Where I Stand: Back to the Future’s Hill Valley – 30 Years Later

by Nate "Chops" Johnson on October 21, 2015


Today if you didn’t know is 10/21/2015 – the infamous date foretold on the dash of time-traveling Delorean in Back to the Future. So to celebrate, Nate Johnson and Mitchell Kohen revisit the actual locations in and around Los Angeles where the classic film was shot, for a fascinating look behind the scenes. TS


With the combination of 80s teen heartthrob Michael J. Fox, the warm humor of Einstein-haired Christopher Lloyd, and a DeLorean tricked out with a Flux Capacitor to make time travel possible, Back to the Future hit theaters 30 years ago.

You probably know the story, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) accidentally travels back in time 30 years by way of his friend Doc Brown’s time-travel-modified DeLorean, and runs into his highschool-aged parents. By meeting his parents in 1955, he inadvertently alters the timeline and must figure out a way to fix it and get back to the future before reality as he knows it, both in 1985 and 1955, is changed or possibly erased forever.

This being the films’ 30th anniversary year, there have been several events marking the occasion going on all year around the world from conventions, to special triple feature screenings of all 3 “Future” films, to Back to the Future burlesque shows, to Back to the Future inspired marathons.


Over the summer, one of my best friends and “Future geek” (he has several tattoos from the film and artwork inspired by the film all around his apartment) and I, decided to take a day and visit Hill Valley, to see if it really is “A Nice Place To Live”.

BTTF_DocsGarageFacade01Doc’s garage at the beginning of the movie where Marty played guitar and answered a call from Doc, was just a façade set up in a Burger King parking lot in Burbank, CA.

BTTF_DocsGarageFacade02The same Burger King and Toys R Us seen as he is skateboarding on the back of a truck are still there.

BTTF_MartysHouseCompMarty’s house looks pretty much the same as it did 30 years ago.

BTTF_MartysStreetCompThe residential street outside Marty’s house where Marty, Doc and Jennifer take off into the future at the end of the movie.

BTTF_GeorgesTreeCompThe tree George McFly climbed, and fell out of, to peep on Loraine.

BTTF_LorrainesHouseCompThe Baines home.

BTTF_GeorgesHouseCompGeorge McFly’s house

BTTF_DocsHouseCompDoc Brown’s house is actually a National Historic Landmark and a museum. It’s open daily if you want to take a tour.


BTTF_ClockTowerTravelHighway01Hill Valley town square: The Clock Tower; The light pole where Doc has the wires set up to channel the lightening bolt; The street where Marty travels back to the future.


BTTF_ClockTowerHillValleySquare01View of Hill Valley town square from the roof of the clock tower. On the far right, you can see the light pole where Doc attached the cables.

BTTF_ClockTowerInside01Inside the actual clock tower. It was unplugged…

BTTF_GasStationCompThe gas station is still on the Universal lot.

BTTF_Jaws19CompWhat the theater was showing – Jaws 19.



BTTF_EnchantmentDance03In Enchantment Under the Sea dance was shot at the Hollywood United Methodist Church gym in Hollywood, CA.

BTTF_Tunnel01The tunnel from Part 2 where the hoverboard chase scene takes place. Interesting side note: This tunnel is also used as the entrance to ToonTown in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” also directed by Robert Zemekis.

BTTF_Concert01After our tour of Hill Valley, we went over to the Hollywood Bowl to see “Back to the Future: In Concert”. The film was shown on a giant screen above the stage as the full LA Philharmonic Orchestra played the score. It was an incredible experience to sit down with literally over 16,000 Back to the Future fans and watch the film together. It is on record as the largest audience at one screening for the film!



There was even an DeLorean out front with the time travel mods on display.




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Nate Johnson (Sr. Contributing Editor, Los Angeles)

Nate “Chops" Johnson currently holds more than a dozen competitive bearding titles, including 6, 1st place victories, and 2 for Best In Show. He lives in Los Angeles, and enjoys Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

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