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The Levitt Pavilion MacArthur Park Bandshell from “New Girl”

Jun 18th, 2012 | By | Category: TV Locations

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Brace yourselves, my fellow stalkers, because today’s post is going to be a long one!  Another New Girl location that my good friend/fellow stalker Lavonna asked me to track down recently was the park where Jess (Zooey Deschanel) held a recital for her “Ensembell” bell choir in the Season 1 episode titled “Bells”.  This actually turned out to be a rather fun hunt for me because, in an unprecedented turn of events, the Grim Cheaper became a bit fixated with helping in the search.  When the two of us first watched the “Bells” episode a few weeks after Lavonna’s challenge, he thought the park and its unique bandshell looked familiar, but he could not place where he had seen them.  So he immediately started doing research on local parks, yet, sadly, came up empty-handed.  Then, a few days later while we were out and about stalking, anytime we would happen to drive by a park, he would pull over to see if the New Girl bandshell was there.  As luck would have it, he ended up spotting it that same afternoon at MacArthur Park in the Wilshire District of Los Angeles.  Whoo-hoo!  Thank you, GC!  So we pulled right on over to snap some pics.

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The land where MacArthur Park now sits was first developed by the City of Los Angeles as a drinking water reservoir in the 1880s.  When the area’s piping systems were later changed around 1890, the reservoir was no longer needed and the site was transformed into a public park known as Westlake Park.  The locale, which featured a picturesque lake, a boathouse, and manicured gardens, quickly became a popular recreational destination for the wealthy citizens who lived nearby and the wealthy tourists who vacationed at the many luxury hotels in the neighborhood.  During that era, the 32-acre property was known as the “Champs-Elysees of Los Angeles”.  Oh, how times have changed!  In 1934, it was decided that Wilshire Boulevard, which formerly dead-ended at Westlake’s western border, would be extended and connected to Orange Street in order to run through to downtown Los Angeles.  A berm was built which bisected Westlake, and its large lake, into two halves, with the northern portion of the lake eventually being drained, leaving a smaller, 8-acre, 23-million-gallon, 15-foot deep pond on the property’s southern side.

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Sadly, during the ‘80s, the site, which in 1942 was renamed General Douglas MacArthur Park in honor of the famed WWII general, became a haven of drug, gang and criminal activity.  Despite an attempted revitalization in 2002, the property is still pretty dangerous.  Even though we stalked the park during daylight hours, I was still extremely uncomfortable being there.  While we were snapping pictures of the Levitt Pavilion bandshell, which was completely renovated in 2007 and now offers over 50 free concerts each summer, some loon jumped onto the stage armed with a huge generator, microphone and boom box and proceeded to put on his very own rap concert.  I cannot even imagine what the place is like at night!  It sure is picturesque, though!

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MacArthur Park is full of shady characters and we also witnessed a few drug sales in the short ten minutes we were there.  To quote the Wikipedia page on the location, “Public urination in the park is illegal but commonplace.”  Yep, that pretty much sums it up!  As you can see below, though, the site does boast some pretty incredible views of the downtown L.A. skyline.

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Because the park, which in 1972 was designated Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #100, is so picturesque, it is not hard to understand why it has been the site of countless filmings over the years.  The place also inspired the Richard Harris-penned 1968 song for Jimmy Webb titled “MacArthur Park” and Donna Summer’s 1970 remake of it, and it also quite possibly might have been the location of the eponymous bridge in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 1992 hit “Under the Bridge”.

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In the “Bells” episode of New Girl, MacArthur Park stood in for the fictional “Pershing Park” where Ensembell held their first recital.  (The homeless guy fist-fighting the air in the first screen capture pictured below is pretty much a true-to-life description of the types of people one will encounter at the park.)

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In the Season 1 episode of Dragnet 1967 titled “The Bank Examiner Swindle”, MacArthur Park was where Sgt. Joe Friday (Jack Webb) and Officer Bill Gannon (Harry Morgan) interviewed Fred Gregory (Burt Mustin), one of the victims of a financial scam against the elderly.

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In the Season 1 episode of Starsky and Hutch titled “Lady Blue”, MacArthur Park stood in for the fictional “Lincoln Gardens” where Detective Ken ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson (David Soul) and Detective Dave Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser) investigated the murder of Starsky’s ex-girlfriend Helen.

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And in the Season 2 episode of Starsky and Hutch titled “Vendetta”, the park was where the duo picnicked with their girlfriends before getting interrupted by a “1040” call.

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In the Season 5 episode of The A-Team titled “The Grey Team”, MacArthur Park was where Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck (Dirk Benedict) and John ‘Hannibal’ Smith (George Peppard) spied on a Soviet agent named Saroff (Tony Steedman).

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In 1993’s Falling Down, MacArthur Park was the spot where William ‘D-Fens’ Foster (Michael Douglas) got into an altercation with a homeless man.  At the time of the filming, the lake had been drained and the park was undergoing major construction for the Metro Rail Rail Line addition, so it looked considerably different than it does today.

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In 1997’s Volcano, MacArthur Park was the site where seven public works employees were steamed to death while working on a storm drain.

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The location was used extensively in 2001’s aptly-titled MacArthur Park.

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In 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan) saves her friend Gay Perry (Val Kilmer) from being killed at MacArthur Park.

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The music video for Gym Class Heroes’ 2005 song “Cupid’s Chokehold/Breakfast in America”, which starred Katy Perry, was shot extensively at MacArthur Park.

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You can watch that video by clicking below.

Gym Class Heroes: “Cupid’s Chokehold/Breakfast in America” Filmed at MacArthur Park

In the Season 6 episode of Numb3rs titled “Hangman”, Don Eppes (Rob Morrow) and his FBI team were shot at while setting up security for a political rally at MacArthur Park.

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In the Season 1 episode of fave show FlashForward (I am still not over the fact that it was cancelled!) titled “Black Swan”, there is a flashback scene of the blackout experience of a man named Ned Ned (Keir O’Donnell) in which a city bus crashes into the MacArthur Park lake.

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In the Season 1 episode of American Horror Story titled “Murder House”, MacArthur Park was where the ultra-creepy Larry Harvey (Denis O’Hare) approached Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott) to ask for $1,000 to get headshots taken.

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MacArthur Park has popped up on the television series Southland no less than 3 times.  In the Season 2 episode titled “Butch & Sundance”, the park was where Detective Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) chased a gang member named Orlando (Eddie Maldonado).

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In the Season 4 episode titled “Identity”, Detective Bryant and Officer Ben Sherman (cutie Ben McKenzie – sigh!) arrested a teenager for drug possession at MacArthur Park.

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In that same episode, MacArthur Park also appeared as the spot where Detectives Lydia Adams (Regina King) and Ruben Robinson (Dorian Missick) tracked down a suspect named Nicole (Chrissy Stokes).

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And in the Season 4 episode titled “God’s Work”, Officer John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz – aka Beverly Hills, 90210’s Tony Miller Smile) talked to his unnamed sponsor, who was played by Lawrence Gilliard Jr., about his partner, Officer Jessica Tang (Lucy Liu), while walking around MacArthur Park’s lake.

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In 2011’s Drive, “Driver” (Ryan Gosling) made a deal with Cook (James Biberi) while at MacArthur Park.

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And while IMDB claims that the Season 2 episode of the original Melrose Place titled “Till Death Do Us Part” was shot at MacArthur Park, filming actually took place at the similar-looking Echo Park.

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MacArthur Park was also featured in the movie Brave New World, but unfortunately I was unable to find a copy of that production with which to make screen captures for this post.  And while the location supposedly appeared in 1992’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I scanned through the flick earlier today and did not spot it anywhere.

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: The Levitt Pavilion MacArthur Park bandshell, from the “Bells” episode of New Girl, is located at 2230 West 6th Street, on the northern side of MacArthur Park, in Los Angeles.  You can visit the Pavilion’s official website here.  Be forewarned, MacArthur Park is not the safest place, especially at night, so please exercise caution.

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11 comments

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  1. Carlos Rodriguez says:

    To start of YES, I am biased as I am the Production/ Marketing/ Operations Manager for Levitt Pavilion MacArthur Park (Levitt LA) and was actually at the filming of the New Girl episode ;), to be fair to the Levitt Pavilion MacArthur Park which is a non profit 50 FREE Summer Concert Series it may not be your cup of tea but it was named by the LA Weekly the BEST FREE CONCERT SERIES in LA in 2012. Here is the LA Weekly article to share.

    http://www.laweekly.com/bestof/2012/award/best-free-concert-series-1892286/

    Levitt LA is a non profit that provides 50 FREE Concerts and non discriminatory access to hundreds of thousands in an underprivileged area (MacArthur Park), located in the most densely populated immigrant community in the U.S.

    P.S. Many New Girl episodes are filmed at the Park Plaza Hotel which is directly across the street from the Pavilion. I used to see Zooey all the time and I never heard her complain about the area.

  2. Gilles from France says:

    The info for “Melrose Place” can be found in thist website too: http://90210locations.info/location/view/518/sydney-and-kimberlys-murder-plot-park It says “The park is split by Wilshire Blvd. The scene was shot near the pond south of Wilshire Blvd”. What do you think?

    • Mike says:

      Wrong Sir, This IS Echo Park, geyser and where they’re standing matches perfectly with the US Bank in the background, MacArthur Park’s geyser does not match at all, besides they would have to be standing on the south end where geyser is, meaning, everything would have to be opposite and that does not match as well. ALSO the palm trees in Echo Park (behind them) are much closer together rather than the ones in MacArthur Park, Those are separated further from each other. You may want to send this link to your buddy, cause i can’t stand false information.

    • Lindsay says:

      Trust me – it’s Echo Park. I spend hours researching each location and don’t add any info to my site unless I am sure I am correct. If you look at the photograph of Echo Park that I linked to in the post, you can see that it’s a perfect match. Also the MacArthur Park geyser consists of one of water stream, whereas the Echo Park geyser is a circle of several streams.

  3. MM says:

    Touché – I thought of that after I wrote it. Training Day was in an alley near the park BUT there was a scene shot that was cut that’s on youtube & that scene was on the street in front of the park. Great Post Lindsay!

  4. Justin says:

    I knew MacArthur Park had to be dangerous when Will told Carlton not to go down there at night on an episode of Fresh Prince. :)

  5. MM says:

    2 more – training day & John candy & Eugene levy’s 1988 Classic “Armed & Dangerous” filmed @ the park. It’s also a great spot to score meth, fake ids, hookers & pastrami sandwiches.

    • Lindsay says:

      “Training Day” filmed in alley near the park, but not in the actual park. :( I will have to check out “Armed & Dangerous”. Thanks for the tip! :)


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