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15 Real Movie Locations You Can Actually Visit

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While many major films shoot on a closed sound stage, sometimes productions venture out into the real world to create movie magic. Here are 15 locations from famous films that you can actually visit.

1. The Firehouse from Ghostbusters

The Ghostbusters' New York City headquarters sits at 14 North Moore Street on the corner of Varick Street in TriBeCa. It's actually the home of Hook & Ladder Company #8, a fully working and operational New York Fire Department firehouse. Though the exterior of Ghostbusters HQ was in New York City, its interiors were filmed at another firehouse in Los Angeles, which is located at 225 E. 5th Street. Fire Station #23 was decommissioned in 1960 and the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission declared it a Historic Cultural Monument.

2. Nakatomi Plaza from Die Hard

Die Hard's Nakatomi Plaza is located at 2121 Avenue of the Stars, which is actually Fox Plaza, the corporate headquarters for Twentieth Century Fox in Los Angeles, California. A majority of Die Hard was filmed there, despite the building being under construction at the time of shooting. Fox Plaza is also featured in Speed, Airheads, and Fight Club. All four movies were released by Twentieth Century Fox. 

3. The House from A Christmas Story

While A Christmas Story is based in Indiana, the exterior house shots were filmed on location in Cleveland, Ohio. The Parkers' home is located at 3159 W. 11th Street in the Tremont neighborhood. After purchasing the house, Brian Jones set about renovating the house—including the interior, which the production shot on a soundstage in Toronto—into an exact replica of the Parkers’ house in the film. It's open to the public and serves as a museum that is full of props and movie memorabilia. There's even an "official" Chinese food restaurant located a few blocks away from A Christmas Story House and Museum, but it's not the same location featured in the holiday film.  

4. OCP Headquarters from Robocop

Although the original RoboCop took place in Detroit, Michigan, future downtown Detroit was an amalgam of Pittsburgh and Dallas. In fact, OCP corporate headquarters was actually Dallas City Hall; the production used matte paintings to make the building appear taller. 

5. The Hotel from The Grand Budapest Hotel


The department store Görlitzer Warenhaus (de) was used for the atrium lobby of the titular Grand Budapest Hotel. The store was scheduled for demolition, but the production saved it. “The columns, the staircases, that really magnificent window and that huge chandelier, that was already there, that’s all original,” production designer Adam Stockhausen told The Hollywood Reporter. “We built everything else.” Currently, the department store is under renovation and will re-open in early 2016.

6. Yavin IV from Star Wars

The Massassi Outpost rebel base on the fourth moon of Yavin in the original Star Wars film was shot on location at the Mayan temple ruins in The Tikal National Park in Guatemala. Director George Lucas picked the location after he saw a poster at a travel agency while shooting in London, England.

7. The Tribute Training Center from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Marriott Marquis Hotel at 265 Peachtree Center Avenue NE in Atlanta, Georgia is where you'll find the posh Tributes' Quarters and Training Center from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The hotel was chosen for its gigantic atrium—at one time the largest in the world—and beautiful glass elevators. The Tributes' living quarters were filmed on the 10th floor and a set was built on the hotel's roof.

8. Subterranean Pool from 127 Hours

At the beginning of 127 Hours, Aron Ralston (James Franco) meets two hikers (Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn); the trio dives into a subterranean pool with a 55-foot drop. The pool is actually a natural hot spring located at the Homestead Resort in Midway, Utah. But you can't recreate the scene: The resort won't let you dive into the hot spring like the actors did in the movie for safety reasons.

9. The Overlook Hotel from The Shining

While the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining was an elaborate set on a sound stage at EMI Elstree Studios in England (the largest set ever built at the studio), the fictional hotel is based on two real hotels in the United States. The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, California was the inspiration for the interior of the Overlook, while Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon was used for its exterior and establishing shots.

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado was the original inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in the novel The Shining. Author Stephen King was disappointed that Kubrick didn't shoot at The Stanley, but the made-for-TV version of The Shining was filmed at the Colorado hotel in 1997 instead. The Stanley also appeared in Dumb and Dumber in 1994.   

10. Camp Towanda from Wet Hot American Summer


Wet Hot American Summer was shot at Camp Towanda, a sleepaway summer camp in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Though the movie takes place during the summer, it was actually filmed during the spring before new campers arrived for the season. Unlike what the title suggests, it was actually very cold and rainy throughout the 28-day shoot. The producers told the owners that Wet Hot American Summer was a family comedy, so they could get clearance from Camp Towanda to shoot there. After the camp owner's watched it, they were appalled by the movie.

11. Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters from X-Men

Hatley Castle, located in British Columbia, Canada, was used as the exterior for Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters in the X-Men movies. It first appeared in Generation X, a made-for-TV movie in 1996, but later it found its way into X-Men, X2: X-Men United, and X-Men: The Last Stand throughout the 2000s. Twentieth Century Fox also used Casa Loma in Toronto and Parkwood Estate in Oshawa, Ontario for exteriors, while movie sets on a soundstage in Los Angeles were used to shoot interiors.

12. The Baseball Diamond from Field of Dreams

Universal Studios built the field of Field of Dreams in Dubuque County, Iowa, near the city of Dyersville, straddling the land of two farmers. After filming completed in 1988, the field was left behind for the landowners: the Lansing family, who owned the house, the infield, and right field; and the Ameskamp family, who maintained left and center. At first, there were two driveways, two gift shops, and two parking lots, and equipment purchased from left field couldn’t be used on the right. But in 2007, the Ameskamps sold their part of the baseball diamond to the Lansings. Currently, Go the Distance Baseball, LLC owns the 193 acres where the film was shot; there are plans to develop a new $74 million complex called Baseball Heaven.

13. The Cherry Street Inn from Groundhog Day

While Groundhog Day takes place Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, it was almost entirely filmed in  Woodstock, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The cozy bed and breakfast where Bill Murray's Phil Connors stays is Royal Victorian Manor, located at 344 Fremont Street. Woodstock also hosts an annual Groundhog Day, where fans can experience the movie with special events around the town—including a two-night stay at the Royal Victorian Manor.  

14. Top Notch from Dazed & Confused

Top Notch, located at 7525 Burnet Road in Austin, Texas, served as one of the teen hangouts in Dazed & Confused: It's where David Wooderson, played by Matthew McConaughey, first got the word out about the party at the Moontower (no longer a functioning site) at the film's climax. You can still grab a burger at the Top Notch today.

15. Hogwarts from Harry Potter

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter film series is actually a few locations around England: Christ Church College and Cathedral in Oxford was used for its 16th-century stone staircase, and the design of its dining hall inspired Hogwarts' Great Hall; Gloucester Cathedral was used for the school's hallways in the first two films; Lacock Abbey near Chippenham in Wiltshire was used for a number of Hogwarts’ classrooms; and Bodleian Library of Oxford University, Fourth Form Room of Harrow Old Schools in Greater London, and Alnwick Castle in Northumberland were all locations used to bring Hogwarts alive on the big screen.

A majority of Christ Church College and Durham Cathedral's architecture inspired the design of the numerous Hogwarts movie sets at Leavesden Studios in Hertfordshire, England.  

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Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
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10 Fascinating Facts About Ella Fitzgerald
Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Today marks what would have been the 101st birthday of Ella Fitzgerald, the pioneering jazz singer who helped revolutionize the genre. But the iconic songstress’s foray into the music industry was almost accidental, as she had planned to show off her dancing skills when she made her stage debut. Celebrate the birthday of the artist known as the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz, or just plain ol’ Lady Ella with these fascinating facts.

1. SHE WAS A JAZZ FAN FROM A YOUNG AGE.

Though she attempted to launch her career as a dancer (more on that in a moment), Ella Fitzgerald was a jazz enthusiast from a very young age. She was a fan of Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby, and truly idolized Connee Boswell of the Boswell Sisters. “She was tops at the time,” Fitzgerald said in 1988. “I was attracted to her immediately. My mother brought home one of her records, and I fell in love with it. I tried so hard to sound just like her.”

2. SHE DABBLED IN CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES AS A TEENAGER.

A photo of Ella Fitzgerald
Carl Van Vechten - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Fitzgerald’s childhood wasn’t an easy one. Her stepfather was reportedly abusive to her, and that abuse continued following the death of Fitzgerald’s mother in 1932. Eventually, to escape the violence, she moved to Harlem to live with her aunt. While she had been a great student when she was younger, it was following that move that her dedication to education faltered. Her grades dropped and she often skipped school. But she found other ways to fill her days, not all of them legal: According to The New York Times, she worked for a mafia numbers runner and served as a police lookout at a local brothel. Her illicit activities eventually landed her in an orphanage, followed by a state reformatory.

3. SHE MADE HER STAGE DEBUT AT THE APOLLO THEATER.

In the early 1930s, Fitzgerald was able to make a little pocket change from the tips she made from passersby while singing on the streets of Harlem. In 1934, she finally got the chance to step onto a real (and very famous) stage when she took part in an Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater on November 21, 1934. It was her stage debut.

The then-17-year-old managed to wow the crowd by channeling her inner Connee Boswell and belting out her renditions of “Judy” and “The Object of My Affection.” She won, and took home a $25 prize. Here’s the interesting part: She entered the competition as a dancer. But when she saw that she had some stiff competition in that department, she opted to sing instead. It was the first big step toward a career in music.

4. A NURSERY RHYME HELPED HER GET THE PUBLIC’S ATTENTION.

Not long after her successful debut at the Apollo, Fitzgerald met bandleader Chick Webb. Though he was initially reluctant to hire her because of what The New York Times described as her “gawky and unkempt” appearance, her powerful voice won him over. "I thought my singing was pretty much hollering," she later said, "but Webb didn't."

Her first hit was a unique adaptation of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” which she helped to write based on what she described as "that old drop-the-handkerchief game I played from 6 to 7 years old on up."

5. SHE WAS PAINFULLY SHY.

Though it certainly takes a lot of courage to get up and perform in front of the world, those who knew and worked with Fitzgerald said that she was extremely shy. In Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz, trumpeter Mario Bauzá—who played with Fitzgerald in Chick Webb’s orchestra—explained that “she didn't hang out much. When she got into the band, she was dedicated to her music … She was a lonely girl around New York, just kept herself to herself, for the gig."

6. SHE MADE HER FILM DEBUT IN AN ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MOVIE.

As her IMDb profile attests, Fitzgerald contributed to a number of films and television series over the years, and not just to the soundtracks. She also worked as an actress on a handful of occasions (often an actress who sings), beginning with 1942’s Ride ‘Em Cowboy, a comedy-western starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.

7. SHE GOT SOME HELP FROM MARILYN MONROE.

“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt,” Fitzgerald said in a 1972 interview in Ms. Magazine. “It was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him—and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status—that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard … After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman—a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”

Though it has often been reported that the club’s owner did not want to book Fitzgerald because she was black, it was later explained that his reluctance wasn’t due to Fitzgerald’s race; he apparently didn’t believe that she was “glamorous” enough for the patrons to whom he catered.

8. SHE WAS THE FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN TO WIN A GRAMMY.

Ella Fitzgerald
William P. Gottlieb - LOC, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Among her many other accomplishments, in 1958 Fitzgerald became the first African American woman to win a Grammy Award. Actually, she won two awards that night: one for Best Jazz Performance, Soloist for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook, and another for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook.

9. HER FINAL PERFORMANCE WAS AT CARNEGIE HALL.

On June 27, 1991, Fitzgerald—who had, at that point, recorded more than 200 albums—performed at Carnegie Hall. It was the 26th time she had performed at the venue, and it ended up being her final performance.

10. SHE LOST BOTH OF HER LEGS TO DIABETES.

In her later years, Fitzgerald suffered from a number of health problems. She was hospitalized a handful of times during the 1980s for everything from respiratory problems to exhaustion. She also suffered from diabetes, which took much of her eyesight and led to her having to have both of her legs amputated below the knee in 1993. She never fully recovered from the surgery and never performed again. She passed away at her home in Beverly Hills on June 15, 1996.

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Everything That’s Leaving Netflix in May
Warner Bros. Entertainment
Warner Bros. Entertainment

While Netflix has got plenty of laughs in store for its streaming customers next month, the loss of several contemporary classic films likes Goodfellas, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Ocean’s Eleven, and The Hurt Locker means that if you’re in desperate need of a British rom-com fix or badass Scorsese crime drama fix, you’d better start streaming. Here’s everything that’s leaving Netflix in May.

MAY 1

Bridget Jones’s Diary
Casper
Chappie
Charlotte’s Web
Field of Dreams
Goodfellas
Ocean’s Eleven
Sahara
Silent Hill
The Exorcism of Emily Rose
The Hurt Locker
To Rome With Love
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar

MAY 2

12 Dates of Christmas
Beauty & the Briefcase
Cadet Kelly
Camp Rock
Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam
Cow Belles
Cyberbully
Disney’s The Cheetah Girls
Disney’s The Cheetah Girls 2
Disney’s The Cheetah Girls: One World
Frenemies
Geek Charming
Good Luck Charlie: It’s Christmas
Hello Sister, Goodbye Life
High School Musical
High School Musical 2
Jump In!
Lemonade Mouth
Little Einsteins: Seasons 1 – 2
My Fake Fiancé
Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension
Phineas and Ferb: Seasons 1 – 4
Princess Protection Program
Princess: A Modern Fairytale
Read It and Weep
Revenge of the Bridesmaids
Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure
Special Agent Oso: Seasons 1 – 2
StarStruck
Teen Spirit
The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Seasons 1 – 5
Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior
Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie

MAY 7

The Host

MAY 12

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

MAY 30

Disney’s The Jungle Book

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