Porter Ridge Park could officially become ‘E.T. Park’

LOS ANGELES — Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi adventure “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” is turning 40 this year and remains a timeless classic.

What You Need To Know

  • Porter Ridge Park in Northridge was a featured location in “E.T.”
  • Council member John Lee, who grew up nearby, introduced a motion to officially change the park’s name to “E.T. Park”
  • Spielberg’s office has agreed to using the name
  • “E.T.” is one of the top-grossing films of all time

No one knows classic movies better than film historian and preservationist Stan Taffel. Taffel enjoys bringing attention to the movie history right in our own backyards and he recently was in Northridge visiting a couple locations used in the production of “E.T.” four decades ago.

“We can go back to those great film moments, and if there’s a location that it was shot at, it makes it feel not only tangible, but like you didn’t imagine it, that it’s real,” Taffel said.

Taffel’s knowledge of cinema goes back to the beginnings of film history — the days of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton — but he said “E.T.” has also earned its place in the annals of film history.

“The film is 40 years old this year,” he said. “You can’t say it’s not a classic. Anything that lasts that long and is loved for that long is a classic.”

Porter Ridge Park was used for the scene in “E.T.” where the group of earthling boys meet and whisk the friendly space alien away on their BMX bikes, narrowly escaping the government agents.

A few of the park’s features have changed over the years, but the location is still recognizable from the film. One of the surviving landmarks seen in the film is the caterpillar-shaped climbing apparatus.

“This caterpillar is legitimately a movie star,” said Taffel.

Now, Porter Ridge Park could be getting an official name change to “E.T. Park,” thanks to a motion put forth by District 12 Council member John Lee, who grew up in the area.

“I’ve honestly never known any other name other than it being E.T. Park,” Lee said. “As kids, we’d ride our bikes around the area trying to identify houses that were in the film, and so we thought, since everyone calls it that anyway, we should make it official.”

Lee reached out to Spielberg’s office, got his blessing to use the name, and now the motion goes through the steps for approval with both city council and then the Department of Recreations & Parks.

“Hopefully, you know, [we will] do a little fundraising so we can do a permanent plaque there, letting people know for future generations that this was this was the park that was used in the movie.”

For Taffel, who was recently involved in memorializing the Chaplin Keaton Lloyd Alley in Hollywood, recognizing famous movie locations is an important and fun part of keeping history alive.

“I like when people embrace film history,” he said. “I like when they understand the importance of it and you know, as much a part of film preservation is a part of my life, seeing parks like this stay preserved and honored is also equally as thrilling.”