As I sit here writing this, I figure I'll throw it on one more time for inspiration. Ghostbusters, that is; the sci-comedy classic I’ve seen countless times since it, and I, came into the world in 1984. In fact, the movie was released the weekend after I was born and, as I like to imagine it, that means it somehow imprinted on me in those first days of our shared new existence.
I can’t recall when I first saw Ghostbusters, but whenever it was, the visuals and experience of the movie burned deep into my consciousness. You can’t be a young, impressionable, ghostbusting enthusiast watching both Ghostbusters and its 1989 sequel, rewound and re-watched on VHS time and time again, without the city of New York also settling into
a special place in your psyche. From the opening shot of the New York Public Library to the Statue of Liberty walking the streets, the Big Apple loomed large in the world of the Ghostbusters.
To me, eating Kraft Dinner and wearing Ghostbusters pyjamas in the playroom from my home in rural Quebec, New York City was mind-blowing. And despite all the great shots of Central Park, gargoyles, the iconic taxi cabs, Fifth Avenue, Columbia University and Tavern on the Green, one location stood out in my mind: the rehouse. The Ghostbusters’ headquarters. What with its firepole and iconic Ghostbusters logo sign out front.
AS I SIT HERE SIPPING TEA from my Ghostbusters mug, I’m remembering the Christmas my parents bought my brother and I the toy version of the Ghostbusters’ firehouse. To this day, it remains one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. I mean, you could make your action figures slide down the pole and pour slime through the roof. It even had the containment unit! Incredible stuff. Countless hours were spent playing with the thing for years.
SO WHEN I FINALLY found myself in New York City in 2016, I knew I had to try and get to the real deal. I was in town for work and my schedule was going to be packed, but I figured I’d find a moment to steal away and see the 1903 Beaux-Arts style building that houses Hook & Ladder Company 8 for myself.
Time was tight. I got up early on the day I was flying out, set to make my pilgrimage. I grabbed a cab from Manhattan out to 14 North Moore Street in Tribeca. Ray Parker Jr.'s theme song played in my head the whole way. The ride cost me about $30 USD, but I didn’t care. It would all be worth it to see Ray, Peter, Egon and Winston’s headquarters with my own two eyes. And I did. I saw the place. But I saw the place covered top-to-bottom in scaffolding.
It turned out the building was badly in need of work and was undergoing a $6-million renovation. With nothing to see, it was another $60 USD through traffic to the airport. I was disappointed, but confident I’d be back.
TWO YEARS LATER, I was, this time readier for the important mission. I even brought along a Ghostbusters T-shirt to wear. My hotel wasn’t close to Hook & Ladder 8, but I love exploring cities on foot, so the estimated hour and 45 minutes it was going to take me to walk there seemed like a nice stroll through one of the world’s greatest cities.
To quote Peter Venkman, "I loved my plan and was excited to be a part of it.”
It soon became apparent it wasn’t a great plan. Once again, I was there for work, so all I’d brought with me were dress shoes. I’d not considered footwear.
The blisters started about 30 minutes away from the firehouse. They puffed up and popped quickly. No matter. If the Ghostbusters could lug their proton packs up 22 storeys to blast Zuul and save the day, I could suffer through the pain to get a glimpse of my pop culture pagoda.
And, dear reader, I made it. My feet were aching. The blood was squishing in my socks. But I made it. There it was in front of me: The Ghostbusters’ Firehouse Headquarters. Covered top-to-bottom in scaffolding. Two years later and the renovations weren’t yet finished. Time for another pricey cab ride away from the place, having seen nothing at all.
Who you gonna call?
My suggestion would be the iconic venue you plan on visiting to, you know, make sure you can actually see it before going halfway across the city, twice. Or at least check online. I know I will next time I try my luck at seeing Hook & Ladder 8. And there will be a next time.