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Mapping the 1920s Los Angeles Filming Locations of Harold Lloyd's Silent Film Safety Last!

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One of the most famous images in film history comes from a movie that no one but silent movie nerds ever watches: in 1923's Safety Last!, Harold Lloyd hung from the hands of a clock that hung from a set that sat on top of 908 S. Broadway in Downtown LA, and swung into America's hearts. The movie confirmed Lloyd's star status; he became one of the richest comedians of the silent era and built Los Angeles's most ridiculously lavish movie star estate, Greenacres, in 1929. Safety Last!, released on April 1, 1923, tells the stirring tale of an idiot from Indiana who climbs a building so he doesn't have to tell his girlfriend he's not rich. It was shot mainly in Hollywood and Downtown, and many of the places it features are still around today, incredibly, but Safety Last! is set in an entirely different Los Angeles—in the early '20s, streetcars were packed, Downtown was bustling, Hollywood was dusty, and LAPD officers refrained from shooting drunk guys. And so here we've mapped the filming locations of Safety Last! (with a big debt to John Bengtson's Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more) blog, which includes a handy Downtown walking tour among many other resources); it's on Hulu Plus if you want to see it yourself.

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1. Department store employee entrance

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1642 East Cahuenga Alley
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Lloyd foolishly climbs into a truck to read by the employees' entrance of the De Vore Department Store, in an alley off Cahuenga, just south of Hollywood Boulevard, that also appeared in Charlie Chaplin's The Kid and Buster Keaton's Cops.

2. Streetcar ride

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University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089
(213) 740-2311
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That's USC's Bovard Hall in the background, so Lloyd seems to be attempting to ride the K Line, which ran down Trousdale Parkway.

3. Ride to work

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1629 North Cahuenga Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90028

A kindly motorist tries to give Lloyd a ride, only to get a ticket outside a former police/fire station that used to sit on Cahuenga.

4. Ambulance ride

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Broadway & 7th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014

Lloyd fakes ... fainting? ... to get a ride back to work in an ambulance, taking the viewer on a scenic ride through a very busy Downtown. Here they are at Seventh and Broadway.

5. De Vore Department Store

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420 West 7th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014

Many of the interiors of the De Vore Department Store, where Lloyd works, were shot at the Ville de Paris Department Store in what's now the LA Jewelry Mart on Seventh Street.

6. The pal's construction job

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312 West 5th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Bill Strother is working on the Fifth Street Department Store, which was actually being renovated at the time.

7. The pal's escape

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1919 West 7th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90057

Strothers escapes an angry cop by climbing the Dresden Apartments.

8. Beginning of the climb

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Broadway & West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90015

For the "12-story climb," Lloyd actually scaled sets built on top of buildings. He starts on top of a two-story building that used to sit at Broadway and Olympic.

9. The Bolton Building

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226 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

The department store's 12-story Bolton Building was played by the 10-story International Savings & Exchange Bank Building, now gone.

10. The clock

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908 Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90015

The famous clock scene and some of the final rooftop scene were filmed on top of 908 S. Broadway, now known as the home of Tarina Tarantino's Sparkle Factory (it has a Banksy on the side).

11. More climbing...

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548 South Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015

The last bit of the climb and some of the final rooftop scene were staged on the former Merchants National Bank Building, now the SB Lofts.

12. The big finish

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311 South Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Parts of the final rooftop scene were shot on 908 S. Broadway and on 548 S. Spring, but Lloyd first stumbles onto the rooftop at the Washington Building.

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1. Department store employee entrance

1642 East Cahuenga Alley, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Lloyd foolishly climbs into a truck to read by the employees' entrance of the De Vore Department Store, in an alley off Cahuenga, just south of Hollywood Boulevard, that also appeared in Charlie Chaplin's The Kid and Buster Keaton's Cops.

1642 East Cahuenga Alley
Los Angeles, CA 90028

2. Streetcar ride

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089

That's USC's Bovard Hall in the background, so Lloyd seems to be attempting to ride the K Line, which ran down Trousdale Parkway.

University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089

3. Ride to work

1629 North Cahuenga Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028

A kindly motorist tries to give Lloyd a ride, only to get a ticket outside a former police/fire station that used to sit on Cahuenga.

1629 North Cahuenga Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90028

4. Ambulance ride

Broadway & 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90014

Lloyd fakes ... fainting? ... to get a ride back to work in an ambulance, taking the viewer on a scenic ride through a very busy Downtown. Here they are at Seventh and Broadway.

Broadway & 7th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014

5. De Vore Department Store

420 West 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90014

Many of the interiors of the De Vore Department Store, where Lloyd works, were shot at the Ville de Paris Department Store in what's now the LA Jewelry Mart on Seventh Street.

420 West 7th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014

6. The pal's construction job

312 West 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Bill Strother is working on the Fifth Street Department Store, which was actually being renovated at the time.

312 West 5th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

7. The pal's escape

1919 West 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90057

Strothers escapes an angry cop by climbing the Dresden Apartments.

1919 West 7th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90057

8. Beginning of the climb

Broadway & West Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90015

For the "12-story climb," Lloyd actually scaled sets built on top of buildings. He starts on top of a two-story building that used to sit at Broadway and Olympic.

Broadway & West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90015

9. The Bolton Building

226 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

The department store's 12-story Bolton Building was played by the 10-story International Savings & Exchange Bank Building, now gone.

226 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

10. The clock

908 Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90015

The famous clock scene and some of the final rooftop scene were filmed on top of 908 S. Broadway, now known as the home of Tarina Tarantino's Sparkle Factory (it has a Banksy on the side).

908 Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90015

11. More climbing...

548 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015

The last bit of the climb and some of the final rooftop scene were staged on the former Merchants National Bank Building, now the SB Lofts.

548 South Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015

12. The big finish

311 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Parts of the final rooftop scene were shot on 908 S. Broadway and on 548 S. Spring, but Lloyd first stumbles onto the rooftop at the Washington Building.

311 South Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013