Hook and Ladder 8, the building used for the exterior shots of the Ghostbusters’ headquarters, is a working firehouse that has been around for more than a century.
The firehouse even pre-dates the Fire Department of New York. When Hook and Ladder 8 was established, the firefighting forces of New York consisted of loosely affiliated companies of volunteering men.
In 1866, just one year after these disparate fire brigades were incorporated under the umbrella of the Metropolitan Fire Department, the Hook and Ladder 8 company moved its operations to the current spot on North Moore Street in Tribeca. At the time, an older school building occupied the site.
It was not until the 1898 unification of the five New York City boroughs that the Fire Department of New York as it exists today was born. With the development of this larger, more centralized force, Hook and Ladder 8 received a brand new firehouse in 1903, although it looked much different than it does today.
The new building, designed by the Superintendent of Buildings at the time, Alexander H. Stevens, was one of the first firehouses of its kind. Prior to Stevens’ tenure as the Superintendent, the design and construction of New York’s firehouses was outsourced to the architectural firm of Napoleon LeBrun & Sons. But when Stevens came in, he took over the creation of new fire buildings. His signature style was Beaux-Arts, a classically tinged school of design that would inform a number of New York buildings—most famously, Grand Central Station.
Stevens’ archetypal firehouse design had tall banks of windows on each floor and a central, arched portal on the ground floor that provided vehicle access. Hook and Ladder 8’s new building was one of the first buildings to show off the design, embellished with a decorative cornice above the truck entrance. When it was built, it was twice the size it is today, with two vehicle doors. The firehouse was cut down to its current dimensions in 1913, when Varick Street underwent an expansion that forced the building to downsize.
For decades, the firehouse and its men protected the city as one of many reliable FDNY fire stations. In an early version of the script, the story took place in a future world where the Ghostbusters were a municipal force like the police or, well, firefighters. In accordance with that, a firehouse was chosen for their base of operations, and Hook and Ladder 8 became forever known as Ghostbusters HQ. The logo sign used in the movie and its sequel still hangs in the station to this day.
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