The (Probable) Warehouse from Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” VideoMar 26th, 2010 | By Lindsay | Category: Michael Jackson Locations
Another day, another “Beat It” locale! After tracking down the probable diner that appeared in “Beat It”, I set my sights on locating the warehouse which was also featured in Michael Jackson’s iconic 1983 music video. And I really have to say a big thank you to my friend and fellow stalker David in Spain before I go any further with this post because had he not informed me that the “Beat It” diner was located somewhere on Fifth Street in Downtown Los Angeles’ skid row area, I doubt any of us would have ever been able to track down the other locales featured in the short film. Finding these locations has been like a veritable domino effect, one locale leading to the next and to the next and to the next, all thanks to that original clue that David emailed me a few weeks back. So, thank you, David! Anyway, two weeks ago I was at my parents house watching my dad’s Michael Jackson’s Number Ones DVD trying to figure out where the “Beat It” warehouse was located, when my dad spotted an address number of 1013 (pictured above) painted on the building’s exterior wall. I immediately sent that information out to Mike, from MovieShotsLA, David in Spain, and another fellow stalker named David who lives right here in the U.S. (the very same David who tracked down the Martini house from It’s A Wonderful Life which I blogged about back in December). Well, it wasn’t an hour later that David from America (is this getting confusing yet? ) emailed me back with the warehouse’s location – 1013 Fifth Street – which is the very same street where the “Beat It” diner and former pool hall/now grocery store can be found! So, I immediately dragged my dad right out to stalk the place. THANK YOU, DAVID!
As the word “probable” in the title of this post implies and as was the case with the diner, I can’t say with absolute, one hundred percent certainty that the warehouse David found is the actual “Beat It” warehouse. There are quite a few irrefutable similarities between the building that appeared in the video and the one pictured above, but because almost three decades have passed since filming took place, there are also, of course, some major differences. My gut is telling me that it’s the right spot, and they do say that you should always trust a woman’s intuition, but I just can’t be sure. So, once again, dear readers, I am putting it out there for to you to answer. Let me know what you think after reading this post. Did David find the correct place or should we continue our search? And now, on with the blog! The “Beat It” warehouse is currently occupied by a food distributer known as Jing San Food, Incorporated and all I have to say is THANK GOD my dad was with me on this particular stalk because he somehow managed to not only talk our way into the building, but to also get permission to take photographs of the place! Simply AMAZING! Anyway, according to the people I talked to, Jing San Food moved into the warehouse space two years ago and, unfortunately, no one seemed to know what sort of business occupied the premises before that time. Nor did anyone seem to know anything about “Beat It” being filmed there – if, in fact, it was. Anyway, as you can see in the above photographs, the address number of Jing San Food is actually 458 and not 1013 as we had seen in the video.
But, if you look at the above Google Maps Aerial View of the warehouse you can see that it is located on the corner of Alameda and Fifth Streets. The 458 address number refers to its location on Alameda. As is also referenced in the above map, though, the south side of warehouse is situated on the 1000 block of Fifth Street, on the odd-numbered side of the street, which means that it is very possible that way back in 1983, the year “Beat It” was filmed, the warehouse could have been numbered 1013. I am guessing that the building was divided up and leased to more than one tenant at that time, which would have required there to be more than one address number. Because the building is only occupied by one tenant today, those multiple address numbers would be redundant and unnecessary. I am guessing that they did away with the Fifth Street numbers and just kept the Alameda Street address once the new tenants moved in. But, again, that is entirely a guess on my part.
Amazingly enough, though, I did spot a “0” posted on the Fifth Street side of the warehouse – which seems to be a left over address number from quite some time ago and absolutely cements my belief that that particular part of the building was numbered 1013 at one time. So, that’s one thing we’ve got going in our favor.
The next, and quite possibly biggest, thing we’ve got going for us is the cement staircase which leads up to the warehouse. As you can see it is a pretty exact match to the one which appeared in “Beat It”. The warehouse doors have changed and there is now a makeshift doorway in one of the bays (which you can see more pictures of later on in this post) . . .
. . . but otherwise this part of the exterior looks pretty darn similar to the “Beat It” warehouse exterior.
The windows which appear across the street from the warehouse are also pretty darn spot on to the windows which appear across the street in “Beat It”. Unfortunately, I couldn’t match up the exact angle that appeared in the video as there were by no stretch of the imagination at least fifteen big rig trucks parked out on the street in front of the warehouse blocking my view.
Yet another thing we’ve got going in our favor is the fact that the warehouse in the “Beat It” video has an awning of some sort on its exterior and the warehouse David found also has remnants of what looks to be a former awning.
The inside of the warehouse, however, is an entirely different story. As you can see in the above photograph and screen capture, the ceiling of the building does not look at all like the ceiling from “Beat It”. I confirmed with one of the Jing San Food workers that the entire ceiling of the warehouse had been replaced – not redone, but actually replaced – two years ago, before they took over the space, so it would make sense that it wouldn’t match. But I have no way to confirm what the old ceiling looked like and it seems odd to me that someone would actually change the entire shape of the roof from peaked to flat. I mean, it’s possible that that happened, but I can’t say that it’s very likely.
As promised, pictured above is the interior view of the makeshift door that now stands in the “Beat It” bay. As you can see, the door, which did not appear in the video, was quite obviously an add-on to the property and not an original part of the warehouse. It also, sadly, alters the appearance of the interior quite a bit.
While stalking the warehouse, my dad and I tried to locate something that would tie the place to the “Beat It” video – any small remnant that would irrefutably prove that we were in the right place. Sadly, no such remnant was to be found. In the video, it appears that there is some sort of makeshift office space located behind Michael and the gang members. That office space is no longer there, though. My dad said that warehouses typically have some type of coarse office set-up like the one which appeared in “Beat It” and that because it is usually constructed in a rudimentary manner, it would not be at all uncommon for a new tenant to dispose of it.
Part of that rudimentary office space consisted of a second floor area (you can see the stairway leading up to it in the above screen capture).
At first blush I wouldn’t think that the warehouse I visited would have been tall enough to house a second floor, but as you can see in the above photographs, the tenants are currently having one installed! So, it actually is possible and is, in fact, being done!
The chipped up cement floor of the warehouse is also very similar to the one which appeared in “Beat It”, but then again I would expect the floor of any heavily trafficked warehouse to have that same worn-in appearance.
So, like I said earlier, I am putting it to you to decide, dear readers. Have we found the warehouse? If David was right and this is in fact the actual “Beat It” warehouse, it is absolutely mind-boggling to me that I was in the exact spot where the King of Pop made music history almost three decades prior. That warehouse floor is definitely hallowed ground and I can’t even believe I was able to stand on it!
David was also able to track down the probable manhole cover that the gang members came out of at the beginning of “Beat It”. And I just have to say here that that particular part of the video never really made sense to me. What, do these guys live underground? Just hang out there? LOL Even as a child I can remember wondering why people would be coming up out of the ground like that. But I digress.
We believe the manhole cover is located just east of the warehouse in the middle of the intersection of East Fifth and Seaton Streets. This particular location will be the toughest of them all to prove, though, because . . . well . . it’s a manhole cover. Such covers are located all over the city, pretty much all look exactly the same, and, unfortunately, aside from a nearby set of train tracks, there aren’t really any landmarks seen in the “Beat It’” video with which to distinguish it. But, due to its close proximity to the warehouse and a set of train tracks. I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet that the manhole cover pictured above is the one which appeared in “Beat It”.
Big THANK YOU to David (from America) for finding this location and to David (from Spain) for setting off the entire “Beat It” chain of events!
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: The probable “Beat It” warehouse, aka the Jing San Food, Inc. warehouse, is located at 458 South Alameda Street, at the corner of Alameda and East Fifth Streets, in Downtown Los Angeles. The probable manhole cover is located at the intersection of East Fifth and Seaton Streets, just due east of the warehouse.