West, Rockefeller Center, the fountain at Lincoln Center, Tavern on the Green, City Hall, and Columbus Circle!

After the film, don’t forget to visit the DiMenna Children’s History Museum’s Historical Viewfinder, where you can choose a borough and then flip through now and then views of photographs throughout the city!


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