CATEGORIES On the Scene
"The whole building is a huge super-conductive antenna that was designed and built expressly for the purpose of pulling in and concentrating spiritual turbulence. Your girlfriend, Pete, lives in the corner penthouse of Spook Central."
So quipped paranormal scientist-turned-ghost exterminator Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) to his partner Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) in 1984 sci-fi comedy classic 'Ghostbusters.' In the film "Spook Central" is 55 Central Park West (the filmmakers kept the location's actual address), a portal designed to bring forth the ancient, malevolent entity Gozer, Ghostbusters' main foe. (Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson round out the title team.)
So quipped paranormal scientist-turned-ghost exterminator Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) to his partner Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) in 1984 sci-fi comedy classic 'Ghostbusters.' In the film, "Spook Central" is 55 Central Park West (the filmmakers kept the location's actual address), a portal designed to bring forth the ancient, malevolent entity Gozer, Ghostbusters' main foe. (Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson round out the title team.)
The real 55 Central Park West, between 65th and 66th Streets, is a striking Art Deco-style co-op building in Manhattan known mainly for its lovely pre-war apartments and interesting brickwork. Any turbulence in the building has generally involved real estate, as when director Mike Nichols and his wife, Diane Sawyer, unsuccessfully tried to buy Calvin Klein's penthouse apartment in the late '90s. Other notable residents have included Rudy Vallee, Ginger Rogers, David Geffen and designer Donna Karan.
In the movie, the building was created by insane architect Ivo Shandor, whose secret society of Gozer worshippers have performed rituals on its roof since 1920. However, 55 CPW, designed by the firm of Schwartz and Gross, wasn't actually built until 1929. Initially One Fifth Avenue near Washington Square, with its Gothic trimmings and stylized gargoyles, was chosen for the movie's location, but local residents wanted no part of the Hollywood production.
Location as Character: As the gateway for a malignant force who's bent on world destruction, 55 CPW has a starring role in the movie. Its residents include Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), Venkman's aforementioned love interest, and her mild-mannered, socially inept 22nd floor neighbor Louis Tully (Rick Moranis). Both become possessed by roof gargoyles-turned-terror dogs in the service of Gozer, who is eventually summoned to the building's roof shrine for a showdown with the Ghostbusters team. [SPOILER ALERT!] Later, the evil entity returns to 55 CPW in the form of a giant, wrathful Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (long story), where it's destroyed by the team, who ultimately emerge from the building triumphant.
Historical Significance: The building, which is included in the Central Park West Historic District, opened as a rental property in 1930, the first full-blown Art Deco building on Central Park West. Its unusual brick facade, shaded from dark purple at its base to yellow-white at the top, underwent restoration a decade ago. 'Ghostbusters' was a huge hit upon release, grossing $23 million in its first week, a studio record at the time. The second-highest grossing movie of 1984, behind 'Beverly Hills Cop,' it would spawn a 1989 sequel, an animated TV series, several video games and one of the catchiest theme songs ever to lodge in moviegoers' brains. The highly anticipated 'Ghostbusters 3,' directed by Ivan Reitman, who helmed the first two, is tentatively set for 2012 release.
Fun Facts: Just as many movie stars are shorter in real life than they appear on screen, the Ghostbusters Building, as it's been known since the mid-'80s, is only 19 stories tall; through the magic of pre-CGI studio art, it was made to look much taller in the film. The building was used for the movie's exterior shots only; the first three floors were duplicated in Los Angeles for the climactic scene in which the ground breaks up. Rooftop scenes were also shot on a set in L.A. Right across the street from 55 CPW, in Central Park, stands the now shuttered Tavern on the Green, where Louis pounds on a window while trying to escape a hellhound.
Directions: From Times Square or Penn Station, take the 1 subway line up to 66th Street (Lincoln Center) and walk one block east. Or take the M10 or M20 bus up 8th Avenue, which turns into Central Park West.
Visitor Information: It's a residential building guarded by doormen who are probably accustomed to discouraging 'Ghostbusters' fans hoping for a peek inside. Unless you know someone who lives there, the best way to get in is to purchase -- or feign interest in acquiring -- a co-op. Currently, there are five apartments ranging from $997,000 to $6.95 million for sale in this pet-friendly building. Demon dogs welcome!