Scene It Before: The U.S. Bank Tower from Independence Day

The tallest building west of the Mississippi doesn’t survive the ’96 blockbuster
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A sequel to the 1996 hit Independence Day recently began filming in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Slated for a June 2016 release, the movie, titled Independence Day: Resurgence, will pick up 20 years after the original leaves off.

Independence Day was the highest grossing movie of 1996 and easily my favorite of that year. To me it will always represent the Fourth of July and the carefree summers of my teenage years.

The movie was shot in various states across the U.S., including New York, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, and quite a bit of filming took place in Los Angeles. At the beginning of Independence Day, First Lady Marilyn Whitmore (Mary McDonnell) is staying at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel at 506 S. Grand Street in downtown. Jasmine Dubrow (Vivica A. Fox) shares a green-shingled home (that can be found at 6033 W. 74th Street in Westchester) with Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith). Jasmine and her son escape a fiery blast in downtown’s 2nd Street Tunnel, in between Hill and Figueroa Street.

The Los Angeles location most commonly associated with Independence Day, though, is easily the U.S. Bank Tower, which is located at 633 W. Fifth St. in downtown. Tiffany (Kiersten Warren) and fellow UFO fanatics gather on the 73-story building’s roof to welcome the alien invaders. The feelings aren’t mutual—the U.S. Bank Tower is the first structured to be zapped in the flick.

A screen grab from "Independence Day"
A screen grab from “Independence Day”

The U.S. Bank Tower doesn’t fare much better in other action movies. It’s leveled by an earthquake in both 2012 and San Andreas, ruined by an Imoogi in the South Korean movie D-War, and damaged by a tornado in The Day After Tomorrow.

Photograph by Lindsay Blake
Photograph by Lindsay Blake

Standing at 1,018 feet, the U.S. Bank Tower is currently the tallest building west of the Mississippi River, though the Wilshire Grand Center will soon surpass it. The site, designed by Henry N. Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners in 1989, was originally known as the Library Tower because it was built in conjunction with the redevelopment of the Los Angeles Central Library, which was severely damaged by fire in 1986. Funds to repair the library became available when the developer purchased from the city air rights for the space where the tower would be built.

U.S. Bancorp leased the building and it was renamed the U.S. Bank Tower in 2003. It will look especially patriotic this weekend when red, white, and blue lights illuminate its crown this Fourth of July.


Lindsay Blake is an actress, writer, celebrity admirer and Los Angeles enthusiast who contributes to CityThink each Thursday. Her true love is filming locations, and she founded the Web site IAMNOTASTALKER in 2007 to document her vast findings on the subject. For more “stalking” fun, you can follow Lindsay on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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