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Modern Place

Constructed together with New York Street, Modern Place was one of the more elusive streets on the Ranch. Consisting originally of only two structures on the north side and two shops on the south, it was seen in many serials of the time but not often used as a main shooting location.

Part of a 1940's  Blueprint of the Ranch, showing the original layout of Modern Place and it's Facades with corresponding Legend.

The corner facade of New York Street and Modern Place was called the 'Bank building', which received that name from the 1936 movie 'Adventure in Manhattan', in which it was seen for the first time. We also get a rare glimpse of the structure on the other side of the Bank from the movie 'Golden Boy' from 1939, which was only a door facade without any windows.

Left: In 'Confessions of Boston Blackie' from 1942 , a rare view of the half facade that stood to the right of the Bank.

Across the street from the Bank, was the back of the original Park Blvd Apartments, with a Corner Store and few false shop fronts facing Modern Place.  

Several Serial Shorts of the time did utilize Modern Place for minor scenes, as mentioned above, the Boston Blackie serials but also the Three Stooges, Atom Man vs. Superman,  and Batman were some of the others to film here.

The Intersection of New York Street and Modern Place from 'Atom Man vs. Superman' in 1948 . Visible here is the Corner store of the Park Blvd Apartments on the right with New York Street on the left. A similar view further below of the newly constructed facades in 1950.

The last times any of these Facades can be seen is in 'The Fuller Brush Girl' and 'The Good Humor Man' both filmed right before the major fire swept through this area and destroyed them.

Some of the last scenes filmed that showed Modern Place as it was originally, can be seen in the movie 'The Fuller Brush Girl' from 1950 with Lucille Ball. That is the original Bank in the back ground.

On May 26 1950 a major fire struck the Ranch. It was a disasterous blaze that destroyed half of New York street and took out Modern Place completely. The Bank, Newstand, Caplin Theater and the Department store, were lost, as well as the Water Spillway (Water Drop) the Scenic wall and the Power generator plant. Click the article below to read the news story.

There are a few glimpses of Modern Place being gone for this short time, one is a photograph from July of 1950, showing New York Street and Modern Place being prepped for a new foundation, and the other is from the movie 'The Mob' from 1951, but was filmed in July of 1950.

Thankfully, Columbia immediately began rebuilding the entire section. Although, just like New York Street, Modern Place also received a new look. It gained the Vista Theatre and the Corner Book Store, plus a new, never labeled 3 story building to hide the Water Tank from being seen.

Above Left: Construction on the new facades at the intersection of  New York Street and Modern Place. Above Right:  The new Corner Store and Book Store on New York Street as seen in October of 1950.

Above: A rare view of the backside of Modern Place from the 1953 movie 'The 49th Man'. The 3 doorways are part of the false Lobby of the new Vista Theatre. The large dark structure is the Water Tank/Drop. Shortly after, a 'Alley way' was created so one would not look at the barebones structures seen here.

Unfortunately, less then 3 years later, another fire destroyed the other side of Modern Place. The original 'Park Blvd. Apartments' which stood at the intersection of Park Blvd, New York Street and Modern Place, was caught in a blaze that took out the entire Park Blvd section.

Sadly there are no complete Set Stills  (photos of the Facades) of Modern Place that have been found thus far of when it was rebuilt but, there are plenty of great views in the many movies filmed at Columbia Ranch, like the one below from the 1955 movie 'It Came From Beneath The Sea'.

Below is a great aerial view from 1964, showing the small portion of street that was Modern Place.  The angled structure seen predominately  in the shot was an extra 3 story facade that was put in place to hide the Water Tank support beams and to give the area a little more 'functionality' to film, with it looking on to the back of other structures.

After the rebuilt, Modern Place became a much more popular place to film for productions. In part because it now had a Grand facade Theatre (originally there was one on New York Street), plus it also had the Alley way (also originally on New York Street) and small store fronts on the opposite side.  It could be filmed from many angles, making it seem as if it was a different intersection, or even another city. Even though it was not a 'full fledged' street, it certainly garnered more presence on screen then before its 1950 fire.

Above, the new version of Modern Place as seen in the 1964 movie, 'Bikini Beach.', which also shows the extra facade that was constructed to hide the Water Tank.

In 1965, a larger, lighted Marquee was added to the original canopy of the Theatre and makes its first appearance in the 'Gidget' TV series. Not long after, the other side gets the same treatment in the movie 'Dead Heat on a Merry Go Round'.  

The ultimate view of the Vista Theatre we get to see in the 1968 Barbra Streisand movie 'Funny Girl'. Where we not only get to see the full 'new' marquee, but also a nice view of the fake  'Lobby' with its 3 door ways to the empty behind, and we finally get to see the new 'Alley Way' in a grand zoom in at the beginning of the movie.

The final moments of that movie also give us a wider view of the Vista Theatre and its neighbors which gives a nice perspective of the size of these facades.

Many shows of the late 60's and early 70's show Modern Place at some point or another. Shows like 'Gidget', 'Hazel', 'Bewitched', 'The Monkees', 'I Dream of Jeannie', 'The Flying Nun', 'The Partridge Family', ' Search' and 'Apple's Way' had some scenes showing Modern Place.

Unfortunately in September of 1974, a Multi-Million dollar fire burned down over a quarter of the Ranch in one of the biggest blazes the Ranch had ever encountered. All of New York Street, Modern Place, Modern Street, Skid Row/Tenement Street,Brownstone Street  and Boston Street were destroyed, including the 3 soundstages located behind the facades and also the Water Tank. It scorched the Scenic Wall severely.

Despite the fact that the powers that be, (by now The Burbank Studios ,a merger between Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros.)  announced that all would be rebuilt, this never happened. The entire area was cleared and sat empty for some years.




Today, there is only a one small section left of what once was Modern Place. The back of the new Bank building that used to face the Vista Theatre.