To anyone who has watched the science fiction films, the serials, the westerns and the innumerable television shows which feature scenes shot in Bronson Canyon, a walk around the canyon is like walking on hallowed ground.
It is like entering the collective unconscious of generations of television and movie viewers.
Unlike other locations such as the Statue of Liberty or the Eiffel Tower which are icons in their own right beyond their inclusion in films, Bronson Canyon serves as the anonymous backdrop - a location which functions equally well in any time - past, present or future - or any place - whether on earth or in outer space. We have seen it a hundred times in a hundred different contexts. It is truely all things to all people.
Unless you are aware of the existance of Bronson Canyon and its many guises, you probably have no idea that you have been watching it over and over again. Films such as Teenage Caveman and Robot Monster have long segments filmed there and the location is clearly identifiable. In other films such as The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956) and John Ford's The Searchers, Bronson Canyon is glimpsed only briefly, and cut together with other locations so astutely that it does not exist as itself. The familiar remains anonymous.
Where is Bronson Canyon?
Bronson Canyon is in Griffith Park just above Hollywood. Take Canyon Drive up from Franklin Avenue into Griffith Park. Soon after the car park an unmade road curves around to the right. Follow the road up the hill and in a few hundred yards on the left is the entrance to Bronson Canyon.
What is Bronson Canyon?Around the turn of the 20th century the Union Rock Company began quarrying crushed rock for use on railways and roads. Bronson Canyon and the Bronson Caves were created by the quarrying process. Operations ceased in the late twenties and the dream factory took over.
To the knowledgable visitor, hundreds of memories may be awoken the instant you turn into the canyon and pass the batcave entrance. In fact a visit to Bronson Canyon could become the closest thing to living a waking dream.
Geomorphologically or aesthetically the canyon may have little merit. It is, after all, just a man made hole in a mountain. However, its closeness to the studios and its relative isolation (off the tourist trail passed only by joggers and their pets), make the site ideal as an outdoor location for producers working on a tight schedule and budget.
It is this almost non-stop use of Bronson Canyon that makes it arguably the most important site in motion picture history.