That Time The Ghostbusters Destroyed A Los Angeles Hotel

Way back in 2009, I did my very first Scouting NY then-and-now look at the movie Ghostbusters to see how the city had changed 25 years after its production. Except I ran into one minor problem: not all of the movie was shot in New York.

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Astute readers may have noticed I left out one of the film’s most iconic scenes: the Ghostbusters’ first successful call to Manhattan’s posh Sedgewick Hotel. At the time, I wrote “Where is its New York counterpart? You’ll have to go to California for that one.”

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As it happens, I’m now in California, and the other day, finally had a chance to swing by the Sedgewick’s real life location, the Millenium Biltmore, to do a comparison. Here’s the same exterior over 30 years later:

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The geography is all quite accurate. The Ghostbusters park on West 5th Street and enter through the main doors. The signage visible across the street is all set-dressing (the one on the right reads “Gotham Travel”):

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The hotel manager gives them the rundown of the haunting as they traverse the hotel’s gorgeous central galleria…

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…which features marble columns, chandeliers, and frescoed ceilings by Italian artist Giovanni Smeraldi…

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…all looking much like it did when the hotel was first built (seen below circa the 1930s)::

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The Ghostbusters then head up to the 12th floor via elevator.

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To find the elevator bank where the Ghostbusters were mistaken for “some kind of cosmonaut,” simply go to the hotel’s main ground floor elevators, located midway down the galleria. Note the matching elevator door design. Also note how set dressing added curtains to the rear…

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…hiding the fact that the elevator hallway actually leads…

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…to the hotel’s original lobby (which I recently wrote about for having served as the inspiration for Disney’s Tower of Terror ride):

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“Why worry? Each of us is wearing an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back.” Sadly, the elevator this scene took place in was built on a sound stage…

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The real deal is actually wood-paneled:

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In fact, the entire hotel hallway sequence was all filmed at the studio…

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For comparison, the real hallways of the Biltmore:

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After Venkman’s sliming, the Ghostbusters track the ugly little spud into the hotel’s ballroom and find him hovering around the chandelier.

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The central chandelier was a prop, but the other four were original, since removed:

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This ornate room, now used as a lobby, was in fact never a ballroom. Instead, it was originally the Biltmore’s music room…

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Today, it has been significantly changed – exterior doors have been added on the west wall, with much of the eastern wall removed to create passages for guests.

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Most famously, the music room was used as John F. Kennedy’s campaign headquarters in 1960, with speeches given in the neighboring ballrooms (annoyingly, I can’t seem to find a single picture). Below, the room in its heyday:

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The Ghostbusters attack from the south wall…

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If you want to have a conversation about not crossing the streams, you’ll want to stand just in front of the arched opening:

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Slimer has a drink at the buffet table, set-up in the northwest corner…

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Ray blasts him on a table near the fountain mid-wall:

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They finally manage to finish the job in the center of the room…

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Successful, they head out, only to nearly get stiffed on the check:

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Today, this opening has been significantly expanded to allow pedestrian flow into the lobby.

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Two other major locations were shot in Los Angeles: the stacks of the New York Public Library (actually the downtown Los Angeles Public Library), and the interior of the firehouse. Not sure if I can get into either, but stay tuned…

-SCOUT

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3 comments

  1. It’s fun to imagine you walking around the hotel, camera in one hand, cell phone in the other, streaming this scene from the movie so you know what shots to get!

  2. i believe this hotel stairway was used in several episodes of Mad Men, once as a department store and once as an elegant restaurant. The lobby, stairs and hallways we re also used in an episode of Glee where a character was discovered to be an escort, he sings “how to be a heartbreaker”

  3. No photo of the music room, but I did find a photo of the exterior of the Biltmore with a 1960 campaign sign on it, about halfway down this page: http://glamamor.tumblr.com/page/3 And there’s a photo of Kennedy on this guy’s blog, with a Biltmore sign on the podium. Hard to say where he was in the hotel because it appears there were drapes behind him. http://jerrygarciasbrokendownpalaces.blogspot.com/2011/09/biltmore-hotel-515-south-olive-street.html