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Saturday October 20th 2018

(500) Days of Summer | 2009

(500) Days of Summer filming location: the Canadian Building, Main Street, downtown Los Angeles
(500) Days of Summer location: Tom’s apartment: the Canadian Building, 432 South Main Street, downtown Los Angeles

Marc Webb’s endearingly quirky non-romance is filmed largely around the untouristy downtown district of Los Angeles – not the familiar screen LA of Hollywood bungalows or South Central 'hoods. Yet ironically, this unfamiliar look at the city uses some very familiar locations. It’s rather like watching a slew of dependable character actors suddenly elevated to starring roles.

For instance, the stretch of Main Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets is a frequent backdrop to action sequences – though it’s often passed off as ‘New York’.

It’s here you can find the apartment of sadly lovestruck Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), in the Canadian Building, 432 South Main Street at Winston Street. You might recognise the block as the site of ‘Joppy’s bar’, where Easy Rawlins (Denzel Washington) hangsout in Carl Franklin’s excellent 1995 neo noir Devil In A Blue Dress.

(500) Days of Summer filming location: Farmers and Merchants Building, Main Street, downtown Los Angeles
(500) Days of Summer location: renting Sweet and Shower: Farmers and Merchants Building, Main Street, downtown Los Angeles

Right across Main Street, the store where Summer reveals her fondness for Ringo Starr, and the couple rents Sweet and Shower from the ‘adult section’, is the Farmers and Merchants Bank Building, Main and Fourth Streets.

(500) Days of Summer filming location: Barclay Hotel, downtown Los Angeles
(500) Days of Summer location: Tom and the guys hang out in the ‘coffee bar’: Barclay Hotel, Fourth and Main Street, downtown Los Angeles

On the opposite corner, the lobby of the Barclay Hotel,103 West Fourth Street, was transformed into the coffee bar in which Tom and his mates hang out. You’ve probably seen the Barclay dozens of times without noticing – remember the ‘New York’ meteor shower at the beginning of Armageddon? the monster stomping past it in Godzilla? Or the ‘Manhattan’ cafe where Jack Nicholson annoys Helen Hunt in As Good As It Gets?

(500) Days of Summer filming location: the Barclay, Normandie Avenue, Koretown
(500) Days of Summer location: Summer’s apartment building: the Barclay, Normandie Avenue, Koreatown, Los Angeles

Just to confuse things, the apartment of Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel) is also a Barclay, although in Koreatown, midtown Los Angeles. It’s the Barclay, 706 South Normandie at West 7th Street, just south of Wilshire Boulevard.

Alongside Main Street runs Spring Street. The ‘New Hampshire Greeting Card Company’, where Tom writes profound verses for a living, is the Fenton Building, 833 South Spring Street, between Eighth and Ninth Streets – which, in the interests of economy was also used for the interior of Tom’s apartment. In the Thirties, the building housed a ‘taxi dance’ hall (“Ten cents a dance”) called the Roseland Roof.

The karaoke bar in which Summer sings Sugartown is the Redwood Bar & Grill, 316 West Second Street, west of South Broadway, downtown. Once a watering hole for local journalists – as well as John F. Kennedy and a young Richard Nixon, the venue has recently expanded into a proper restaurant. The Redwood serves as a ‘Milwaukee’ bar in Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids.

(500) Days of Summer filming location: Arthur J Will Memorial Fountain, Civic Center Mall, downtown Los Angeles
(500) Days of Summer location: the fountain springs to life: Arthur J Will Memorial Fountain, Civic Center Mall, downtown Los Angeles | Photograph: Wikimedia / Al Pavangkanan

The day after Tom and Summer spend the night together sees Tom leading a rapturous dance routine in LA’s spanking new Civic Center Mall, running between Hill Street and Grand Street, linking Bunker Hill to the Civic Center. Bursting into life is the Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain.

(500) Days of Summer filming location: the Fine Arts Building, West Seventh Street, downtown Los Angeles
(500) Days of Summer location: Tom shows off the downtown architecture: the Fine Arts Building, West Seventh Street, downtown Los Angeles

In downtown Los Angeles, Tom wisely advises Summer to “look up”. Above the bustle of markets and discount stores, the historic heart of the old city stands some glorious, if often decayed, architecture from its heyday in the Twenties.

Among his favourite buildings, Tom points out the 1925 Fine Arts Building, 811 West Seventh Street at Wilshire Boulevard. Remember this place as the ‘Swiss Embassy’ in the 1997 fantasy Spawn, with Michael Jai White and John Leguizamo? No? Well it was. Trust me.

(500) Days of Summer filming location: the Eastern Columbia Building, South Broadway, downtown Los Angeles
(500) Days of Summer location: Tom shows off the downtown architecture: the Eastern Columbia Building, South Broadway, downtown Los Angeles

Also the green and gold Moderne tower of the Eastern Columbia Building, 849 South Broadway (on top of which the creature appeared in Predator 2, as later did Starscream in Michael Bay’sTransformers).

Blade Runner filming location: the bench at Angel's Knoll, overlooking downtown Los Angeles
(500) Days of Summer location: Tom’s favourite place – but you can’t visit any more: the bench at Angel’s Knoll, overlooking downtown Los Angeles

Tom’s favourite spot, with the bench, was Angel’s Knoll, a small green space overlooking downtown LA and the old Angels Flight Railway. The film’s bench was even graced with a plaque commemorating the park’s place in cinema history. But no more. As of July 2013, the park has been fenced off, apparently pending redevelopment.

500 Days of Summer filming location: the bench at Angel's Knoll, overlooking downtown Los Angeles
(500) Days of Summer location: Tom’s favourite place – but you can’t visit any more: the plaque on the bench at Angel’s Knol

In the film the park is inexplicably referred to as Angelus Plaza – which is actually a nearby location seen in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report.

(500) Days of Summer filming location: the Broadway Bar, 830 South Broadway, downtown Los Angeles
(500) Days of Summer location: Tom springs to Summer’s defence: the Broadway Bar, 830 South Broadway, downtown Los Angeles

The bar in which Tom springs to Summer’s defence and gets a smack in the face for his troubles, is the Broadway Bar, 830 South Broadway between West Eighth and West Ninth Streets – alongside the famous Orpheum Theatre (itself a screen regular). A single punch, though, seems to be getting off lightly, compared with the squabble that the Transformers get into immediately outside the Broadway Bar.

(500) Days of Summer filming location: Point Fermin Lighthouse, San Pedro
(500) Days of Summer location: the wedding: Point Fermin Lighthouse, San Pedro | Photograph: iStockphoto/John Mulligan

Tom appears to travel by train up the coast to attend Millie’s wedding. In fact, the nuptials are celebrated at the Point Fermin Lighthouse, 807 West Paseo Del Marin, San Pedro, south of the city. Built in 1874, the Victorian-style Lighthouse was the first navigational light into San Pedro Bay and its light beamed until the blackout ordered after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The lantern was removed during WWII, but in recent years, the lighthouse has been restored, and on November 1, 2003, was opened to the public.

(500) Days Of Summer location: Million Dollar Theater, South Broadway, downtown Los Angeles
(500) Days Of Summer location: watching Vagiant: Million Dollar Theater, 307 South Broadway, downtown Los Angeles

Tom and Summer watch Vagiant ("Half vampire! Half giant!") at the Million Dollar Theater, 307 South Broadway.

Blade Runner filming location: Bradbury Building, downtown Los Angeles
(500) Days of Summer location: Tom’s job interview: Bradbury Building, 304 South Broadway, downtown Los Angeles

Directly opposite the theater stands the wonderful Bradbury Building, 304 South Broadway. This is the office at which Tom attends the job interview at the end of the film. Its elegant interior is famous from Blade Runner, among many other films.