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Noticeable Changes to the set over the years

Discussion in 'Classic Sesame Street' started by SwedishChefCook, Oct 18, 2006.

  1. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Just to add my own half-cent's worth to the discussion based on my studies of the set over the years...

    I'm going to have to disagree with you on that...

    I've noticed throughout the 80s, various elements of the set seemed to be slightly spruced up over that decade, like for example...

    1. Big Bird's doors were repainted during the mid 80s, even though they had the same pre-1993 color scheme (dark red, dirty green, pale grayish blue, and brown, opposed to pale red, minty green, turquoise, and orange), they didn't look quite as weathered and such.
    2. The carriage house/garage looked a less weathered, as did 123 by the mid 80s; and as ssetta pointed out, those number "stickers" over the garage doors kept pealing off over this period of time.
    3. The backdrop of the brick wall behind Big Bird's nest with the alphabet and number paneling and such was repainted, making it look a little brighter, and I think it was painted at a smaller perspective, as we could now see more of the paneling, that was once concealed by the small fence. This was by the late 80s.
    I honestly believe the reason the backdrop looks to be going uphill is because of the angle we're used to seeing it on screen... I bet if you were to look directly at that particular backdrop from, say, right in front of Hooper's, the perspective would be more realistic, in making the street look longer than it really is. But one thing I have noticed, and wonder if anyone else has, is that it seems like during the years when the set was assembled in the Teletape studios, that maybe the studio floor wasn't completely level, because past 123, it seems like everything does kind lean a little bit like it's going up a hill... I mean, don't Big Bird's doors and such during that period look like they lean to the left?
    You're absolutely right, and it's the same with the tree in front of the tenement building that houses Hooper's and the Fix-It-Shop, though I've noticed that tree seems to disappear more than the one in front of Oscar's can.
    Yes, from 1970 to 1987, the backdrop had two distant apartment buildings, with maybe a smaller building wedged between them, with nothing but a patch of blue sky inbetween them, and the alphabet factory wall... though early in the 70s, there was a group of palmtrees painted on the patch of sky, I guess to give the small bit of foliage in that part a fuller feel, because afterwards, the painted trees disappeared, and we always had a couple of sad looking palm trees dangling over the fence (and this backdrop was originally behind Big Bird's doors on the straight 1969 set). But yeah, by 1988, the buildings were changed: there were three different buildings in a row, and I guess to give it more depth, they added the top of a skyscraper behind them, but we still had that patch of blue sky, until the very early 90s where the additional buildings were added, filling up that once empty space, which I agree, did add more realism.

    Now one thing I would like to bring up, that I'm surprised no one else has... everybody has been complaining about the sacrifice of the fire escape on the side of 123, but I can't believe that no one has mentioned the tire swing... the tire swing had been a fixture all throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, but during the 2000s, it had pretty much been phased out. In fact, by 2002, it was completely gone, except for maybe an occasion or two where we would see a little kid actually swinging on it, but other than that.
  2. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    On the subject of noticable changes to the set over the years, when do you think the set has looked the most realistic (as in you feel it really does look just like an actual inner city street, as opposed to a set on a sound stage)?

    I kind of feel the very late 80s and very early 90s is when the street looked its most realistic... a lot of elements had been built-up and texturized (notice before then, the brick siding on the buildings were simply painted on), backdrop flats were updated, like the commonly mentioned one behind the arbor fence adding more buildings. All the while, the entire set still had the old, run-down, gritty look to it before it was all brightened up for the ATC era.

    I will also say that the set circa 2005-2008 seemed a bit more realistic as well, because of the attempts to re-add the gritty touch to it (scattered leaves, dark smudges on the sidewalks, etc). I haven't seen too awful much of the last three years to give a valid opinion, but looking at pictures, the current look for the tenement building housing the laundromat and Hooper's Store does resemble today's modern storefronts and such, so kudos for that.
  3. mr3urious

    mr3urious Well-Known Member

    Hooper's Store also had a Bell Telephone sign up until 1998.
  4. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Here's something else that has occured to me... where in actuality would the tire swing be hanging from?

    Illustrations of the street in storybooks and magazines and such were never entire accurate to the set, and usually have a large shade tree behind the fence, overlooking the arbor, which is where they have the swing hanging from; on the set, however, there is no such tree, and they actually usually have it hanging from the lighting grid (which I can't imagine would be entirely safe, but I guess it's safer than it seems).
  5. Canadian Fan

    Canadian Fan Member

    I grew up watching Sesame Street in the 1980's. I felt that the set in that era had the most realistic look of a inner-city street, lots of garbage around Oscar's can and peeling paint on the buildings; now the street set has been cleaned up (something I don't think Oscar likes too much). The space between 123 and Hooper's has changed a lot from the era I grew up in.
  6. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I LOVED the way the set looked in the 80s, but then of course, as a lil' one, that was the era I came to really identify, thanks to those My Sesame Street Home Videos.

    And I think just about everyone here would agree that you're right -- I think all things considered, the arbor area has probably gone through more changes than the rest of the set over the years. I prefer the arbor of the 80s, particularly when the set moved to the Unitel studios: by then, the arbor wasn't as small and cramped as it used to be, but still was nowhere near as vast as it's become in recent years, and still had that nice, simple look of a tall fence with a couple of sad-looking palm trees hanging over it, and the carriage house with the pealing number posters on it.
  7. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I remember as a kid, I used to kind of spazz out a little bit during Herry's "Furry Blue Mommy of Mine", because I didn't understand why the arbor fence behind him was so busted up, like someone crashed through it, and did a lousy job trying to repair the hole.

    Has the fence appeared like that at any other time, or just for that number?
  8. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I know I've essentially killed this thread, but I've got to ask: has anyone else besides me noticed that during the waning days of the old-school set at Unitel (the early 90s, before the ATC era) that the arbor looked kind of dark and shadowy compared to the rest of the set? The backdrop of distant buildings behind the fence looked like it was glowing in the arbor.
  9. mr3urious

    mr3urious Well-Known Member

    The studio's name is Teletape, not Unitel.
  10. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    They were at Teletape from Season Two up until 1983 or so, then they moved to Unitel Studios up until Season 25 when they moved to the Kaufman Studios when the ATC era came into play, and they've been there ever since, only moving one more time from one floor of the studios to another before Season 40.

    You can kind of notice because throughout the mid 80s into the early 90s, the set didn't seem quite so cramped, and a lot of the elements seemed slightly freshened up (mostly the painted flats and such). Even later still, by 1989 or so, they started actually building some elements up, like the brick side walls of 123 and the carriage house itself were made of actual bricks, rather than painted to look like bricks and such.

    But still, for some reason, in those final years at Unitel, the arbor just always looks kind of dark and shadowy, with the backdrop behind the fence looking like it glows and such.
  11. mr3urious

    mr3urious Well-Known Member

    Also, about the tire swing: I like to think if it as hanging from a fire escape.
  12. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Okay... but how do you explain the fact that Big Bird has an overhead lamp and fan hanging down above his nest? ;)
  13. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Here's something I've noticed, soundtrack-wise...

    In the early years of the show, it was obvious they tried to make the street SOUND like an inner city street, Caroll Spinney even wrote one time that in those early years, a sound engineer played a record with traffic noises and such over a speaker in the studio, and it's evident as you watch, you can hear horns honking, engines revving, trucks backfiring, traffic cop whistles, even a short occasional siren.

    That continued throughout much of the 70s, though I THINK by the late 70s, it was more subtle, with only like an occasional horn blow, but you could still hear some traffic noises throughout the 80s, but it
    's like by the 90s, especially the ATC era, all that was phased out, and the only background sounds you could hear were birds chirping and kids playing... BUT, it seems like since Season 39, they did a bit of an about-face, and even though you still hit birds and kids, you can hear faint traffic noises again, along with other sounds like dogs barking and oddly enough elephants trumpanting (must be Horatio, lol).

    Also, has anyone else taken this into consideration: the corner of SST where the lamppost stands was supposed to be like a four-way intersection (before Season 30 where that corner was blocked off by a dead-end alley, and the other corner by the Fix-It-Shop was blocked off by the subway station), yet the street sign never actually pointed in the direction of Sesame Street, but rather, in the direction of the intersecting street? I never really understood whyit was positioned that way, but I guess it doesn't really matter.
  14. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I was looking through Muppet Wiki, and found this:


    It seems almost a little disturing, because anyone could be hiding in that little corridor/alley back there, waiting for Big Bird so they can ambush him with a sock full of pennies. Where does it even lead to anyway?
    Bliffenstimmers likes this.
  15. cjd874

    cjd874 Well-Known Member

    I just realized that there's a short brick wall where the wooden fence in the Arbor area used to be. There appears to be a row of hedges or plants above this wall as well. Is it supposed to be a garden of some sort?
    Like many other people, I have also noticed that the famous green fire escape staircase is gone, and replaced by Charlie's Auto Repair (wonder if Grover has worked there?). Not too happy about that, to be honest. I don't exactly understand why Sesame Workshop did that.

    Not to mention the alleyway that stands where the Furry Arms Hotel & 456 Sesame Street used to be. Poor Benny & Sherry...
  16. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    I think the loss of the staircase was due to them moving into a smaller studio and some set changes needed to be made to accommodate.
  17. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    They've been in even smaller studios in the past and the staircase apparently wasn't an issue then.

    Of course, that was back in the days before Elmo's apartment, so that probably has something to do with it.

    Then again, I don't understand why they felt a need to actually build a carriage house by then anyway, it was always, for the most part, just a facade, and even in the years before Season 39, the carriage house building was like half the length that it is now. Maybe they wanted the community garden to feel bigger or something?
  18. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I've recently picked up on something else too: from 1970 to about 1987, the amount of vegetation on the street slowly disapppears as well. If you look at the street from 1970, not only is there a number of trees growing behind the fence in the arbor, but there's also some trees growing behind the narrow fence between the carriage house and 123, and even a small tree growing in Big Bird's nest area - compare that to 1987, when all that remains of any of this are only a couple of sad-looking palm trees behind the fence in the arbor.
  19. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I just recently started noticing something: during the mid 80s, the lattice around the lower landing of the carriage house staircase kept disappearing and reappearing.

    Take Season 18 for example, here's a screencap from Episode 2257 without the lattice:

    Then here's the lattice again the same season (Episode 2277):
  20. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Watching some of the later episodes of Season 24 on YT, you can see evidence that they were already in the process of cleaning up and brightening the set for Season 25: the doors and windowframes of 123 as well as the doors and staircase are painted a brighter shade of green (as well as the remnant of those old number stickers on the barn doors are completely gone), and the Hooper's Store newsstand has been updated.

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