July 3, 2013

Slap Shot (Then and Now)

When you say "Johnstown Pa", the average person will probably either say that they know the city because of our floods, or because of the movie Slap Shot. Judging by the title of this blog post, you've probably guessed we're not going to be talking about our floods, we'll save that for anther time.

Today is all about the movie Slap Shot. More importantly, taking a look back at the city of Johnstown which played the role of Charlestown in the movie. Fan's of the film know what the city looked like back in 1977, but many probably don't know what Johnstown looks like now. Maybe you live in Johnstown and would like to know where some of the filming locations were. Well this is the post for you.

Then and Now.

We're going to look back at several scenes in the cult classic and show you what they look like today.

But first...

Warning:

1. We will not be covering anything from inside the Cambria County War Memorial Arena. We might do a part two during the season and cover what the arena looked like back then and what it looks like now. You'll have to wait and see.

2. Sorry, no nude scenes. We're not going to do a Then and Now of actress Melinda Dillion who played Suzanne Hanrahan, because this is a blog is for families, and the "Now" would have to be an artist's rendering, and I'm not that good of an artists. We will cover the "Mooning" scene, but won't show any of the film stills from that scene. If you need to see that stuff, we'll give you a moment right now to Google it.

Go ahead, we'll wait.


Okay, back to the blog.

3. If there's something we missed that you'd like information on, leave us a comment, we'll do our best to answer it for you.

4. If you enjoy history, like we do, you'll enjoy this post. If you enjoy Johnstown history, you'll really enjoy this post. But we will warn you, you might get a little depressed like we did while writing this. Why did we get depressed? Seeing how the city was and the way it is now can make you sad.

Johnstown used to be a happening place. It could be again, but we'll save that for a rainy day, which around here, could be any moment.

5. The movie also had scenes filmed in Hamilton, Syracuse, Utica New York, and Pittsburgh Pa. We're only focusing on Johnstown Pa, which goes without saying, but we said it anyways.

Let's get started. By the way all pictures and graphics were done myself, unless stated other wise.

Enjoy!

To refresh you memory: Slap Shot (1977) A failing ice hockey team finds success using constant fighting and violence during games.  (from IMDB.com)

Hyannisport

The town of Hyannisport is shown briefly in the film. In case you're not sure when, it's when the Chiefs' bus, and the fan's bus, drives through the town, mooning Hyannisport's fans.

In real life, Ligonier Pa played the role of Hyannisport. Ligonier is roughly 22 miles, southwest, from the city of Johnstown.


The above image shows the location where the scene was shot, in downtown Ligonier. On the top right of the roundabout, you'll see a large building with white pillars in the front. That's the one building that can be clearly seen in the film. You can click on this picture or any other picture you see in this post to enlarge them. (left clicks only)

The number "one" in the yellow circle is the city of Johnstown and of course the "two" in the yellow circle is Ligonier.

Johnstown Train Station

The first time we see the Hanson brothers are when they are assaulting a coke machine because "The darn thing took my quarter." Johnstown's train station is located in downtown Johnstown.
Above pictures: Top left shows the outside of the Johnstown Train Station as it looks today. Top right
show two things, (1) The yellow line connects the Cambria County War Memorial Arena (bottom of picture) to the Johnstown Train station (top of picture). (2) The blue line shows exactly where the train station is and then leads to the bigger picture. The bottom picture shows inside the station in Slap Shot.

I've been alive for 26 years and lived in Johnstown for 24. In all those years I had never been inside the train station. So, to write this post, I decided to go down and get some picture of what the inside looks like today. It looked almost completely the same, which was great. The bad part? All the doors are sealed shut, and the one wall is glassed up, meaning there's no way inside to the main area.

The train station still operates today, with only one train a day coming and leaving the city of Johnstown, so they have you come into the building via a side entrance. On top of that, they now use the closed off section as a makeshift storage area. The building is beautiful and a part of Johnstown's history, it deserves to be more than a storage area, but at least for now, that's all it is.


This picture was taken through that glass wall they put up. In the movie, Newman walks through the doors to the right of this picture, which means the camera would have been to the left out of frame. I was amazed that the giant wood benches were still there. Below is another picture that was taken from the window in the door, the same door that Reg (Paul Newman) would have walked through.


On my personal blog, I plan to write more about the train station and when I do I'll make sure to place a link here. The station was restored in 1996, and inside this main room, in still appears to be in good condition. The same can't be said for the rest of the building.

Other than the train station, there were two main filming locations in Johnstown. Downtown Johnstown and in Franklin Borough, only a few miles away. The image below shows the two sections of Johnstown. The blue circle shows downtown Johnstown, and the red shows Franklin Borough.

 

 
We'll leave the downtown area of Johnstown for right now and head over to Franklin to take an in depth look at the scenes that were shot there, and what it looks like today, 2013.

We've made a map that takes a screen shot of the scenes we'll take a look at and drew a line from them to the spot on the map they took place at. As you can see they're all only blocks away from each other, but with movie magic, we're made to think differently. If you go back and watch the film, while looking at this map we've provided, you'll have a little laugh.




1. The Mill

In this scene, Reg and Braden walk down the side walk talking "10,000 steal workers placed on waivers." This is right before Braden waves to a girl that beeps at him while driving by. We'll take a look at that scene next. First, this is a screen capture from the film right as this scene starts.


The streets are packed and the huge factory is in full force. We only get to see a fraction of how big these mills were. If you go to this location today and see the site, it's breath taking on how big the area is. This isn't just the way it looked like for the film, during Johnstown's heyday, this was your average day. So what does it look like today?


Yep, other than the cement wall, and part of the steal fence, it's all gone. In fact, the whole site, except for two or three buildings, has been leveled. In case you were wondering, there are no plans to build anything where these mills once stood.

2. Van Pulls Up

This scene continues from the last we showed. This is right after Braden waves to a passing car. When Reg asks him who that was, Braden says it's slipped his mind. Enter Braden's wife, Lily, speeding down the road, and slamming on the breaks in her big blue van.


Since this is basically the same scene as the one before, only shot from a different angle, you can pretty much guess what it looks like today.



A little more remains in this picture than the last. More of the steal fencing is still in place, and a couple of the power lines inside still stands. On our Facebook page, we did a simple photoshop. We inserted Reg and Braden into the 2013 picture. This is what it would look like for those of you that aren't friends with us yet.



3. Hill Jumping

After picking up Braden and Reg, Lily speeds around launching her van into the air. This is the time you want to watch carefully. If you look at our map and watch were she drives, she's basically driving in circles.

We captured two moments  as the van is speeding down the residential streets. The first is when the van almost tips over when it's making a high speed turn. The other is when the van launches into the air.



Just as a quick piece of trivia. The van is coming from a dead end street and if the van would continue straight instead of turning, it would be back at the mill. Oh movie magic.

Now what it looks like today.


Pretty much the same really. Except the building on the corner in this picture is now old and boarded up.

And here's the van jumping.


This is another picture where the Then and Now is very different.


One of the biggest difference you'll notice here is that the bridge is gone, from the picture that is. Last year, maybe it's been two years now, that bridge was moved over, to the right of this picture. The street doesn't look that steep in this picture but trust me, it is. If you drive down to the end of this street and then make a left you'll be at the mill, or at least were it used to be.

Let's say it together this time, "Good old movie magic."

4. Turn Around and Drive Off

These are two quick scenes in the movie, but we thought we'd include them just because they were filmed in Johnstown. Here the first, from the film.


One again in the background of this picture is the main mill site used in the film. In the upper right corner on this picture is the big brick building seen in the first picture we did a before and after of.

Here's what it looks like today, minus the car.


As we've said before, almost all of it is gone now.

Right after this shot, Reg drives away up the street. To refresh your memory this is what we're talking about.


This is one of the few shots in the movie where it's basically the same today.


It's over grown now. There's a nice tree growing where a steal structure once stood.

5. Reg's House

Even though in the film Lily drives all around the city taking Reg home, he only lives about two blocks away from where she picks him and her husband up by the mill. Surprisingly the house, at least the outside portion, is still standing, though it has been updated. I'm not sure if the interior shots of the house were also film at this location or if they were filmed else where. In the film, the shot is a little dark but I think you'll be able to see all the important details.



Reg stands in the middle of the street after being dropped off by Lily. His house is on the left, closest to us. In the background we can see another view of the mills, in full operation.

And this is the site today.



As you can see there's really no difference other than, no more mill, but we've been through that before. Another little piece of trivia, this street is a dead end street. which means, I have no idea where the van was going when it dropped Reg off.

Oh yeah, MOVIE MAGIC.

Well that does it for Then and Now in Franklin, but we're far from done with this post overall. We still have all of downtown to still cover.

Intermission: Right now would be a great time to grab yourself a drink, go to the bathroom, make some popcorn.

Okay. Ready to continue? Let's go. Oh by the way, that popcorn you made smells good.

Downtown Johnstown


People who love history will probably enjoy this part even more just because at one time downtown looked a lot different then it does now. A lot of the scenes off the ice happened around town and we'll be taking a look at most of them, even if it's just briefly.

1. The State Store

Lily Braden was a drunk and was miserable living in Charlestown. In one scene filmed downtown, she's shown leaving the State Store, which of course is a liquor store. She walks across the street taking a drink from the bottle, which is wrapped up in a brown paper bag.


 If you follow us on Facebook then you'll know what this looks like nowadays. Incase you didn't see that teaser we put on our page, or you're not friends with us (yet, we'd love to be friends) here's what it looks like in 2013.


 The building itself hasn't really changed that much. It's still got the same front window layout, and brick work, except it's now an Alpha Printing store, and not a liquor store. The two buildings that stand beside it, though are different then they were in 1976 (that's when Slap Shot filmed, then came to theaters in 1977).

 



The building to the right is now a bank, while the building on the left is currently vacant. There is some history here that goes further back than Slap Shot. The building used in the film is one of three historic buildings in a row that survived the most well known Johnstown flood, the flood of 1889.




2. Corner of Main

Staying on the same street we get this view of the Johnstown. This is main street we see and is the street were the parade takes place at the end of the movie. As you'll clearly see, this is another before and after picture that's seen some major changes. First 1977 or 1976 if you want to get technical.


Some times I wish downtown Johnstown still looked this way, or I wish I could travel back in time to experience it myself. Today, the Rite Aid building is gone (well there's still a Rite Aid there, you'll see), and the Revco building is still there, but it's seen better days.


The Revco building is named the Dibert Building. Here is the Dilbert from across the street.

 
3. King Drugs
 
This is where the team hangs out a few times in the film. After their huge pre-game fight, this is where Morris Wanchuk describes the injury to his noise as having a  "deep cut". If my description is not working for you, and you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's the picture.
 
 
This is located right across the street to central park. This building doesn't look anything like it does today, but it still has a hockey connection, as the business that now operates out of the building sponsors the Johnstown Tomahawks.
 
 
 
4. Central Park
 
Johnstown Central Park is only one city block big, but in Charlestown it's big enough for three rapes and two murders. One of the things that has changed from the film to today is the statue of the dog. The dog that saved Charlestown from the flood is no longer there, it's been moved a block up the street, across from City Hall.
 
 
To show you that I'm not lying to you the reader, here's the dog today, and the plaque the city has with it.
 
 
 
Today with the dog moved, central park now has a nice water feature in the center of the park. In the background you can see a few places we've taken a look at during this blog post.
 
Next to the fountain is the park bench where Lily Braden and Reg talk for a while, and Reg tries to get her back to his place.
 
 
Yes it's just a bench but I think it's cool to think at one time somebody like Paul Newman sat in this very spot, sure not the same bench but the same "area".
 
 
I have a confession to make. The exact bench might be the one in the background, now that I think about it. Like I said though, it's the same "area".
 
5. Crossing the Street/ Glosser's Department Store
 
We combined these two together because, well, they go together. This is right before, Francine tells Reg she's leaving town.
 
 
 
For those not from Johnstown Pa, the Glosser's building is to the left of this picture. Here's a better angle of it from the film. This is when Reg is driving his car.
 
 
Today, Glosser's is gone. Now a small restaurant operates on the first floor. Also in the building is a Dollar General.
 
 
Glosser's
 
 
6. Champions Parade
 
At the end of the film the Charlestown Chiefs hold a parade for wining the championship. In the real world, this was a real parade that the film crew filmed to their favor. Also a little bit of trivia. The year that Slap Shot was released (1977), the city of Johnstown suffered yet another flood, causing the real hockey team, the Johnstown Jets to sit the season out after the area suffered some damage from the flood waters.
 
Back to the parade.
 
 
This is an aerial picture of central park and the area around it. The orange line is the route (that you see in the movie) of the parade, going from left to right. The Red line, is the route that Reg's wife, drives as she leaves town. Why did we include this? Cause there's some super fan  out there who will geek over this. If we didn't write this we would probably have been one of those people.
 
Here are two shots during the parade from the movie.
 
 
If you're not too sure what you see here, or know where you're at, let us help you. Where the trees are, that's central park. If the picture captured just a little more on the right you'd see the Rite Aid building. The car that's in the middle of the frame driving away is Francine, driving off to her new life.
 
 
The band in the picture is Johnstown High School's marching band. To let you know where this picture is, to the right is central park. If we followed the band guess where we'd wind up? Did you say the Rite Aid? If you did you'd be correct.
 
Not seen in this picture but is seen briefly in the film, is a shot of a Johnstown theater that was located downtown that had "Deep Throat" on the marquee. That theater is not longer around, but this is what that building looks like today.
 
 
 
The Park Building, which is the brown brick building in the film that houses the Hello Shop, is still in use today. It's not the Hello Shop anymore though, now it houses the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, and offices on the higher floors. Here's what it looks like today.
 
 
 
Well, we've reached the end of this blog post. We hope you enjoyed it and maybe even learned something. Let us know if you enjoyed the blog by making a comment below or tell us on our Facebook and/or Twitter page.
 
If you really enjoyed it, let us know, and we'll do the second part about the War Memorial Arena (Then and Now) sooner than later.
 
For those people who've never seen the arena before, other than in the film, here's the outside today. The home of the Charlestown Chiefs and now the home of the Johnstown Tomahawks of the NAHL.
 

 
 
 

24 comments:

Eric Knopsnyder said...

Nice post, Jon. Very cool to see the then-and-now shots.
What about the bars? I've always wondered what bars they used in the movie. I always think of the one as the Old Toll Gate, but I don't think that it actually is. I know they mention the Aces in it. Was it actually filmed there?
I'd love to see an update on that.

Jon Kohan said...

The bars I'm not to sure, and didn't want to post wrong information. I'm pretty sure the inside of the bar where Reg dances with his wife is Aces, but I don't believe the outside shot was.

Anonymous said...

Good job brother. Coming from a area native and growing up watching the chiefs, my dad being a huge hockey fan, and waiting until i was in my later teens to finally sit down drink a beer and watch slap shot with me was a priceless moment in time. Well played sir, well played.

Jon Kohan said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for stopping by and taking some time to read the post. That's great that you and your father could enjoy the movie together. I'm sure it's something you'll remember forever.

Anonymous said...

The bar where Reg danced with his wife was the old Hendler Hotel that stood on Washington Street where the Social Security Administration Building now stands. The hotel rooms there were used in the scene where Reg drops off the Hansons after they first arrive in town. The bar where the players were watching a daytime soap opera was located in Franklin Borough. It was violently destroyed during the night of the 1977 flood. I'm not positive but I believe that two people were killed there the night of the flood. A small playground and a memorial honoring the Franklin Borough victims of the 1977 flood now stands where the bar was located.

Anonymous said...

This is a great blog. Thanks for taking the time to do this. Please continue with the War Memorial feature. I live here now, but grew up in Boston. I know the film well and continue to learn the history of Johnstown, and it's great hockey tradition.

Jon Kohan said...

Thank you for taking the time to check out the blog and for the kind words.

Anonymous said...

This is amazing.....love it, thank you so much!,,,

Jon Kohan said...

Thank you very much. Hope to do a part 2 soon.

IndianaJohn said...

Terrific job. Thanks for taking all of us on a tour of a movie that, no doubt, resonates in the minds and lives of every man. I was lucky enough to see it when it was first released though I will admit I shouldn't have since I was only 12. But my dad was cool about it. Your hard work is much appreciated. Thanks!!!!

J.R. said...

A great job! As a fan of the movie, these types of retrospectives are always nice! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

John, Amazing retrospective. I love this movie and have always been interested in the history. Looking forward to a part 2. - Brian from Saco, ME.

Mike Keating said...

GREAT ! Thank You for all the time you spent making this for us.
I only have one request.... More!
I think I'll be making another trip to Jtown this summer to take this tour and to stop by Scott's for a taco.

Jon Kohan said...

I don't have an exact date yet but I am currently working on Slap Shot Then and Now part two. It'll have it's own post, but I'll also have a link on this page to the second part. Glad you enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

Great job...

Sherman Warner said...

What memories seeing these photos!
I was an extra and still carry my $42 paystub for 2 days work. My wife was a native and I was from New Haven,CT and a Blades fan but I became a Jets fan. I now live in New Mexico. I sold a load of memorabilia years ago like guest passes for filming that sold for $20 each! I then donated some stuff to Ken Blake who runs a Slap Shot website. I was in the scene where Brophy pees himself, banging on the glass right behind him and also in the parade. For trivia buffs,the first day of filming was
March 18, 1976 when Lindsay and Paul are by the dog in the park. The Brophy peeing scene was filmed March 23 and the parade was filmed May 16. Believe it or not, they couldn't fill the arena in the first days of shooting. They would move us around to give the appearance of being full. Once word got out, it was filled but they didn't have enough to pay people, they gave away prizes. I wonder if I'm one of the few to still have his paystub? A special edition paper was printed in 1977 and about 20 years ago the Hansons were making an appearance in CT. I gave my daughter the paper to show them. They had never seen it before. I have photos of that and the parade and the guest pass which I'll post someday. Thanks for keeping the memories alive. My name is Sherman Warner. Some of you may remember disc jockey Herb Ruth from WCRO. I did an oldies show with him from 1973-1976. Sorry to be so long but I forgot how much I missed the area as I moved after the big flood. I was working at Glosser Brothers that night and got home just before the waters hit town. If anyone is interested in contacting me I'm at sw349@aol.com God bless!!

Len said...

Grew up in Johnstown. Lived there when they were shooting Slapshot. I know where most of the scenes were shot. Not to sure about the bar scenes in Franklin but did hear about one of the bars being wiped out in the flood. Always wondered where Ned Braden's house was and Anita McCambridge's house was. Any info on that would be cool. The Ace's and the Palm Isle were only mentioned in the movie but not actually seen in it. Been in both a few times. This is a great blog. I just found it by accident. I will check back from time to time.

Jon Kohan said...

Thank you for the kind words. At some point I'll be making a second part to this post, just haven't got to it yet.

Tell your friends.

d.mm. said...

This is amazing. Thanks for your efforts.

Rick Fox said...

How many of us in recent years have asked ourselves: "At what location was that scene filmed at?" Brother, thanks for taking the time to reseach that very answer....... Thank You!

Jon Kohan said...

Rick, thank you very much for you kinds words. Means a lot.

Jon

Brennan Mihalick said...

Even though I read this when you first posted it, I took another run through it when you posted the link on facebook today. It's still a great read.

I look forward to part two. Will you be covering anything inside the arena?

As far as I know, the actual organ from the movie is still in its original balcony ("Don't ever play Lady of Spain again!!"). It would be great if the arena would let you climb up to get a picture of that, as well as pop into the locker rooms for a quick shot when they aren't in use.

Keep up the good work. I always enjoy reading your blog.

Jon Kohan said...

Brennan,

Thanks for the kind words. Part 2 will be mostly (if not all) Arena stuff and I'm gonna try and get everything I possibly can.

Jon

Anonymous said...

My husband and I just watched this movie & had a disagreement about where the parade scene was filmed, so I googled it & found this blog. He said it was Syracuse & I said Johnstown. Upon reading this I realized that, I have sat on the fountain in Central Park, attended hockey games in the Cambria County & Syracuse War Memorials and been in the drug store all the while not realizing that these locations where in Slapshot... lol... Thanks for the before and after pictures & the trip down memory lane!