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“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” Basketball Court

Nov 8th, 2016 | By | Category: Movie Locations

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I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how my friend Owen found the basketball court from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  (That’s Owen, of the When Write Is Wrong blog, for those who don’t read my site regularly.)  Back in June 2011, he became bound and determined to track down the court, which was featured prominently each week in the popular NBC series’ opening credits.  At the time, it was one of Owen’s top three most-wanted yet-to-be found spots, the two others being the Three’s Company apartment building (which he wound up tracking down in March 2012) and Brooks Memorial Home for the Aged from Miracle on 34th Street (which remains a huge thorn in his side – do any of my fellow stalkers know where it is??).  He was fairly certain the court was located in Philadelphia, where TFPOBA was set, and not in Los Angeles where the series was lensed.  So he began scouring Google Maps aerial views for basketball courts in Philly and then compared Street View images of the spots he came across to screen captures from the opening credits.  After looking at a LOT of different courts, he finally pinpointed the right place – Roberto Clemente Playground at 1800 Wallace Street.  It’s not in West Philadelphia, as Will Smith so famously raps in the theme song, but in North Philadelphia – Spring Garden to be exact.

Because it is not a New York or Los Angeles locale, Owen did not think I would be interested in the court, but he passed along the address anyway.  And interested I was!  Not only did I love The Fresh Prince growing up, but Philadelphia had long been on the Grim Cheaper’s bucket list of travel sites, so I knew we would be heading there at some point in time.  Though it was five years before we actually did so, Roberto Clemente Playground was still high up on my list of Philly Must-Stalks.

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The 2.5-acre site, which is also known as Clemente Park and Playground, was named in honor of baseball player/humanitarian Roberto Clemente, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates for 18 seasons, beginning in 1955.

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Though the park was a center of drug and gang activity for a time, thanks to the efforts of a woman named Sara Hirschler, who formed the Friends of Clemente group, the property was cleaned up and renovated to the tune of $600,000 in 2011.  Such features as a water spray park, a jungle gym, modern fencing, a new entrance, and green space were added during the renovations.

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But thankfully, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air basketball court was left intact . . .

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. . . and it looks much the same today as it did when the opening credits were shot in 1990.  (Yep, it’s been 26 years since The Fresh Prince started airing.  I’m not even sure how that is possible!)

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So much so that it proved impossible not to sing out, “In West Philadelphia born and raised, on the playground is where I spent most of my days, chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool, and all shooting some b-ball outside of the school . . . “ several times while we were stalking the place.

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Amazingly, even the eagle painting visible in the background of the opening is still there, though foliage largely blocks the view of it from the court.

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But you can catch a glimpse of it in my photos below.  The eagle is painted on the rear side of Laura Weller Waring School, an elementary school that is situated adjacent to the playground.

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The park’s small rec center building, which is visible on the right hand side of the screen capture below, also remains intact.

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Though it looks a bit different today due to the murals that are painted all over its exterior, it is still very recognizable from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air opening credits.

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Most amazing of all, though (to me at least), is the fact that the actual basketball hoops and backboards still look exactly the same!  I am shocked – and thrilled – that they weren’t modernized during the renovation.

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Alas, there are a few things that have changed over the years.  The tall row houses seen in the background of the opening credits were torn down to make way for The Spring Gardens, a community garden maintained by 180 local citizens that was started in 1995.

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The benches where “a couple of guys who were up to no good” sat have since been swapped out with new ones.  Unfortunately, I did not get a photograph matching the exact angle shown in that portion of the credits, but the area that was visible still looks very much as it did onscreen.  The building seen in the background to the left in the below image is the rear side of Enon Baptist Church.

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I captured the church on the right hand side of my photos below.

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You can watch The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air opening by clicking below.

Boyz II Men also shot their 1992 “Sympin” music video at Roberto Clemente Playground.

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You can watch that video by clicking below.

Big THANK YOU to my friend Owen, of the When Write Is Wrong blog, for finding this location!  Smile

For more stalking fun, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Los Angeles magazine and Discover Los Angeles.

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Until next time, Happy Stalking! Smile

Stalk It: Roberto Clemente Playground, aka The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air basketball court, is located at 1800 Wallace Street in Philadelphia’s Spring Garden neighborhood.

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3 comments

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  1. Danny says:

    Pretty cool that they actually filmed that in Philadelphia when they could have just as easily used another court in LA.

  2. Owen says:

    Oh, you know I love it when you post about sports-related sites, Lindsay. As a fan of the NBA’s 76ers, I get no enjoyment or fulfillment from Philadelphia basketball. Your post is the only thing that can infuse some City of Brotherly Love hoops happiness into my life.

    By the way, when the guys who were up to no good are sitting on the bench, we also catch a glimpse of a portion of a baseball backstop in the upper left. That backstop, like the backboards, appears to be the same one today. Love it!

    And thanks so much for bringing the Brooks Memorial Home from “Miracle on 34th Street” to the attention of your readers. (Note: That’s from the 1947 original version, readers, not the 1994 remake.) It’s a long shot that someone will know the location, but the odds are still better than that of the 76ers winning a championship!

    Yo, homes, smell ya later!


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