Mount Sutro: An Electronic Periodical

617082019
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The Far Shore of Accomplishment

Page 3

17
Saturday, 27 February 1999

Morning Pressures   00:44:27

The Morning After at the Tripp Residence
Friendship Neighborhood
359 South Atlantic Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Sometime after sunrise, Tripp emerges from the house onto the front porch. It is raining but the porch, measuring 296 square feet, has an overhang to provide suitable protection.

Wonder Boys Friendship House Porch Scene
Paramount Pictures

From Tripp's vantage point, one can see to the north a line of porches fronting the adjacent houses.

Wonder Boys Friendship House Porch Scene
Paramount Pictures

Tripp decides to return to his office, forget everything that has happened and work on his book. The long-awaited follow-up to "Arsonist's Daughter" — a critical success that Tripp wrote and Crabtree published seven years earlier — the book has become an unceasing project, so far consuming 2,610 pages of single-spaced type. Outside the bay window, homes at 364 and 358 South Atlantic Avenue are visible across the street.

Wonder Boys Friendship House Office Scene
Paramount Pictures
Google Street View of South Atlantic Avenue
Google

Fast forward through several minutes of dialogue and we get to the first of a few shots out the office's bay window of cars approaching. In this instance, Tripp observes the arrival of a Pittsburgh Police 1993 Ford Crown Victoria driving south.

Wonder Boys Friendship House Office Scene
Paramount Pictures

While Tripp talks to the cop from the front door vestibule, Leer ignores Tripp's advice to hide and slips down the stairs to eavesdrop on the conversation. We see a bit more of the home's interior, including the tiled front vestibule and wooden banister.

Wonder Boys Friendship Pupcik Scene
Paramount Pictures
Wonder Boys Friendship Pupcik Scene
Paramount Pictures

The officer leaves and Tripp, now overwhelmed by nearly simultaneous pressures, makes an escape accompanied by Leer. While walking to the car, Tripp stumbles on the front steps and cuts his hand on the railing. A different railing appears to be in place now and the upper railing closest to the house has been removed.

Wonder Boys Friendship Front Steps Scene
Paramount Pictures

As much as I would have liked to have gotten closer, I am always cognizant of my duty to respect private property when legally photographing from public lands. Moreover, any resident of a home featured in media naturally attracts location tourists like me. Making two quick passes from each side of the street, I took a handful of frames and went on my way.

At the time of filming, the home's owner had purchased the property only a year or two earlier on Monday, 03 November 1997 for $105,000. When the property was sold to a new owner on Monday, 17 September 2012, it fetched nearly 267% more with a price of $385,000.

18
Saturday, 27 February 1999

The Stuff Of Bad Fiction   00:51:07

Acquiring Provisions at a Grocery Store
Schwartz Market
1317 East Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Tripp and Leer stop off at a local market to get some bandages for the former's cut hand. While there, Leer gets orange juice and donuts for his hangover and Tripp also impulse buys a small "thinking of you" balloon for Gaskell.

Wonder Boys Friendship Grocery Scene
Paramount Pictures
Wonder Boys Friendship Grocery Scene
Paramount Pictures

This scene was shot inside the Schwartz Market, once located in the East Carson Street Historic District of Pittsburgh's South Side Flats neighborhood south of the Monongahela River.

Opening around 1927 and moving to this circa 1900 structure in 1938, Schwartz Market was a local provider of groceries to area steel mill families. Morris and Helen Schwartz owned the building and ran the store until 1985, when they sold the grocery business to Audrey and Marty Dorfner and to Donna and Rick Stanton.

Google Street View of Schwartz Market
Google

After eighty-four years of business, it was announced that the Dorfners and Stantons were retiring; the market would close on Saturday, 05 March 2011. Thereafter, "the building was put in the hands of Elisa [and Stanley, the Schwartz's grandson] Beck — [two] of the property owners — and Unity Through Creativity, a non-profit whose purpose it is to sustainably repurpose the Schwartz Market building."

As part of the renovation process, the "market's drop ceiling and shelving [were] removed, revealing a tin ceiling above and hardwood floors below." Officially opened on Friday, 21 June 2013, the Beck's Schwartz Living Market is quite different from its namesake. A food and art market, it features twenty-five vendors of "natural food products from local farms" as well as local arts and other holistic products.

19
Saturday, 27 February 1999

A Little Gesture   00:52:27

Tripp and Leer Stop at the Gaskell Home
Eastover House at Shady Side Academy
423 Fox Chapel Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15238

After the market, Tripp's next stop is to deliver his gift to Gaskell by way of leaving it in her greenhouse. With "WordFest in full-swing on campus," Tripp did not expect her to be there. She is, surprises him and they have a brief conversation about their personal situation before leaving.

This daytime return to the Eastover House gives us a better view of the property and greenhouse interior.

Wonder Boys Greenhouse Scene
Paramount Pictures
Wonder Boys Greenhouse Scene
Paramount Pictures
Wonder Boys Greenhouse Scene
Paramount Pictures
20
Saturday, 27 February 1999

Moments Presenting Themselves   00:55:03

Driving: Tripp's 1966 Ford Galaxie 500
Unknown Location

Tripp and Leer carry on from the Gaskell home toward Tripp's soon-to-be ex-wife's parents' home in fictional Kinship, Pennsylvania. The background plates for this scene are from unknown parts in the hills around Pittsburgh. They show a route by suburban residences followed by a wooded and hilly area with few structures visible.

Wonder Boys Driving Scene
Paramount Pictures
21
Saturday, 27 February 1999

Doing A Little Dusting   00:56:37

Tripp and Leer in Kinship
Wayne Park Neighborhood
145 Wayne Street, Beaver, PA 15009

Parked in front of the parents' house of Tripp's soon-to-be ex-wife Emily, Leer is thoroughly enjoying his donuts while sitting on the hood of the car. The fictional municipality of Kinship is actually the Borough of Beaver, along the Ohio River about thirty miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

Wonder Boys Kinship Exterior Scene
Paramount Pictures
Wonder Boys Kinship Exterior Scene
Paramount Pictures

Behind Leer is the 2.74-acre Wayne Park, named for Major General Anthony Wayne (1745–1796). Beyond that is the Beaver Bridge (1910), a CSX Transportation railroad crossing over the Ohio River. Like many locations on this journey, the summertime foliage all but completely obscures more distant elements like the railroad bridge.

Emily's childhood home is located at 145 Wayne Street at the northwest corner of Wayne Park. Not unlike Tripp's own house in Friendship, this residential location built in 1920 includes exteriors and interiors. As Leer eats his donuts, Tripp is knocking at the door for Emily. He believes that she came here after leaving him on Friday morning, before the film's opening.

Wonder Boys Kinship Exterior Scene
Paramount Pictures

Although it was replaced in the interim, it is amusing to see a wooden porch swing is still hanging in the same spot.

With no answer at the door, Tripp decides that they will wait for Emily inside. Moving to the back porch, Tripp instructs Leer to enter the house through the dog door. It was possibly added for the film and is not present today.

Wonder Boys Kinship Exterior Scene
Paramount Pictures

Leer is a bit trepidatious about this request but eventually complies and then opens the door for Tripp from the inside.

Wonder Boys Kinship Exterior Scene
Paramount Pictures

There were no dogs in sight on this day, but a calico cat was hanging out in the backyard not too far from a cat statuette.

Once inside, Tripp heads upstairs to make a phone call leaving Leer to make himself at home in the living room.

Wonder Boys Kinship Interior Scene
Paramount Pictures

Three large windows in Emily's childhood room, upstairs in the northern corner of the house, offer views of surrounding homes, Bank Street and the home's garage.

Wonder Boys Kinship Interior Scene
Paramount Pictures
Wonder Boys Kinship Interior Scene
Paramount Pictures
Google Street View of 145 Wayne Street Garage
Google
22
Saturday, 27 February 1999

Finally, Some Truth   01:03:12

Driving: Tripp's 1966 Ford Galaxie 500
Clairton-Glassport Bridge — Segment I
Clairton, PA 15025
Glassport, PA 15045

Monongahela River Parallel South — Segment II
Glassport-Elizabeth Road, Glassport, PA 15045
2525-2589 Lincoln Boulevard, Elizabeth, PA 15037

Monongahela River Parallel North — Segment III
2221-2397 Lincoln Boulevard, Elizabeth, PA 15037
2380 Lincoln Boulevard, Elizabeth, PA 15037

Tripp and Leer already driving from Kinship, the first shot is background plate footage of the Mon Valley Works Clairton Plant in Clairton, Pennsylvania. Also known as Clairton Coke Works, this facility is operated by United States Steel Corporation and manufacturers coke, a fuel and additive used in steel production.

From the view of the plant outside Leer's window, the characters are driving north over the Monongahela River by way of the Clairton-Glassport Bridge (1987), officially designated as the Senator Edward P. Zemprelli Bridge.

Wonder Boys Driving Scene
Paramount Pictures
Google Street View of Clairton-Glassport Bridge
Google

During this segment over the Monongahela River, the views on both sides more or less correspond but the crossing does seem to be a bit extended. The last shot we see from the bridge is near the northern end in Glassport, Pennsylvania.

Wonder Boys Driving Scene
Paramount Pictures
Google Street View of Clairton-Glassport Bridge
Google

From this point forward, the view from Tripp's window is less clear but is presumably from the same general area. Entering the next segment, the shot toward Leer shows that we have skipped past the T-intersection at the northern end of the bridge and are now travelling east on Glassport-Elizabeth Road in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania.

Wonder Boys Driving Scene
Paramount Pictures
Google Street View of Glassport-Elizabeth Road
Google

Driving parallel to the Monongahela River across from the Clairton Coke Works factory, the view out Tripp's and the back window should be of a rock mountain wall but is instead tree-lined roadside with a view of the distance.

Wonder Boys Driving Scene
Paramount Pictures

Continuing south on Lincoln Boulevard, Leer's side next shows the factory from much closer.

Wonder Boys Driving Scene
Paramount Pictures
Google Street View of Lincoln Boulevard
Google

The final segment combines Leer's factory view with another from a nearby location. I believe that the background plates for Tripp's and the back window are from Lincoln Boulevard, but in the opposite direction and from a position further south.

Wonder Boys Driving Scene
Paramount Pictures

In this case, the bridge seen is the Union Railroad Clairton Bridge (1893) which carried a single Pennsylvania Union Railroad track to the factory until the 1970s. From what little of the bridge that can be glimpsed, the structure girders and shape generally align. The choice of location also makes sense logistically. But with so many area bridges, it is really hard to say for certain.

23
Saturday, 27 February 1999

I'm Not A Holiday Inn   01:05:09

Tripp and Leer at Howard Johnson's
Belle Vernon Howard Johnson's
4305-4309 Pennsylvania Route 51 North, Belle Vernon, PA 15062

Tripp's Galaxie 500 pulls into a parking space under the magenta and cyan glow of a neon sign for Howard Johnson's Restaurant and Grille and then comes to a stop.

The next location will be familiar to readers of Mount Sutro as I previously documented the birth, life and demise of the Belle Vernon Howard Johnson's in "The Love Parade" on Wednesday, 05 March 2014. Check it out for additional details about and photographs from the restaurant's history.

Wonder Boys Howard Johnson's Exterior Scene
Paramount Pictures

Tripp and Leer exit the car and have a brief conversation in the parking lot. Across the street and hidden behind all of the trucks and trailers is Farnham and Pfile Rental Sales and Service.

Wonder Boys Howard Johnson's Exterior Scene
Paramount Pictures

Leer heads inside to get the two a table. A traffic signal has since been installed on Route 51 at Concord Lane and the Exxon gas station has closed. The Burger King was added after August 1999 as part of the Bruceton Farm Service, Inc. complex now on the Howard Johnson's site, which also includes a bfs convenience store and Sunoco gas station.

Wonder Boys Howard Johnson's Exterior Scene
Paramount Pictures

Opening around Saturday, 14 December 1963, the Belle Vernon Howard Johnson's in Rostraver Township, Pennsylvania was a modern-style "Series 77" or Nims-type unit. Elements of the notable design present at this location included a trademark orange roof and a finned spire cupola topped with a special metal weathervane.

The land and building were owned by Ira Vernon Pfile and Virginia V. Pfile, land owners and descendants of a prominent local family. After the Pfiles sold the restaurant to Donald M. Yoder in January 1998, it was subsequently closed in February 1999 and used for the film shortly thereafter.

The production used elements from across Howard Johnson's history for the sequence. The waitress, wearing a uniform reminiscent of the 1950s style, hands Maguire a menu from the later Franchise Associates, Inc. (FAI) days, the group that acquired the Howard Johnson's brand in 1991 after a lawsuit.

Wonder Boys Howard Johnson's Interior Scene
Paramount Pictures

The 1940s-style roadside neon sign in the parking lot as well as the red neon Howard Johnson's sign on the roof were both constructed for the movie. The restaurant had no roof signage originally and its roadside sign was of the less appealing, more modern backlit variety.

Wonder Boys Howard Johnson's Exterior Scene
Paramount Pictures

The interior scenes mostly consist of closeups off Tripp and Leer talking, so the restaurant's layout and style are not seen in too much detail. Soon enough, Leer's parents arrive to pick him up after having been telephoned by Tripp.

Wonder Boys Howard Johnson's Interior Scene
Paramount Pictures

As Leer's parents leave the parking lot, we get a nice view of the roadside neon sign. The now-closed Exxon is also lit up and we get a better view of the motel sign with a large arrow of yellow lights.

Wonder Boys Howard Johnson's Exterior Scene
Paramount Pictures

Like the other two signs, the motel sign was also added by filmmakers and actually fronts a small building used as a chiropractor's office. It is now next door to the Burger King.

Wonder Boys Howard Johnson's Exterior Scene
Paramount Pictures

Leer again having left his knapsack behind, Tripp decides sit in the car to smoke a joint and read Leer's "The Love Parade" manuscript. From outside, the camera pulls away from the snow-covered car sitting in the glow of the neon sign, a reflection of which is cast upon the Galaxie's passenger window and door. I love this shot.

Wonder Boys Howard Johnson's Exterior Scene
Paramount Pictures

Nothing against the businesses here now, but it was disappointing not to be able to visit the Howard Johnson's for a meal. As this was my final Wonder Boys location of the trip, I was famished and would have secretly enjoyed sitting in the same booth.

I went inside the convenience store to buy myself a drink and then set off to The Back Porch Restaurant in Speers, Pennsylvania for what turned out to be a most delicious and satisfying dinner outside about 400 feet from the Monongahela River.

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