History of Ghostbusters role in New York’s Hook & Ladder Company 8

Photo: By Rob Young from United Kingdom (Ghostbusters Headquarters (Hook & Ladder 8)) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

If you stand at the corner of North Moore Street and Varick Street in the Manhattan neighborhood of Tribeca, you’ll see the firehouse for Hook & Ladder Company 8 — and you’ll likely recognize it, because the exterior of the building was the base of the Ghostbusters in the film starring Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. Now, of course, this building also appears in video games honoring the movie, and LEGO has even come out with its own commemorative building set.

The history of this New York edifice, though, goes back much further than the making of this comedy classic. The actual building has been in service for over 100 years and is even older than the Fire Department of New York. The Metropolitan Fire Department established Hook and Ladder 8 on the same spot where the building is today. There was a schoolhouse on the site at the time, but the arrival of the fire department led to some modifications.

In 1903, the building was razed and replaced with a (for 1903) brand new firehouse. The edifice was built in the Beaux-Arts style, with tall rows of windows on each story, as well as an arched doorway on the ground floor that permitted the truck to get in and out. In 1903, it was twice as wide as it is today, with two doors, but Varick Street was widened in 1913, and so half the firehouse had to give way.

For the majority of the twentieth century, the firehouse was just one of many of its kind in New York City, until the idea of the Ghostbusters came along. The script initially saw the city taking place in the future, and the Ghostbusters were a sort of police force in the future. They chose a firehouse to serve as their home base, and Hook and Ladder 8 fit the bill.

Hook & Ladder Company 8

Photo: By Phillip Ritz; cropped by Beyond My Ken (talk) 00:35, 14 December 2015 (UTC) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Of course, the script eventually changed, and the film was set in the present day. Hook and Ladder 8 was disguised to look like an abandoned firehouse, and the Ghostbusters moved in — and history was made. If you go by Hook and Ladder 8 today, you’ll see the logo sign that hung from the exterior in the film, as well as the one used in the sequel, both hanging inside.

You’ll see the firehouse in some other film and television settings too. It appears in an episode of the iconic sitcom Seinfeld, as well as in the movie Hitch. Obviously, it figures in both Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II, and when the all-female remake of Ghostbusters came out in 2016, the women do tour the building but blanch at the $21,000 monthly rent. At the end, though, they receive the building as a token of the city’s esteem, and it returns to its central place in the lore of the Ghostbusters saga.

The fire fighters in Hook and Ladder 8 are also important figures in history. They were some of the first responders in the attacks on September 11, 2001. Ten years later, in 2011, the city was looking to shutter 20 fire companies in a cost-saving endeavor, and Hook and Ladder 8 was on the list. However, actor Steve Buscemi and Bill de Blasio (who would later serve as mayor) launched a public campaign to save the structure, and it is still in place. Indeed, it is now int he latter phases of a $6 million renovation, so it should be in service for many years to come.

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