Slap Shot: Then and Now
Author's Note: This post originally was uploaded on TheTomablog, on July 3 2013. It was slightly edited on June 28, 2020.
When you say "Johnstown Pa", the average person will probably either say that they know the city because of our floods, or because of the movie, "Slap Shot". Judging by the title of this blog post, we're not talking about the town's greatest floods.
Today is all about the movie, "Slap Shot". More importantly, taking a look back at the city of Johnstown, which played the role of Charlestown in the film.
Viewers of the film see what the city looked like back in 1977, but many probably don't know what Johnstown looks like today. Maybe you live in Johnstown and would like to know where some of the filming locations are located. Well, this is the post for you.
Then and Now
We're going to look back at several scenes in the cult-classic film and show you what they look like today.
1. We will not be covering anything from inside the Cambria County War Memorial Arena. We might do a part two during the season and cover what the arena looked like back then and what it looks like now. You'll have to wait and see.
2. Sorry, no nude scenes. We're not going to do a Then and Now of actress Melinda Dillion who played Suzanne Hanrahan, because this is a blog for families, and the "Now" would have to be an artist's rendering, and I'm not that good of an artists. We will cover the "Mooning" scene, but won't show any of the film stills from that scene. If you need to see that stuff, we'll give you a moment right now to Google it.
Go ahead, we'll wait.
Okay, back to the blog.
3. If there's something we missed that you'd like information on, leave us a comment, we'll do our best to answer it for you.
4. If you enjoy history, like we do, you'll enjoy this post. If you enjoy Johnstown history, you'll really enjoy this post. But we will warn you, you might get a little depressed like we did while writing this. Why did we get depressed? Seeing how the city was and the way it is now can make you sad.
Johnstown used to be a happening place. It could be again, but we'll save that for a rainy day, which around here, could be any moment.
5. The movie also had scenes filmed in Hamilton, Syracuse, Utica New York, and Pittsburgh Pa. We're only focusing on Johnstown Pa, which goes without saying, but we said it anyways.
Let's get started. By the way, all pictures and graphics were done myself, unless stated otherwise.
To refresh you memory: Slap Shot (1977) A failing ice hockey team finds success using constant fighting and violence during games. (from IMDB.com)
The town of Hyannisport is shown briefly in the film. In case you're not sure when, it's when the Chiefs' bus, and the fan's bus, drives through the town, mooning Hyannisport's fans.
In real life, Ligonier Pa played the role of Hyannisport. Ligonier is roughly 22 miles, southwest, from the city of Johnstown.
The picture on the right shows the location where the scene was shot, in downtown Ligonier.
On the top right of the roundabout, you'll see a large building with white pillars in the front. That's the one building that can be clearly seen in the film.
You can click on this picture or any other picture you see in this post to enlarge them.
The number "one" in the yellow circle is the city of Johnstown and of course the "two" in the yellow circle is Ligonier.
Johnstown Train Station
The first time we see the Hanson brothers are when they are assaulting a coke machine because "The darn thing took my quarter." Johnstown's train station is located in downtown Johnstown.
Above pictures: Top left shows the outside of the Johnstown Train Station as it looks today. Top right show two things, (1) The yellow line connects the Cambria County War Memorial Arena (bottom of picture) to the Johnstown Train station (top of picture). (2) The blue line shows exactly where the train station is and then leads to the bigger picture. The bottom picture shows inside the station as seen in Slap Shot.
I've been alive for thirty-three years and lived in Johnstown for thirty-one. In all those years, I had never been inside the train station. So, to write this post, I decided to go down and get some picture of what the inside looks like today. It looked almost completely the same, which was great. The bad part? All the doors are sealed shut, and the one wall is glassed up, meaning there's no way inside to the main area.
The train station still operates today, with only one train a day coming and leaving the city of Johnstown, so they have you come into the building via a side entrance. On top of that, they now use the closed off section as a makeshift storage area. The building is beautiful and a part of Johnstown's history, it deserves to be more than a storage area, but at least for now, that's all it is.
This picture was taken through that glass wall they put up. In the movie, Newman walks through the doors to the right of this picture, which means the camera would have been to the left out of frame. I was amazed that the giant wood benches were still there. Below is another picture that was taken from the window in the door, the same door that Reg (Paul Newman) would have walked through.
The station was restored in 1996, and inside this main room, it still appears to be in good condition. The same can't be said for the rest of the building.
Other than the train station, there were two main filming locations in Johnstown. Downtown Johnstown and in Franklin Borough, only a few miles away. The image below shows the two sections of Johnstown. The blue circle shows downtown Johnstown, and the red shows Franklin Borough.
We'll leave the downtown area of Johnstown for right now and head over to Franklin to take an in-depth look at the scenes that were shot there, and what it looks like today, 2013.
We've made a map that takes a screen shot of the scenes we'll take a look at and drew a line from them to the spot on the map they took place. As you can see, they're all only blocks away from each other, but with movie magic, we're made to think differently. If you go back and watch the film again, while looking at this map we've provided, you'll have a little laugh.
In this scene, Reg and Braden walk down the side walk talking "10,000 steal workers placed on waivers." This is right before Braden waves to a girl that beeps at him while driving by. We'll take a look at that scene next. First, this is a screen capture from the film right as this scene starts.
The streets are packed and the huge factory is in full force. We only get to see a fraction of how big these mills were. If you go to this location today and see the site, it's breathtaking on how big the area is. This isn't just the way it looked like for the film, during Johnstown's heyday, this was your average day. So what does it look like today?
Yep, other than the cement wall, and part of the steal fence, it's all gone. In fact, the whole site, except for two or three buildings, has been leveled. In case you were wondering, there are no plans to build anything where these mills once stood.
Van Pulls Up
This scene continues from the last we showed. This is right after Braden waves to a passing car. When Reg asks him who that was, Braden says it's slipped his mind. Enter Braden's wife, Lily, speeding down the road, and slamming on the breaks in her big blue van.
Since this is basically the same scene as the one before, only shot from a different angle, you can pretty much guess what it looks like today.
A little more remains in this picture than the last. More of the steal fencing is still in place, and a couple of the power lines inside still stand.
After picking up Braden and Reg, Lily speeds around launching her van into the air. This is the time you want to watch carefully. If you look at our map and watch were she drives, she's basically driving in circles.
We captured two moments as the van is speeding down the residential streets. The first is when the van almost tips over when it's making a high speed turn. The other is when the van launches into the air.
Just as a quick piece of trivia. The van is coming from a dead end street and if the van would continue straight instead of turning, it would be back at the mill. Oh movie magic.
Now what it looks like today.
One of the biggest difference you'll notice here is that the bridge is gone, at least in the film's location of it. Last year that bridge was moved over, to the right of this picture. The street doesn't look that steep in this picture but trust me, it is. If you drive down to the end of this street and then make a left you'll be at the mill, or at least were it used to be.
Let's say it together this time, "Good old movie magic."
Turn Around and Drive Off
These are two quick scenes in the movie, but we thought we'd include them just because they were filmed in Johnstown. Here's the first, from the film.
Once again, in the background of this picture is the main mill site used in the film. In the upper right corner of this picture is the big brick building seen in the first picture we did a before and after of.
Even though in the film Lily drives all around the city taking Reg home, he only lives about two blocks away from where she picks him and her husband up by the mill. Surprisingly the house, at least the outside portion, is still standing, though it has been updated. I'm not sure if the interior shots of the house were also filmed at this location or if they were filmed elsewhere. In the film, the shot is a little dark but I think you'll be able to see all the important details.
As you can see there's really no difference other than, no more mill, but we've been through that before. Another little piece of trivia, this street is a dead end street. which means, I have no idea where the van was going when it dropped Reg off.
Oh yeah, MOVIE MAGIC.
Well that does it for Then and Now in Franklin, but we're far from done with this post overall. We still have all of downtown to still cover.
Intermission: Right now would be a great time to grab yourself a drink, go to the bathroom, make some popcorn.
Okay. Ready to continue? Let's go. Oh by the way, that popcorn you made smells good.
The State Store
Lily Braden was a drunk and was miserable living in Charlestown. In one scene filmed downtown, she's shown leaving the State Store, which of course is a liquor store. She walks across the street taking a drink from the bottle, which is wrapped up in a brown paper bag.
The building itself hasn't really changed that much. It's still got the same front window layout, and brick work, except it's now an Alpha Printing store, and not a liquor store. The two buildings that stand beside it, though are different then they were in 1976 (that's when Slap Shot filmed, then came to theaters in 1977).
The building to the right is now a bank, while the building on the left is currently vacant. There is some history here that goes further back than Slap Shot. The building used in the film is one of three historic buildings in a row that survived the most well known Johnstown flood, the flood of 1889.
Corner of Main Street
Staying on the same street we get this view of the Johnstown. This is main street we see and is the street were the parade takes place at the end of the movie. As you'll clearly see, this is another before and after picture that's seen some major changes. First 1977 or 1976 if you want to get technical.
Sometimes I wish downtown Johnstown still looked this way, or I wish I could travel back in time to experience it myself. Today, the Rite Aid building is gone (well there's still a Rite Aid there, you'll see), and the Revco building is still there, but it's seen better days.
This is where the team hangs out a few times in the film. After their huge pre-game fight, this is where Morris Wanchuk describes the injury to his noise as having a "deep cut". If my description is not working for you, and you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's the picture.
This is located right across the street from central park. This building doesn't look anything like it does today, but it still has a hockey connection, as the business that now operates out of the building sponsors the Johnstown Tomahawks.
Johnstown Central Park is only one city block big, but in Charlestown it's big enough for three rapes and two murders. One of the things that has changed from the film to today is the statue of the dog. The dog that saved Charlestown from the flood is no longer there, it's been moved a block up the street, across from City Hall.
Today with the dog moved, central park now has a nice water feature in the center of the park. In the background you can see a few places we've taken a look at during this blog post.
Next to the fountain is the park bench where Lily Braden and Reg talk for a while, and Reg tries to get her back to his place.
Yes it's just a bench but I think it's cool to think at one time somebody like Paul Newman sat in this very spot, sure not the same bench but the same "area".
I have a confession to make. The exact bench might be the one in the background, now that I think about it. Like I said though, it's the same "area".
Crossing the Street/ Glosser's Department Store
We combined these two together because, well, they go together. This is right before, Francine tells Reg she's leaving town. For those not from Johnstown Pa, the Glosser's building is to the left of this picture.
Today, Glosser's is gone. Now a small restaurant operates on the first floor. Also in the building is a Dollar General.
At the end of the film the Charlestown Chiefs hold a parade for wining the championship. In the real world, this was a real parade that the film crew filmed got lucky to film. Also a little bit of trivia. The year that Slap Shot was released (1977), the city of Johnstown suffered yet another flood, causing the real hockey team, the Johnstown Jets to sit out the season after the area suffered some damage from the flood waters.
Back to the parade.
This is an aerial picture of central park and the area around it. The orange line is the route (that you see in the movie) of the parade, going from left to right. The Red line, is the route that Reg's wife, drives as she leaves town. Why did we include this? Cause there's some super fan out there who will geek over this. If we didn't write this we would probably have been one of those people.
Below are two shots during the parade from the movie.
If you're not too sure what you see here, or know where you're at, let us help you. Where the trees are, that's central park. If the picture captured just a little more on the right you'd see the Rite Aid building. The car that's in the middle of the frame driving away is Francine, driving off to her new life.
The band in the picture is Johnstown High School's marching band. To let you know where this picture is, to the right is central park. If we followed the band guess where we'd wind up? Did you say the Rite Aid? If you did you'd be correct.
Not seen in this picture but is seen briefly in the film, is a shot of a Johnstown theater that was located downtown that had "Deep Throat" on the marquee. That theater is not longer around, but this is what that building looks like today.
The Park Building, which is the brown brick building in the film that houses the Hello Shop, is still in use today. It's not the Hello Shop anymore though, now it houses the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, and offices on the higher floors. Here's what it looks like today.
Well, we've reached the end of this blog post. We hope you enjoyed it and maybe even learned something. Let us know if you enjoyed the blog by making a comment below or tell us on our Facebook and/or Twitter page.
If you really enjoyed it, let us know, and we'll do the second part about the War Memorial Arena (Then and Now) sooner than later.
For those people who've never seen the arena before, other than in the film, here's the outside today. The home of the Charlestown Chiefs and now the home of the Johnstown Tomahawks of the NAHL.