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Monday July 15th 2024

The Terminator | 1984

The Terminator location: Griffith Observatory, Griffith Park, Los Angeles
The Terminator location: The Terminator approaches the three punks: Griffith Observatory, Griffith Park, Los Angeles

Discover where The Terminator (1984) was filmed around Los Angeles; including the Griffith Observatory, Downtown, Hollywood, Pasadena, Huntington Park and the San Fernando Valley.


Arnold Schwarzenegger, the cyborg sent back from 2029AD to terminate future heroine Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), first materialises in a flurry of animated lightning at the Griffith Observatory, 2800 East Observatory Road, in Griffith Park, where he rips the hearts out of a couple of punks (including a young Bill Paxton) and takes their clothes (while thanking God he didn’t land in a convent). The scene features some stunning nighttime views over the great flat expanse of Los Angeles.

The Terminator location: Griffith Observatory, Griffith Park, Los Angeles
The Terminator location: The Terminator materialises: Griffith Observatory, Griffith Park, Los Angeles

Rebel Without A Cause gave the Observatory worldwide fame in 1955 (there’s now a bust of James Dean in the grounds), since when it's been featured in the Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy Hollywood satire Bowfinger; stylish 1995 neo-noir Devil In A Blue Dress, with Denzel Washington; Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle; the spoofy 1987 film of Dragnet – with Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd; The Rocketeer and, of course, La La Land.

The Terminator location: West Seventh Street, Downtown Los Angeles
The Terminator location: Reese materialises in Downtown LA: West Seventh Street, Downtown Los Angeles

The human resistance is not far behind, in the form of Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), travelling economy class and landing in a grungy downtown area of Los Angeles, in the alleyway at 212 and 214 West Seventh Street, between Broadway and South Spring Street.

Diving into a department store alongside, he's soon kitted himself out with a brand new mac and trainers.

Away from all this weirdness, Sarah Connor is working in a thankless job as a waitress in ‘Big Jeff's’ cafe, which is actually Carrows Restaurant, 815 South Fremont Avenue at Mission Street, South Pasadena. It's still there but currently closed. A shame, I got a really good burger here a few years ago.

The Terminator location: Carrows Restaurant, South Fremont Avenue, Pasadena
The Terminator location: ‘Big Jeff's’: Carrows Restaurant, South Fremont Avenue, Pasadena

Sarah lives with her roommate at 420 South Lafayette Park Place, just south of West 3rd Street, near MacArthur Park, just west of Downtown, as the Terminator will soon discover.

The Terminator location: South Lafayette Park Place, Downtown Los Angeles
The Terminator location: Sarah Connor's apartment: South Lafayette Park Place, Downtown Los Angeles

Newly kitted out, the Terminator gets tooled up at the ‘Alamo Gun Shop’, which is now still recognisable, though it's a used-car store, Car Planet, 14329 Victory Boulevard at Tyrone Avenue, Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley.

He shows his thanks to the shop-owner (stalwart character actor Dick Miller) by immediately blowing him away.

The Terminator location: Victory Boulevard, Van Nuys, San Fernando Valley
The Terminator location: ‘Alamo Gunshop’: Victory Boulevard, Van Nuys, San Fernando Valley

Showing more of his "serious attitude problem", he yanks a guy out of a phone booth to search for 'Sarah Connor' in the phone book. This is just a little further along the road from the gun shop.

Reese is struggling to compete with this arsenal, sawing down his weapon in another alleyway on Downtown's Seventh Street, this time alongside 219 West Seventh Street.

While the Terminator begins methodically wiping out every 'Sarah Connor' he can find in the city, his real target has already left her apartment. She's relaxing in Italian restaurant Miceli’s, 1646 Las Palmas Avenue, just off Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood. It's here that she's spooked to hear that a second 'Sarah Connor' has been murdered in LA.

From the bursts of flame in the open kitchen, forest of dangling Chianti bottles and full-throated operatic waiters, the whole theatrical experience has seen Miceli’s thrive long enough to lay claim to be Hollywood’s oldest Italian restaurant. Don’t miss.

I can't post a photo as they have a 'no phones' policy and I bottled out of sneaking a cheeky pic.

You can see it again on screen in 2007 comedy Knocked Up, with Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen.

The Terminator location: South Hill Street, Downtown Los Angeles
The Terminator location: Sarah Connor ducks into 'Tech-Noir' nightclub: South Hill Street, Downtown Los Angeles

Stepping outside, she's immediately Downtown – on South Hill Street. Realising she's being followed, she ducks into a nightclub called 'Tech-Noir', supposedly on 'Pico Boulevard'.

This was an empty property at 720 South Hill Street, so convincingly converted into a club that it's claimed people were wandering into the set from the street. It's only a few doors away from the restaurant that was used as 'Taco Dirty' in 2020's Harley Quinn movie, Birds of Prey – but in Downtown LA, you're never more than 100 yards away from a movie location.

Hearing the message on Sarah's answering machine (remember those?), the Terminator has discovered her current whereabouts. She's narrowly saved from death by Reese, with the immortal line "Come with me if you want to live". The pair are chased along the alley alongside 219 West Seventh Street again, taking a car and managing to throw the relentless Terminator off the hood on West Seventh in front of the Haas Building.

Unfazed, Terminator follows them in a cop car along South Hill Street, crossing familiar old 7th Street again.

The Terminator location: West 1st Street, Downtown Los Angeles
The Terminator location: Reese crashes into the underground parking lot: West 1st Street, Downtown Los Angeles

Reese manages to get them away and crashes into the underground parking lot of the Department of Power and Water on the north side of West 1st Street, between South Figueroa and South Hope Streets, where he attempts to explain the whole situation to Sarah.

The LADWP complex above them has more recently been seen – with a bit of CGI – as that waterlogged dream city in Christopher Nolan's Inception.

The motel, where Reese teaches Connor survival skills and where, presumably, John Connor is conceived, is the Tiki Motel, 7301 Santa Fe Avenue, Huntington Park. It's no longer my duty to warn you that this is not five-star accommodation, as it's since closed down and been redeveloped as private housing.

The Terminator location: Tiki Motel, Santa Fe Avenue, Huntington Park, Los Angeles
The Terminator location: Sarah Connor learns survival skills: Tiki Motel, Santa Fe Avenue, Huntington Park, Los Angeles

The Terminator meanwhile holes up in the Panama Hotel, 403 East 5th Street, between Wall Street and San Pedro Street. Be aware this is close to the distressing area of LA's notorious Skid Row. Stretches of East 5th Street are currently a tent city for the homeless.

The Terminator location: Panama Hotel, East Fifth Street, Downtown Los Angeles
The Terminator location: the Terminator hides out: Panama Hotel, East Fifth Street, Downtown Los Angeles

The tunnel chase, with the Terminator’s bike dodging home-made bombs, was filmed in the Second Street Tunnel, which dives underground between Hill Street and Figueroa Street, also downtown.

The final confrontation, with the Terminator reduced to a metal endoskeleton before being crushed in the jaws of a metal press, was filmed at Kern’s of California, 13010 East Temple Avenue, down in City of Industry, southeast Los Angeles.

Before disappearing into the ‘Mexican’ desert, Connor gets her picture taken at the remote gas station in Sun Valley in the Mojave Desert (Joshua Trees are a dead giveaway), outskirts of Palmdale, north of Los Angeles.