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Visit to the Dawn of the Dead Location Sites (Part I)

For those of you who don't know me, I'm one of the regulars on Watching Wyrd and I visit unusual locations for Wyrd News. Every other week I'll be posting photos of some of the sites I've visited. Enjoy the tours.

This post (and the next) has the location sites from Dawn of the Dead with accompanying shots from the movie. The Living Dead Museum will be included in the fourth post. You can see the photos from the Night of the Living Dead post here.

Harry W. Brown Memorial Airfield

Once Peter, Roger, Stephen, and Francine escape Pittsburgh, they fly their helicopter to an airfield to refuel. The location is Harry W. Brown Memorial Airfield in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, only a few miles from the Monroeville Mall. The first photo is where the helicopter lands. The fuel pumps are no longer there (the piping is still visible) but it's easy to spot the location by the landing light.

Off to the right of the gas pumps along the edge of the cement landing pad is where the helicopter zombie attacks Peter while he's refueling and gets the top of its skull chopped off by the blades. This is where the scene was filmed. I could not line up the scene exactly because the fence was in the way.

As Roger dealt with the helicopter zombie, Peter checked out the airport office where he had to contend with two child zombies and the lumberjack zombie. The office is closed so all I could take photos of was the exterior of the building from the other side of the fence.

After refueling, Roger flies the helicopter over the nearby landscape where rednecks and National Guardsmen are hunting down the living dead. This house appears in the background of several of those scenes. This house is less than a mile from the airport.

Monroeville Mall

The next and final stop for the helicopter is the Monroeville Mall where the rest of the movie takes place. A lot of changes have occurred, but many of the iconic locations remain.

Stephen lands the helicopter on the roof. To the left, behind the trees, are the air ventilation units. In the background of the first picture, just to the left of the Monroeville mall sign, you can see the tops of the pyramid-shaped skylights our heroes use to enter the mall.

Once in the mall, Peter and Roger follow a service corridor leading to the generator room. As they switch on the power, the mall comes to life. Among the various scenes of zombies roaming through the building are those stuck on the elevator when it begins moving and stumbling about and the living dead shambling by the clock tower, which no longer exists. This escalator is not the original although it stands at the exact location. The area that once contained the clock tower is now home to the memorial statue to George Romero.

After restoring power, Peter and Roger make their way to a hall that leads to the main part of the mall where they run into the first of the zombies.

Peter and Roger make their way to JC Penny where they struggle to open the sliding glass doors to enter the store before they are overrun by zombies. Penny has since moved, most of the store space has been converted into the opening pictured below, and the sliding doors removed. The two supports on either side of the photo are the anchors for the front of the old store. You can see the right support in the third photo to Peter's left.

Several scenes in the movie take place on the skating rink. The rink is long gone and has been replaced by the food court and the short corridor extending to the mall. In the far background you can see H&M, which used to be the first floor of JC Penny during the filming of the movie. According to a mall security guard I chatted with, the rink was never torn up; instead, the food court was constructed over it.

The next step to securing the mall was retrieving the BP trucks from a nearby site, using them to block the doors, and then locking down the mall. Most of those scenes were filmed at the entrance near the southeast corner of the mall. This entrance would also be extensively used in the scenes where the biker gang raids the mall (which will be covered in Part II). The window on the lower right portion of the first photo, and the far right portion of the second photo, was where the topless chubby zombie was shoving his stomach against the glass.

Look for part two of this post in two weeks in which I show the sites related to the biker attack on the mall.

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