Guess where I am. Go ahead. Guess.

It’s rare that I have direction when I travel, in any sense of the word. I usually roam around the city, using my blessedly-large nose to seek out and follow the smell of baked goods, often to a happy end.

But during my trip to New York last October, I had, for one of the few times in my life, direction (and one that was not influenced by baked goods).

I needed to make a pilgrimage to Tribeca, and one that was a long time in coming. I had intended to go to 14 North Moore Street for years, but the other callings of New York (Ellis Island, shopping, and cupcakes) kept leading me astray. This time, though, there was nothing else on my schedule. The sun was shining, it was unseasonably warm, and it was, rather fittingly, Halloween Day.

And so it was a perfect occasion to visit the firehouse that served as headquarters for Ray, Peter, Winston, and Egon.

That’s right: I was going to Hook & Ladder 8. The New York fire station used in Ghostbusters.

My love for films of my childhood is no secret here on the blog (every few years I pop down to Astoria, OR, where The Goonies was filmed, just to see if anything has changed. It has not). Ghostbusters ranks high on my list of favorites, and even to this day, quotes from the movie pepper my vernacular.

My default outburst of choice is always, “Mother pus bucket!”. And at least once a week Rand will do something that will cause me to yell, “What did you do, RAY? WHAT DID YOU DO?”

Getting to Hook and Ladder 8 is surprisingly easy – the subway will drop you off just a few steps away. On the corner of N. Moore and Varick, you’ll see it.

I may have squee’d a little when I saw it, because that’s what grown women do when their childhood dreams are realized.

-

The station is still being used, so be careful when you approach it. The firefighters I encountered were incredibly polite, and no strangers to curious tourists, but you’ll still want to get the heck out of the way if they start to pull the truck out of the garage.

I felt some subtle disappointment when I saw that the vehicle which emerged, sirens blazing, was not in fact the Ecto-1.

-

There’s a subtle tribute to the movie, painted on the ground near the station house – a rendition of the Ghostbusters logo that looks very little like the original, but may be just enough to communicate to a savvy passer-by as to what’s going on.

-

Then again, perhaps it’s fitting that it doesn’t look like the movie logo. It’s a reminder that the beloved stories from our childhoods are merely that – stories – and that reality can be far grimer. Proving that point even further is this plaque on the wall of the station, commemorating Lt. Vincent G. Halloran, who died while on duty on September 11th. He left behind five sons and his wife, who was pregnant with a little girl he would never meet.

 

-

It’s funny – all these years I’ve loved a movie about ghosts, and this was the first time I ever associated it with death. I had finally reached a destination that I’d been trying to get to for years, and seeing it left me both fulfilled and saddened.

I suppose sometimes it doesn’t matter how well you plan – your life will get derailed for reasons you can’t anticipate. You plan to visit a place, and you’ll never get there, or you’ll end up somewhere you never imagined you’d be. In that respect, it was nothing short of miraculous that I had gotten to Hook and Ladder 8. Heck, it was nothing short of miraculous that any of us got anywhere.

I took a few more photos, stared a building for a bit longer, then turned and walked into the fading sun. It was autumn in New York, and once again I had no direction, but I knew that somewhere, someone was baking cupcakes.

—————

The Essentials on Hook and Ladder 8:

 

  • Verdict: Visit, if you are in the area (the station is close to the SOHO shopping district and is by no means out of the way). But don’t expect anything particularly grand. If you loved the movie, you’ll get a kick out of seeing it.
  • How to Get There: It’s a short walk from the subway. You can take the 1 or the 2 to Franklin Street, or the A, C, or E to Canal Street. From there, head over to 14 North Moore, and on the corner, you’ll find it.
  • Ideal For: Movie buffs; children of the 80s
  • Insider Tips: Since the station is still in operation, you can’t really tour it, but if you catch an obliging fire fighter on a slow day, they might let you peek inside. Supposedly the Ghostbusters II sign still hangs inside. Be sure to catch a glimpse of the customized insignia on the ground just outside the station.
  • Nearby Food: Magnolia Bakery isn’t far from here, but for those of you who need something more substantial than a cupcake please consider getting out of my sight because I DON’T WAN T TO KNOW YOU walking to SOHO and NOHO, where you’ll find plenty of options.
  • Good for Kids: Little ones who are fans of the movie and old enough to tell the difference between fiction and real-life might get a kick out of this. Otherwise, it will just be confusing (and possibly a little dull).
Full list of categories:  Attractions » City Guide
«
»

Comments (11)

  1. 10. Jan, 2012 / Philip:

    My goal is for all of my vacations to be “confusing and possibly a little dull.” I think it’s important to go in with the right expectations.

    [Reply]

  2. 10. Jan, 2012 / Anwar:

    The ghostbuster logo on the ground is quite cool. I wouldn’t have expected there to be leftovers from the movie so many years later at a working facility.

    [Reply]

  3. 11. Jan, 2012 / Steve:

    Very jealous! I was reading this and all I could think was “You don’t think the sign’s too subtle do you? I wouldn’t want people to drive down and not see the sign!”

    [Reply]

    Everywhereist Reply:

    I do think it’s the sort of place you have to be looking for in order to find it. I suspect I’ve passed it a few times without ever really noticing.

    [Reply]

    Joy Reply:

    Yeah, I’m fairly certain that I did just that. We ate at the Tribeca Grill several years ago and arrived by subway, so I had to have walked by it. Plus, for some strange reason, I always remember the Tribeca Grill being inside an old firestation. So now the dork inside of me is convinced that my subconscious knew that it was the Ghostbuster station and melded the two memories together. The bigger dork inside of me is already planning the trip to NY. Luckily, with Tribeca Grill right around the corner, it won’t be hard to convince my husband to indulge my inner-dork. Ok, who am I kidding…it’s not inner.

    [Reply]

  4. 11. Jan, 2012 / Meg B:

    That line “What did you do Ray?” is used quite a lot within our group of friends as we have a friend Ray and also just when anyone does something that may involve being attacked by a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. (By the way, I thought it was State Puffed Marshmallow man until I was older) Love that you use it. I knew I liked your blog for a reason!

    [Reply]

  5. 11. Jan, 2012 / Dan:

    For a little more ’80s nostalgia, I used to have the toy-version Ghostbusters Firehouse, which combined with my Castle Grayskull and my sisters’ Barbie Dream House formed the city inhabited by my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures.

    [Reply]

    Everywhereist Reply:

    That is the coolest thing I have ever heard.

    [Reply]

  6. 12. Jan, 2012 / Christine S.:

    Have you ever been to the Butler Library at Columbia? Not sure if non-students can do this, but the stacks there, in the upper floors of the library, are EXACTLY as they were in the scene from Ghostbusters when they see the librarian ghost. It’s cool and incredibly spooky at the same time.

    [Reply]

  7. 02. Aug, 2012 / annavictorious:

    My husband worked there for 27 years, including when they filmed both movies. The address is actually 16 N Moore, and the Ghostbusters 2 sign is on the apparatus floor. The insignia painted on the sidewalk is also on the Ladder 8 tee shirt which you can buy at the firehouse (They have children’s and adult sizes). I believe that the proceeds go to the Burn Center. You can also buy patches with the insignia.

    There’s an alley between the firehouse and the Bubble Lounge next store. If the gate is open, walk to the back where there’s a another iron gate. If you peek through, you’ll see a mosaic (of an eyeball!) laid into the ground. I also think that this was the back way that JFK Jr. made use of to sneak into his building if the press was out front. He would sometimes leave his bike in the firehouse…it was still there on the day he died.

    My husband told me that in the early morning of Sept.12, 2001, they were stunned by the sight of the morning sun. It had always been obscured by the Twin Towers. If you look south from the corner of Varick and N Moore, you’ll see the empty sky where the towers stood. It’s a longish walk, but if you head south on Varick, you’ll easily find the memorial site.

    There’s also a great pub (that’s family friendly) directly across the street from the firehouse called Walkers.

    [Reply]

    Muffy Peddersen Reply:

    I’m sad that I didn’t know about the Ladder 8 t shirts when I went there a couple of weeks back. (I travelled from Australia.) Had I known, I would definately bought one, but because I was with a tour group we had time constraints. If I manage to get back to Ladder 8 at any point in the future, I will definately be stopping by to get one.

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply