Top 10 Real Movie Locations That Don't Exist Anymore

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Top 10 Real Movie Locations That Don't Exist Anymore

VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
We regret to inform you that these bucket list movie destinations no longer exist. For this list, we'll be looking at real locations that have been used in popular movies that have since been demolished. Our countdown includes “Vertigo”, “Rocky”, “GoldenEye”, and more!
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Top 10 Real Movie Locations That Don’t Exist Anymore


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Real Movie Locations That Don’t Exist Anymore.

For this list, we’ll be looking at real locations that have been used in popular movies that have since been demolished. Movie sets will not be included.

Which of these do you find the most tragic? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: Pan-Pacific Auditorium

“Xanadu” (1980)
Opened in 1935, the Pan-Pacific Auditorium was long regarded as one of L.A.’s shining architectural landmarks. Notable for its unique Streamline Moderne architecture and green and white exterior, the Pan-Pacific Auditorium has been used in various music videos and movies. Perhaps its most famous appearance is in the cult classic musical fantasy “Xanadu.” The movie opened in 1980 - eight years after the Pan-Pacific Auditorium had closed its doors. As a result, the building was in a considerable state of decay. Finally, on May 24, 1989, the entire building went up in flames and was completely destroyed. It is now the site of the Pan-Pacific Park recreation center off Beverly Blvd.


#9: Sandy's

“Better Off Dead” (1985) & “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” (2001)
Found in North Hollywood was a restaurant called Sandy’s. This building was made up as various fictional fast food joints throughout the years. In 1985, it appeared as Pig Burgers in the John Cusack comedy “Better Off Dead,” and in 2001 it starred as Mooby’s in “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.” The restaurant was found at 6223 Lankershim Boulevard, but it is now closed and abandoned. The Google street view photo taken in January 2021 showed quite a sad sight indeed. A ruined sign, missing letters, and a plain white building that is boarded up and lifeless.


#8: St. Paulus Lutheran Church

“Vertigo” (1958)
While it’s not a major location in the movie, St. Paulus Lutheran Church can be seen at various times throughout the classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller “Vertigo.” Located in the northern section of San Francisco, this church was completed in 1894 and remained open for over a century. 101 years, to be precise. On November 5, 1995, the historic church burned to the ground. Following the fire, the church was forced to relocate. However, there is some good news. In 2019, it was announced that the church was returning to its former site in the form of a new commercial condominium. It’s not an elegant cathedral, but it’s something!


#7: Luna Park

“Speedy” (1928)
Known for being Harold Lloyd’s last theatrical silent film, “Speedy” was released in the spring of 1928. In one of the movie’s signature scenes, Lloyd’s character travels to Coney Island and spends a fun day inside Luna Park. The grand and elegant amusement park had been in operation since 1903, and it provided carnival fun for over 40 years. But, wouldn’t you know, pesky fire strikes again. A good chunk of the amusement park was destroyed in a blaze on August 13, 1944, and it never reopened. A new Luna Park eventually opened across Surf Ave., just to the south of its original location. That is now home to multiple high rises.

#6: J&M Tropical Fish

“Rocky” (1976)
Everyone remembers the adorable little pet shop from the first “Rocky.” Rocky flirts with Adrian while she’s working, asks her out on a date, and even casually shoplifts some turtle food. This was a real pet shop located at 2146 N. Front Street in Philadelphia. Surprisingly, the shop remained open until 2006, when it was eventually forced to shutter its doors and board up its windows. The closed and abandoned shop is actually featured in “Rocky Balboa,” as Rocky visits it during a nostalgic jaunt through the old neighborhood. The site was demolished in 2017 and is now nothing but a gap between two buildings.


#5: Schwab's Pharmacy

“Sunset Boulevard” (1950)
It’s only natural that one of Sunset Boulevard’s greatest haunts appears in “Sunset Boulevard.” Founded in 1932, Schwab's Pharmacy was a very popular hangout for those in the movie industry. Famous gossip columnist Sidney Skolsky worked out of the pharmacy, and he would be the first journalist to use the nickname “Oscar” for the Academy Award. He did so in print on March 16, 1934. The exterior of the pharmacy appeared in Billy Wilder’s classic noir, although the interior was recreated at Paramount Studios. The iconic Hollywood landmark finally closed in 1983 and was demolished five years later. The corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights is now a shopping complex.


#4: Arecibo Telescope

“GoldenEye” (1995)
Found in the jungles of Puerto Rico was one of the world’s most famous telescopes. Known as the Arecibo Telescope, it famously appeared in the climax of the classic James Bond film “GoldenEye.” The satellite opened just one year after the first James Bond movie, in 1963, and remained under the management of Cornell University throughout most of its life. Unfortunately, various natural disasters threatened the integrity of the telescope, and it was officially decommissioned in 2020. On December 1 of that year, the structure collapsed into itself and was completely destroyed. Extensive efforts were then undertaken to dismantle what remained of the historic telescope.


#3: The Cab Depot

“Taxi Driver” (1976)
This Martin Scorsese classic opens with Travis Bickle applying for a job at a cab depot. The office isn’t seen much throughout the film, but it was indeed a real dispatch depot located in Manhattan. But it’s amazing how much can change throughout the decades. This cab depot was located on West 57th Street near the West Side Highway, but the area is virtually unrecognizable today. When Travis leaves the depot, viewers can spot a brick building and the old Elevated Highway in the background. Not only are they gone, but the surrounding area has been completely redeveloped and modernized. ‘70s New York really was dingy…


#2: The Sands Hotel & Casino

“Ocean's 11” (1960)
The Sands is synonymous with the Las Vegas Strip. At least, it was. The Sands was the place to be back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, hosting legendary performers like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. The Rat Pack helped make the Sands iconic, and they shot “Ocean’s 11” at the hotel. Seven years after the movie’s release, the Sands was bought by famous business magnate Howard Hughes. However, all great things must pass, and time eventually came for the Sands. The old-fashioned casino couldn’t compete with the shinier and fancier operations, and it was demolished on November 26, 1996. The site is now home to The Venetian.

#1: The Ambassador Hotel

Various
Los Angeles is home to many hotels, but none were quite like the Ambassador. The Ambassador was a lavish and world-renowned hotel that hosted countless iconic entertainers, housed various presidents, and contained the famous Cocoanut Grove nightclub. It is also featured in countless movies, including “Forrest Gump,” “Catch Me If You Can,” and “Almost Famous.” Unfortunately, the surrounding area fell into poverty throughout the ‘70s, and the Ambassador was slowly forgotten. It was later demolished to make room for the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, which are named after the politician who was famously shot in the hotel’s kitchen.
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