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Ghostbusters turns 35: Some spooky New York facts about 1984’s slimiest supernatural comedy

Ghostbusters turns 35: Some spooky New York facts about 1984's slimiest supernatural comedy

In honor of the 35th anniversary of the discharge of Ghostbusters, we’re re-presenting and revising this 2013 article, an in depth take a look at this movie by means of the attitude of 1980s New York Metropolis. 

For an even deeper dive into the historical past of this basic movie, take a look at our second episode of the Bowery Boys Film Membership podcast dedicated to Ghostbusters, unique to those that help the Bowery Boys: New York Metropolis Historical past podcast on Patreon. For extra info, scroll down the underside of this text.

The supernatural comedy Ghostbusters was launched to American film theaters 35 years in the past this weekend — on June eight, 1984. (Only a week after one other bizarre comedy Gremlins.)

This bizarre and hilarious basic starring Invoice Murray, Dan AckroydHarold Ramis and Ernie Hudson was one of many largest hits of 1984, a uncommon mix of wry comedy, particular results and spectacular New York Metropolis landscapes.  Regardless of its preposterous premise — that ghosts look both like oozing fats blobs or Sheena Easton-ish supermodels — the movie flawlessly shows the straightforward comedian skills of its stars and divulges a New York Metropolis with solely monsters as its biggest menace.

However in wanting over previous tales of mediums, haunted homes and historic legends for our annual Halloween podcasts, I noticed there was a really broad, however reliable foundation of historic religious skepticism behind this story, written by Ackroyd and Ramis.  There have been each believers and cynics from New York historical past who’ve tried to show the existence of supernatural forces and have even tried to purge them from the town.

From there, I took a deeper look into the historic individuals, locations and occasions depicted within the movie, if not solely to seek out proof of New York’s ghostbusting forefathers, then a minimum of to benefit from the popular culture references of the early 1980s.

Ghostbusters was a mainstream providing, so it goes very mild on its city commentary of a metropolis choosing itself up out of withering debt.  Its ghosts are fairly democratic, actually, terrorizing libraries, public locations, ethnic neighborhoods and rich condominiums alike.

Listed here are 25 fascinating items of trivia about Ghostbusters, placing the movie inside the context of New York Metropolis historical past.  Clearly there are a ton of spoilers right here, in case you haven’t but seen it.  (NOTE: This text initially ran in 2013 however has been commonly revised.)


1)  Ghostbusters is about in 1984, late October-early November, judging from the dates on newspapers and magazines which seem halfway via the movie.  However the movie’s launch date was in June 1984, so technically the movie paperwork future occasions.

The looks of Sumerian gods on the Higher West Aspect and a workforce of wise-cracking ghost exterminators definitely would have been the highest story of the yr.  

Actual life just isn’t as magical.  The large story in New York Metropolis that yr came to visit a month later, when Bernhard Goetz shot 4 males who tried to mug him within the subway.

2) The New York Public Librarysetting for the delightfully shushy spectre within the opening scene, may very well be haunted.  In any case, it sits on land that was as soon as a burial floor.

In response to historian Charles Hemstreet, writing in 1899, “The bottom between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, Fortieth and Forty-second Streets, now occupied by Bryant Park and the previous reservoir, was bought by the town in 1822, and in 1823, a potter’s area was established there, the one in Washington Sq. having been deserted in its favor.”

By the best way, the 2 lions (named Endurance and Fortitude) are prominently featured within the opening, a sly parallel to the stone monsters which can seem later.

three) Our ghostbusting heroes are initially situated at Columbia Collegein Weaver Corridor (truly Havemeyer Corridor).  Though there isn’t a precise division of paranormal psychology, Columbia does have a connection to one in every of New York’s earliest institutes of paranormal research.

The American Society for Psychical Analysis was based in 1884 — precisely one century earlier than Ghostbusters — as a respectable group trying to separate spiritualist quacks from precise supernatural phenomena.

Its most outstanding chief was James H. Hyslop (at proper), a former professor of ethics and logic at Columbia College.  His early research learn like a jazz-age X-Information, investigating ghosts, religious possession and a wierd number of psychological talents.  (We converse of Hyslop in two of our previous ghost story podcasts, investigating a case of religious harassment and call by way of a Ouija board.)

four) Whereas no hauntings are literally displayed at Columbia College within the movie, they definitely might have been.  The campus is situated on the location of previous Bloomingdale Insane Asylum (pictured above), the place various mentally disturbed people met their finish.  

Columbia purchased the power within the 1880s and demolished most of it to make method for his or her McKim, Mead and White-designed campus.  However one construction nonetheless stays — the Macy Villa, a house for mentally-troubled wealthy gents, in in the present day’s Buell Corridor, residence of La Maison Francaise.

5) The deck of playing cards utilized by Dr. Venkman (Invoice Murray) to check the telepathic talents of his sufferers (and to flirt with the beautiful blonde) are referred to as Zener playing cardsinvented by Karl Zener and J. B. Rhine, who was impressed to enter psychical analysis after listening to a lecture by writer and paranormal cheerleader Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  

In 1980, the New York Occasions printed a set of Zener playing cards in its January 29, 1980 version. “The reader might decide for themselves.”

6)  Dr. Venkman’s continued skepticism provides Murray a number of excuses to stare on the digital camera and mug sardonic.  However his character in all probability has probably the most in widespread with New York’s unique ghostbusters, particularly adventurer and conjurer Joseph Rinn.  

He and his childhood good friend Harry Houdini basked in debunking frauds whereas preserving alive the phantasm of magic and thriller for his or her acts.  Rinn most famously held an indication at Carnegie Corridor the place he taunted mediums and mystics to train their powers for a prize pot of $10,000.  No one ever gained the cash.

7) Manhattan Metropolis Financial institutiondepicted within the movie, isn’t actual.  Coincidentally, the scene was filmed at one other financial institution immediately throughout the road from the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue/41st Road.  In truth, you’ll be able to nonetheless see the library scaffolding to the left.

What was the scaffolding for?  In 1982, the library embarked a $20 million renovation undertaking.  It’s troublesome to think about at this time, however this basic New York establishment had been badly abused through the years.  

The 1982 renovation was meant to return the constructing to its unique glory. “It’s a restoration in some methods, a modernization in others,” stated the Occasions. “[T]his formidable plan emerges out of the conviction that this constructing is as a lot part of our cultural heritage because the billions of phrases that it accommodates.”

Ghostbusters headquarters — the TriBeCa hearth home on North Moore. Pic courtesy Phillip Ritz

eight) Maybe probably the most beloved New York website from the movie is Ghostbusters headquarters, the Hook and Ladder Firm No. eight hearth station on the nook of North Moore Road and Varick Road.  

If the constructing seems to be awkwardly slender to you, there’s a very good cause — half the constructing was demolished in 1914 when Varick Road was widened.  A number of different buildings, together with St. John’s Chapelowned by Trinity Church, weren’t so fortunate, worn out completely by Varick’s enlargement.

Spengler (Harold Ramis) says of the firehouse. “I feel this constructing ought to be condemned….The neighborhood is sort of a demilitarized zone.”  In reality, the transformed lofts and warehouses of TriBeCa (Triangle Under Canal) — the identify was barely over a decade previous in 1984 — have been a haven for artists, designers and musicians by this time and doubtless deemed ‘gritty’ by the requirements of 1980s American movie goers.

9) Sigourney Weaver might be probably the most New York-centric star of Ghostbusters and an ideal selection for the position of Dana, the subtle woman possessed by an historic God.  (Dana’s within the New York Philharmonic in any case!)  Weaver was a daily on the off-Broadway stage, an offbeat star who as soon as starred in a Christopher Durang play concerning the Titanic.  Her first two movie performances are in two 1970s New York movie classics — Serpico and Annie Corridor.

10) As Sigourney arrives at her house constructing, you’ll be able to clearly determine Checker Cabs passing on the road, although that have been already a dying breed by this time, the final rolling out from its Michigan plant in 1982.

11) The Sedgewick Lodgewebsite of the Ghostbusters’ most conspicuous catch, is one in every of a number of Los Angeles places pretending to be in New York.  Nevertheless, in the event that they needed a haunted lodge close to the New York Public Library, they might have seemed no additional than the Algonquin Lodgetwo blocks north on West 44th Road, notoriously well-known for the ghosts of the Spherical Desk.

The Sedgewick is performed within the movie by L.A.’s Biltmore Lodgewebsite of a number of Academy Awards ceremonies and itself haunted by a well-known ghost, that of Elizabeth Briefaka the Black Dahlia.

12) Ectoplasm isn’t only a cool phrase for ‘slime’.  In 1922, the New York Night World ran pictures of mediums coated in ectoplasm.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle described it as “thick, sticky, whitish substance exuding from the medium in trance and powerful sufficient to raise tables, carry out spirit rappings and different bizarre stunts.”

13) A New Jersey highschool scholar named Jeff Nichols discovered momentary fame when he by accident appeared as an additional within the movie, through the temporary scene through which Invoice Murray and Dan Ackroyd storm by means of Rockefeller Middle.  (Did they not signal launch types again then?) The scene seems in a montage of the crew’s many ghost-exterminating antics.

Nichols’ fame was then compounded by being interviewed by the New York Occasions in July.  ”I acquired a bunch of telephone calls from buddies who noticed it, saying, ‘Hey, Jeff, you’re within the film,’ ” stated a stunned Jeff final week. ”It’s unusual to assume that I’m in a film that’s enjoying everywhere in the nation…… I assume it’s like being a part of historical past.”

No offense to Jeff, however I’m kinda extra fascinated in one other temporary scene throughout this montage, when the Ghostmobile speeds previous Umberto’s Clam Home in its unique location (the nook of Mulberry and Hester).

14) Larry King on the radio in Ghostbusters in 1984:

And you may click on right here to see Larry King truly recording his present in 1984.  The distinction? In the actual video, he’s smoking a cigarette!

15) There’s a foolish montage of 1984 publications that go swirling by.  A Individuals Journal touting the trio additionally reveals “Princess Di Anticipating Once more!”  The journal (supposedly from October 1984) is slightly off — Prince Harry was born on September 15, 1984.

The New York Publish additionally celebrates one off-screen Ghostbusters’ victory: GHOST COPS BUST CHINATOWN SPOOK.

Within the early 1980s, the Publish gave $50,000 every week in its WINGO! lottery promotion.  In response to writer and former Submit reporter Charlie Carillothe competition illicited some slightly mysterious winners:

“One Wingo winner confirmed up soaked in sweat and actually wanting over each shoulders.  He wouldn’t even inform me his actual identify, and he coated his face together with his arms when the photographer lifted the digital camera.  ‘No footage!’ he cried by way of his fingers.  ‘Can’t have my image within the paper!’”

16) Additionally given credible prominence throughout this montage is the long-gone OMNI Journala science publication with the distinctive distinction of being one of many first magazines to concurrently publish a digital version (in 1986).

Right here’s a replica of the October 1984 concern from the film, and the precise October 1984 concern:

17) Dana listens to Casey Kasem gab concerning the Ghostbusters throughout his Prime 40 countdown present.  His spouse Jean Kasem seems later within the film as Rick Moranis’ ditzy date.  Had we been aware about all the broadcast, we might have heard that the highest 5 songs that week have been (in Kasem countdown order): 5)  “Fortunate Star” by Madonnafour) “Purple Rain” by Prince,  three) “Exhausting Behavior To Break” by Chicago,  2) “Caribbean Queen (No Extra Love On The Run)” by Billy Oceanand 1) “I Simply Referred to as To Say I Love You” by Stevie Marvel.

18) Veteran New York broadcaster Joe Franklin seems on tv, asking Murray, “I’m positive there’s one huge query on everyone’s thoughts, and I think about you’re the man to reply that.  How is Elvis, and have you ever seen him recently?”

Franklin, presumably recording from WWOR‘s brand-new studios in Secaucus, NJ, was pertaining to a hot-button challenge in 1984.  That yr, some believers discovered proof that Elvis Presley was truly nonetheless alive, because of an notorious photograph that emerged within the press of Elvis with Muhammed Ali.  

19)  A supernatural upheaval of godlike forces emerges from Dana’s icebox, situated in a penthouse at 55 Central Park West.  Within the movie, this constructing, constructed in 1929, was made with cosmic connections in thoughts, with a super-conductive antenna, “pulling in and concentrating religious turbulence.” Stantz (Dan Ackroyd) provides,  “The architect was both a licensed genius or a pathetic wacko.”

In Ghostbusters lore, the architect is Ivo Shandor.  In actuality, the constructing was constructed by the much less immortal architectural agency of Schwartz and Grossgreatest recognized earlier than then for his or her constructing The Majestic on West 75th Road.  55 Central Park West has been residence to Rudy ValleeGinger RogersDonna Karan and Calvin Klein.

There does look like one thing unusual happening with the constructing. In response to the newest AIA Information: “[I]f the solar appears brighter on the prime than the underside, it’s brighter.  A flush of brick from pink to yellow rises from the second flooring to the solar.”  Gozer is impressed.

20) Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) simply needs any person to love him.  Though a “nerd” within the basic 1980s nerd type, he’s just about a prototype for the fashionable hipster.  In a futile effort to get Dana to his get together, he proclaims that they may “play some Tornado, do some breakdancing.”

1984 was the yr that this type of road dancing went mainstream, with movies, trend and music that yr monopolizing on the development.  Breakin‘ was in theaters for a month already when Ghostbusters opened on June eight, 1984.  It handily beat a competing movie making its debut that very same week — Beat Road (see under).  Consider it or not, Beat Road debuted on extra screens than Ghostbusters, however misplaced within the field workplace battle.


21)  Louis runs into Central Park to escapes Gozer’s demon minion however is cornered at Tavern On The Inexperienced.  It will have been fairly a celebration that Louis and the hellbeast have been crashing, as the flamboyant restaurant was celebrating its 50th anniversary that very month.  Tavern On The Inexperienced opened on October 20, 1934, with a lavish dinner attended by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and parks commissioner Robert Moses (pictured under, picture courtesy New York Occasions)

22) Later, a possessed Louis (because the Key Grasp) streaks by means of Occasions Sq. in a demoniacal rage, on the lookout for the Gate Keeper.  It’s a reasonably nondescript early 80s midtown panorama, however search for the curious chain restaurant WienerWald within the background.  The German franchise had a number of places all through the USA however was unable to show People on to its menu — principally hen, regardless of the identify.  One intrepid Ghostbusters fan has efficiently situated the exact block on Seventh Avenue the place this WienerWald was situated.

23)  With the town in disaster, the Ghostbusters are invited to Metropolis Corridor for a gathering.  As they enter the constructing, you’ll be able to clearly see the banner for an exhibit within the rotunda referred to as “Furnishing the Streets: 1902-1922.”  This was an precise exhibit which opened on September 22, 1983, that includes vintage road decorations — from hearth posts and previous subway indicators to even an previous horse trough.  As a result of the banner couldn’t be eliminated for some cause, the filmmakers cleverly obscure the exhibition’s date with a flagpole.  Nevertheless you possibly can nonetheless make out that it says 1983.


24)  The Keep Puft Marshmallow Man in his deliciously savage rage stomps up Central Park West from Columbus Circle.  Probably the most vital landmark destroyed by this sugary-sweet demon spawn is Holy Trinity Lutheran Church which sits subsequent to 55 Central Park West.

The picturesque Gothic constructing has been a magnet for chaos from the very starting.  Over three,000 individuals crammed the road when its cornerstone was laid in November 1902, inflicting a visitors meltdown.  In line with the New York Tribune, “It was as a lot because the police might do for a time to stop individuals from being run down by trolley automobiles and cars, as many individuals have been compelled to face in the midst of the road.”

25)  Our courageous heroes vanquish Gozer and return to the road, greeted to the applause of grateful New Yorkers.  I might be remiss, nevertheless, if I didn’t point out one other set of Ghostbusters who as soon as scoured Manhattan of its supernatural nuisances:  the wacky Bowery Boys comedy troupe made a movie in 1957 referred to as  Spook Chasers.  As an alternative of a fireplace station, these exterminators of undesirable phantoms arrange store in a sweet retailer. 

SPOOK CHASERS, from left, Huntz Corridor, Stanley Clements, 1957



And eventually! New for 2019 — the second episode of the Bowery Boys Film Membership — from Greg and Tom of the Bowery Boys: New York Metropolis Historical past — explores the movie Ghostbusters and its wealthy historic particulars.

How does this zany horror comedy use the plight of New York Metropolis as a backdrop for its seize bag of goofy ghosts? How do the histories of the New York Public Library, Columbia College, Central Park and the Higher West Aspect grow to be entangled in its unusual and hilarious plot? And why is the Tribeca location of Ghostbusters headquarters — in an deserted firehouse — so essential to the story?

Pay attention in as Greg and Tom talk about the movie’s spooky Manhattan places then give a joyful spoiler-filled synopsis via its zany and inconceivable plot.

How do I get the Bowery Boys Film Membership? Merely help the Bowery Boys: New York Metropolis Historical past podcast at any degree on Patreon. When you’re signed on, you’ll see a personal RSS hyperlink that may be put instantly into your favourite podcast participant. Or it may be performed instantly from the Patreon app when you’re signed in. Your help on Patreon assists us in producing our podcast and this web site and it helps as we endeavor to share our love of New York Metropolis historical past with the world!

Do you have to watch the film earlier than you take heed to this episode? This podcast could be loved each by those that have seen the movie and people who’ve by no means even heard of it.  

We expect our tackle Ghostbusters may encourage you to search for the movie’s many desirable (however straightforward to miss) historic particulars, so in the event you don’t thoughts being spoiled on the plot, give it a pay attention first, then watch the film! In any other case come again to the present after you’ve watched it. 

Thanks for supporting the Bowery Boys podcast!

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