They Live (1988)

The John Carpenter classic “They Live,” starring Roddy Piper, was filmed in Los Angeles, California. Most of the film was shot around Downtown. The train tracks where Nada, played by Piper, first arrives can be found near the Spring Street Bridge. This is about the closest view possible. To get to this area, head down Aurora St until it dead ends at N Spring St. There is a short walkway there, before you reach a fence and can proceed no further. This is a view through the fencing toward the tracks.

LOCATION: Next to 1745 N Spring S, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (where Aurora St dead ends at N Spring St)

Here is the view of Nada walking toward the city, with the Downtown skyline on the horizon. A tip for anyone looking to visit, this is located very close to the above location at the rail tracks and you can quickly walk to both. Public parking near the Los Angeles State Historic Park is available along Baker St, which sits right between the two locations.

LOCATION: Near the intersection of N Spring St / Mesnagers St Los Angeles, CA 90012

As Nada heads into the city, he is seen walking along S Grand Ave. This same spot is seen in the film “Speed.”


LOCATION: Near the intersection of Hope Pl / S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90071 (facing towards W 5th St)

Nada visits City Hall in Downtown Los Angeles where a man is preaching.

LOCATION: 200 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

The former construction site where Nada seeks work has been completely developed since filming and no longer has any resemblance to how it appeared in the film. The area could be found near 333 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013.

Nada encounters Frank, played by Keith David, at a shantytown in the middle of the city. The area is now a soccer field. The church and the entire section of road where it was located were removed entirely due to redevelopment. Today, the only remnants of filming are a couple of the buildings in the background, which still align.

LOCATION: 1138 W Court St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Here is the location of the Obey sign subliminal message, only visible through special sunglasses Nada finds. The famous artist Shepard Fairey drew inspiration from the film for his “Obey Giant” street art.

LOCATION: 631 S Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

Here is the location of the “Marry and reproduce” sign.

LOCATION: 530 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

Here is the view of the city where Nada can see subliminal message signs everywhere. The location is on 1st St in Downtown Los Angeles, overlooking S Figueroa St. The “No thought” building on the right is the back view of the apartment of Edward Norton’s character in “Fight Club.”

LOCATION: Between 880 – 900 W 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (GPS coordinates: 34.057739, -118.252016 on 1st St, overlooking S Figueroa St)

Nada sees an alien reading at a newsstand at this location.

LOCATION: 640 S Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

Nada sees another alien fixing her hair at this location.

LOCATION: 716 S Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

This is the market where a woman calls upon authorities to capture Nada.

LOCATION: 1216 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90017

Nada visits the home of Holly, played by Meg Foster, where he unsuccessfully tries to get her to where sunglasses to see the hidden messages.

LOCATION: 8634 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90069

This alley, known as Mercury Ct, is where the famous fight breaks out between Nada and Frank over a pair of sunglasses. The alley can be found between S Olive St and S Hill St. It still looks similar to how it appeared in the film and remains a well-preserved gem for filming location fans in Los Angeles. This is the view facing toward W 6th St.

LOCATION: Mercury Ct, Los Angeles, CA 90014 (GPS coordinates: 34.046659, -118.254647)

Here is where the garbage cans were located.

Here is where Nada gives Frank a back suplex off the wall.

Here is where the garbage truck is seen, facing toward W 7th St.

The bank where Nada delivers the immortal line, “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum” was filmed at the A.G. Bartlett Building in Downtown Los Angeles.  The building is currently used for a variety of businesses and lofts.  The property has been seen in countless other films, including “Seven,” “The Mask,” “The Wedding Singer,” “L.A. Story,” “The Prestige,” “Ghost,” “Bridesmaids,” “13 Going On 30” and many more.  This area cannot normally be accessed by pedestrians, so we were unable to match up the exact shot.  However, portions of the inside are still visible from the street in a couple areas through the windows.


LOCATION: 650 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

Parking in Downtown L.A. can be expensive and many of the locations of “They Live” are within walking distance of one another, so be sure to do your research if you plan on visiting, in order to avoid looping back around the same areas.

Related articles: Assault On Precinct 13 (1976), Halloween (1978), Christine (1983), Starman (1984), Prince Of Darkness (1987)

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