& Birthday Party
Fire Station #23
History - written by Lindsay Blake from IAmNotAStalker.com (used with permission)
Fire Station #23 actually has quite a storied, and sometimes scandalous, history. The structure, which first opened on October 2, 1910, was designed by the prominent architectural firm of Hudson & Munsell and served as the headquarters of the Los Angeles Fire Department for over a decade. The three story building, which cost between $57,000 and $60,000 to construct and measured 26 feet wide, 167 feet deep and encompassed 13,600 square feet of space, has been mired in controversy ever since the day it was first dedicated. In the beginning, angry citizens deemed the construction costs far too steep for a public building, especially since tax payers were footing the bill and considering the extravagance with which the place was built. And it has been said that no other fire station in the country is as opulent. The top floor of the structure housed the Fire Chief's suite, an apartment which every fire chief from 1910 to 1928 called home. The suite featured a marble bathroom complete with a double bathtub, Peruvian mahogany wall paneling, imported Italian tile detailing, oak flooring, a private elevator, a brass bed, a roof garden, a marble fireplace, and French bevel glass mirrors. The second floor contained the captain's dwelling, a library with built-in bookshelves, and bunks for twenty firefighters. The bottom floor contained an open arcade with enamel tiled walls, 21 foot high pressed tin ceilings, and stalls to accommodate ten horses. Pretty amazing for a fire house, huh? The Los Angeles Times even dubbed the place "the Taj Mahal of fire stations".
Fire Station #23 remained in operation for fifty years, whereupon its men responded to over 60,000 fires. But with the city moving towards building more modernized stations, Engine Truck Company #23 closed its doors for good on November 23rd, 1960. Because a station in Pacific Palisades adopted the "23" company number, the shuttered station took on the name "Old 23". For the next six years, the fire department utilized the space for medial records storage and as a training facility. In 1966, the same year it became a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument, the fire house was shut down by the department completely. For the next ten years, as the area surrounding the building became more and more impoverished, the station fell into serious disrepair and suffered from extreme vandalism and looting. In 1979, the Fire Commission decided to renovate the property and eventually turn it into a firehouse museum. A non-profit organization named Olde 23 was set up to oversee the restoration process and to raise funds for the massive undertaking. In 1980, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Nine years later, though, in 1988, the plans for turning Old #23 into a museum were nixed and the city opened their Los Angeles Fire Department Museum at a location in Hollywood instead.
Seven years later controversy came raining down upon the fire house once again when Los Angeles Times staff writer Robert J. Lopez authored a front page article accusing the Olde 23 corporation of misuse of funds. According to the article, Olde 23 had been collecting massive amounts of money (over $210,000 to be exact) thanks to the numerous film shoots that had taken place on the premises over the years. Not only had the company failed to turn that money over to the city, no one had even informed the city that any sort of filming was going on! Being that a city department is responsible for handing out film permits, I'm not quite sure how this even happened, but I guess it's just another case of a beaurocracy's right hand not knowing what the left is doing. Causing further scandal was the fact that even though the city had moved the museum location to a different site seven years prior, Olde 23 was still collecting not only filming fees that would supposedly go into the museum fund, but also donations for the project. AND (yes, there's more!) the supposed non-profit was ALSO collecting filming fees from production companies for shoots that were taking place at other firehouses in the area – firehouses that the Olde 23 company had no jurisdiction over! President and C.E.O. of the Olde 23 company was none other than Los Angeles Fire Chief Donald O. Manning himself, who resigned from his post just eight days after Lopez's newspaper article hit the stands. Following his resignation, Fire Station #23 continued to host film shoots, with the money going to the City of Los Angeles, the property's rightful owner. In September 2009, the building was designated surplus property and the city is considering selling it to several different private investors, including a restaurant developer and a non-profit arts education group.
Daniel Taylor, who has been caretaker of the property since 1985 and who the city is currently trying to evict, has different plans for the building, though. He formed the Corporation for History, Arts, and Culture (CHAC) with the hopes of restoring the old firehouse to its original grandeur for use as both a cultural center and a filming location. He estimates the restoration project to cost upwards of $8 million and is trying to raise funds now. If you would like to learn more about the cause, you can do so on CHAC's official website (archived 5/15/2011 & 10/7/2008). And while the future of the historic firehouse remains to be seen, in the meantime I highly recommend visiting it, as it is a truly beautiful and unique building.
Firehouse (1973) (TVM)
This television movie chronicles the tensions that arise when a previously all-white firehouse gets its first black fireman (Richard Roundtree). It is rumored to have been intended as the pilot for a series that may or may not have been filmed.
BUY IT - Single-Movie DVD (UAV), Single-Movie DVD (Synergy MOD), Double Feature /w Black Cobra DVD (Miracle), Double Feature /w Get Christie Love DVD (EastWest). (The film has been released numerous times from various public domain/budget companies; the aformentioned were only a few.)
A film noir starring Frederic Forrest as the famous crime author, Dashiell Hammett, embarking on a investigation not unlike those in his novels. The trail takes him to a seedy casino, which is the interior of the engine bay, significantly redressed (a raised floor area was added, and decals were applied to the distinctive green/white tilework to add the Chinese motif for "Happy/lucky/rich"). The exterior, also redressed, may make an appearance. One of the hanging orange lighting fixture was reused in Big Trouble in Little China (see below). (Description written by and location usage found by Ben King)
Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985)
The rear entrance of the firehouse on Winston St. portrays the front entrance of the police station.
BUY IT - Single-Movie DVD, PA 1&2 Double Feature DVD, PA 2&3 Double Feature DVD, 4 Film Favorites: PA 1-4 DVD Set (buy with 4FF: Cop Comedies DVD Set for all PA Films), and Complete Collection DVD Set.
Knight Rider Season 4 Premiere Promo (September 13, 1985)
To promote the two-hour Season 4 premiere episode, "Knight of the Juggernaut", set to air on September 20, 1985, NBC starting airing this promo showing Michael Knight (David Hasslehoff) entering the fog-filled firehouse to his find his trusty K.I.T.T. car. You wouldn't be to blame if you completely missed the firehouse in the ad. They kinda obscurred where it was - and that's putting aside the poor quality of the video I found. Footage from the promo was reused nearly six years later to promote Knight Rider 2000 (1991). The beautifully-clear still included below is courtesy of the Knight Rider Archives Facebook page.
The A-Team: "The Road To Hope" (October 29, 1985) (Season 4)
The firehouse appears as a homeless mission in this 5th episode of Season 4
Big Trouble In Little China (1986)
Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) and Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) enlist the help of Egg Shen (Victor Wong) in their fight against Lo Pan. Egg takes the pair to his home, which just so happens to be the firehouse, where the entrance to the underground Little China lies. How could the Ghostbusters have missed that?!? Interestingly, The Real Ghostbusters episode Big Trouble With Little Slimer pays reference to this movie with its title. Also, the singluar hanging orange lighting fixture originbally appeared in Hammett (see above). (Blu-ray frame grabs done by me, Paul Rudoff)
U2 - "Where The Streets Have No Name" (1987) (Music Video)
At the beginning of the short 5-minute version, the firehouse is seen very briefly as various shot of downtown Los Angeles are shown. The band was performing the song on the roof of a liquor store at the corner of 7th Ave. and S. Main St., which is two blocks south and two blocks west of the firehouse.
Poco - "Call It Love" (1989) (Music Video)
The band plays in the engine bay, while romantic interplay between a few couples in typical sun-soaked early-1990s settings (complete with water and sundresses) is intermixed.
WATCH IT - Official YouTube.
This was the first movie/show I've seen filmed in the firehouse that DIDN'T film in the iconic first floor garage area. In fact, the Flatliners crew used the firehouse in such obscure ways, and it was used to represent a few different places, that if you didn't know if was the firehouse, you could have easily not noticed.
1. One shot under the beginning titles of Oliver Platt's character seen through a wall opening talking into a tape recorder.
2. Platt's character supposedly in his student dorm lying on a couch, but the white tiled wall in the background gives it away as being the firehouse.
3. Keifer Sutherland's character runs out of his mansion-esque residence and into the stairway hallway. He relaxes after he encounters some trick-or-treaters.
4. Kevin Bacon puts Julia Roberts to bed in the backroom in the Captain's Quarters (I think this is supposed to be Julia's residence), then goes into the main area to speak to Platt and Stephen Baldwin.
5. Later Julia gets up in the backroom and sees a ghost in the mirror, while Bacon reads near the fireplace/bookcase area in the Captain's Quarters.
The best that I could tell, the firehouse was supposed to represent (1) Oliver Platt's residence, (2) the hallway of Keifer Sutherland's residence, AND (3) Julia Roberts' residence! The firehouse played more roles than any of the actors.
A Quiet Little Neighborhood, A Perfect Little Murder (1990) (TVM)
This television movie stars Teri Garr and Robert Urich. Also known as "A Perfect Little Murder". (Location usage found by Ben King)
BUY IT - VHS.
V.I. Warshawski (1991)
While trying to solve a crime in Chicago, Private Detective Victoria "V.I." Warshawski (Kathleen Turner) is abducted and taken to Smeissen's (Wayne Knight) hideout, which just so happens to be the firehouse. She is taken upstairs to Smeissen's office, which is the third floor Captain's Quarters that held the birthday party in Ghostbusters II. Later, she returns on her own to get some information out of Smeissen by using his "naked lady" nutcracker to crack his nuts. (Blu-ray frame grabs done by me, Paul Rudoff)
The Mask (1994)
Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey) takes his car to Ripley's Auto Finishing, which is located in the firehouse. The Ripley brothers are your stereotypical crooked auto mechanics, so later when he's transformed into The Mask, Stanley tears the place apart, and literally tears the brothers a new one.
On the DVD audio commentary, when this scene comes up, director Chuck Russell talks about the firehouse: "This is the building that was used in Ghostbusters as the Ghostbusters' garage. When you're on a limited budget, you've gotta find the most fascinating locations available, and go with them. Sometime's it seems like a coincidence, but really isn't. There's only certain period buildings in L.A. that are this unusual."
Mother (1995) (DTV)
Also known as "The Haunted Heart", this direct-to-video movie (possibly a television movie) stars Diane Ladd and Olympia Dukakis. A man's mother presents a dangerous element in his life, willing to commit murder, etc., etc. The film itself is largely forgettable, but did feature quite a lot of material of the firehouse. We see part of the engine bay, the rarely-seen elevator that spans the height of the whole building (and has a unique design feature of having two doors, positioned on sides adjacent to each other, rather than on opposite sides of the elevator car). There's also shots of the former Captain's quarters (lounge and bedroom as I recall), as well as a mocked-up set for the bathroom... this might've drawn some inspiration from the real bathroom in that part of the building. (Description written by and location usage found by Ben King)
BUY IT - VHS.
Set It Off (1996)
The firehouse is the hideout of the female gangstas. (Location usage found by Ben King)
Suicide Kings (1997)
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This adult movie is about the lives of the firefighters at station #23 (the same number as the one that used to occupy the firehouse in real-life), and in true Ghostbusters fashion, the exteriors of the station are filmed at a complete different location. Unlike Ghostbusters, the exterior doesn't match the interior at all. However, the "suicidal jumper" scene was filmed on top of the firehouse, even though it was supposed to take place at a location far away from Station #23 headquarters.
In case you're wondering, YES, people screw in the firehouse...several times, too. The first sex scene of the movie features adult film legend Jenna Jameson and Mickey G. on a bench on the right side of the engine bay. This is followed by a threesome with adult film legend Jill Kelly, Johnni Black, and Steve Drake in the third floor Captain's Quarters. Later on in the movie we get the final firehouse sex scene with Missy and Jonathan Morgan knocking boots on a firetruck in the engine bay. These may not be the people some Ghostbusters fans want to see get some action in the firehouse, but at least some people got their fires extinguished in the building.
One of the first big budget, multi-studio colaborations (Adam & Eve and Wicked) in adult film history, this movie was filmed in September 1997 (the re-released DVD states October 1997) and was originally released in 1998 under the title Flashpoint on a dual-sided DVD. Ten years later it was re-edited and re-released as a 4-disc DVD set under the new title Flashpoint X. Because the newer DVD has a better quality image, the screen captures below were taken from that copy of the movie. However, it should be noted that the commentary and "making of" featurette from the original DVD do not appear on the re-release; having been replaced by a new commentary track and a whole bunch of new featurettes and bonus features. A lot of footage from the original "making of" featurette appears in the new "making of" featurette, but not all of it. The original "making of" featurette is of VERY poor quality, as you can see in the screen captures from it.
Comments from director Brad Armstrong, taken from the original 1998 DVD audio commentary. (I have not yet listened to the 2007 DVD audio commentary, so I don't know if it contains any firehouse information.)
Buffy The Vampire Slayer: "Faith, Hope & Trick" (October 13, 1998, Season 3)
The firehouse is used as the demons' hideout. Later, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Faith (Eliza Dushku) escape from the demons by going through an alley and jumping through a window into the firehouse. UH-OH! The demons lured them into their hideout. The "window" is actually fake glass that was placed into the firehouse's back door. The final battle ensues inside the garage bay. (Thanks to Justin Brushett for the find, and Matthew Jordan for providing a copy of the episode.)
National Security (2003)
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CSI: NY: "Taxi" (May 14, 2008) (Season 4)
Episode 20 of the show's fourth season. After chasing the "Taxi Cab Killer" for several episodes, the team eventually tracks him down to an abandoned firehouse located in Washington Heights. The show filmed both the exterior and interior anmd the Los Angeles firehouse. The exterior had extensive CG alteration to make it look like it was in a more built-up area of New York than the low-lying Skid Row in L.A. The interior featured a bit of CG early on modifying the windows in the doors for a brief shot. It also had a bit of set dressing in the form of 'discarded' fire station items. Only the engine bay of the interior was shown, but we got good views of both ends. (Description written by and location usage found by Ben King)
Enrique Iglesias - "Lloro Por Ti" (2008) (Music Video)
This Spanish-language song, whose title translates to "I Cry For You", features Enrique singing at the front of the engine bay, while various sad scenes are mixed throughout. These other scenes, while set in different locations, were all filmed in various parts of the firehouse. The hallway is the "Bedroom Hall" (as Ben King calls it) on the third floor, looking west. The bedroom is the room off of the Captain's Quarters on the third floor. The office is in front of the huge bay window in the Captain's Quarters on the third floor. The kitchen is the kitchen on the third floor. The hospital is the "Staircase Hallway" (as Ben King calls it) on the second floor, looking west. The police car shots look to have been filmed right outside. (Thanks to Ben King for all of the reference materials that were helpful in figuring this out.)
WATCH IT - Original, Remix ft. Wisin & Yandel, Behind The Scenes. (The remix features no new firehouse footage, and the BTS is almost entirely about the Enrique scenes shot in the engine bay - none of the other scenes shot in the firehouse are covered.)
Body Heat (2010)
Surprisingly, a second adult movie was filmed at the firehouse. The movie, which stars Jesse Jane and Raven Alexis (Dana in This Ain't Ghostbusters), revolves around the lives of a crew of firefighters, and features a few sex scenes that take place in the firehouse. I won't provide links where you can buy the 2-disc DVD or 1-disc Blu-ray, but you should be able to find it easily enough if you're interested. Date of Production given on the case is March 28, 2010.
In addition to a select few images below, on the Spook Central Facebook page, you can view the FULL SETS of 1920x1080 stills I pulled from a Blu-ray copy of the film and the Behind the Scenes featurette.
I also uploaded some fun videos to my Paul's Public Page Facebook page: Firehouse 3rd Floor Walkthroughs, Movie & BTS Comparison, Fire Poles Dialog, Explosion, Explosion (No Reactions).
All of these images and videos are clean; no nudity or sex (three BTS images have been cleverly censored) - though the "3rd Floor Walkthrough" video heavily features butts in thong panties and some PG-13 dialog (though kinda muffled).
For a limited time, you can download the entire 1920x1080 photo set (69.7 Mb).
Grey's Anatomy: "Can't Fight Biology" (October 14, 2010, Season 7)
Dr. Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) and Dr. Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) are looking for a place to move into, when a realtor shows them an old, run-down firehouse somewhere in Seattle. The exterior is none other than the Ghostbusters firehouse in Los Angeles, digitally altered to look like Seattle and a lot less like the slums of L.A. The interior is a set that kind of looks like the interior of the real firehouse - if the interior were actually under going renovation and were in a more decrepit state than it currently is in.
BUY IT - Season 7 DVD Set.
Back in 1998 Troy Haslewood sent an e-mail to the Los Angeles Fire Department to gather more information about the firehouse. This is the e-mail he received from them, which he graciously posted on my forum on 10/12/1998.
I appreciate your interest in the Los Angeles City Fire Department.
Old Fire Station 23 is familiar to many, as it has been (and continues to be) used as a site for photographing innumerable print advertisements as well as television and film production.
"Old 23's" as she is affectionately known, was indeed built in the then core of Los Angeles business district in 1910. The Station, which made a transformation from housing horse-drawn fire apparatus to motorized, was de-commissioned in 1960. The half-century she housed Los Angeles City Firefighters were among the most remarkable in our agency's history. During such period, there were many minor modifications made to that structure.
Having left the building nearly 40 years ago, the LAFD no longer directly controls the day-to-day operations of this popular filming site.
The LAFD does however maintain detailed archives of its facilities dating back to 1886. While many of these archives can be searched, it can be a laborious manual process. Time and staff caseload permitting, I am certain that those working in our Building Administration Section can provide answers to some or all of your questions.
When contacting them, please be certain to specify your interest in *former* Fire Station 23 at:
Old Fire Station 23
225 East Fifth Street
Los Angeles, CA
... as in 1963 our Department constructed a *new* Fire Station 23 in our "Pacific Palisades" neighborhood at:
Fire Station 23
17281 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA
I welcome you to write a formal inquiry to the Building Admin Section c/o our Headquarters Office:
Los Angeles Fire Department
Building Administration Section
200 North Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012 USA
Be certain to include your contact information and telephone number(s) in the text of your correspondence so that their staff can clarify your needs as necessary. While I cannot promise a specific response, I can assure you that your inquiry will be handled as briskly as possible by their leanly staffed office.
Please let me know when you will be in Southern California. I would hope at that time to offer you a firsthand opportunity to meet with the men and women of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Kindly accept my best wishes for success at your endeavor.
Public Information Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department
200 North Main Street, #900
Los Angeles, CA 90012 USA
LAFD website: http://www.lafd.org