Scene It Before: Marty’s House from Back to the Future Part II

The El Monte residence McFly calls home in 2015 looks a bit different in real life than what was predicted onscreen
A screen grab from Back to the Future Part II
A screen grab from Back to the Future Part II

In Back to the Future Part II, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) visit October 21, 2015, a day 26 years in the future.

A phone booth in the film

When I re-watched the 1989 flick a couple of nights ago I was amused at some of the things imagined by screenwriters Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale.While their forecast of face-time telephone calls and Google glass-type gadgets were pretty spot-on, flying cars, clothes that dry themselves, and dust-repellent paper have yet to come into existence. What I found most humorous, though, is that pay phones are ever-present in the fim’s ultra-modernistic depiction of 2015, yet you’d be hard pressed to stumble upon one in the current era. Apparently, Steve Jobs and his epochal 2007 invention of the iPhone were off Zemeckis and Gale’s radar. Great Scott!

Another prediction that missed the mark is the movie’s depiction of the fictional Hilldale subdivision, where a grown-up Marty and his wife, Jennifer (Elisabeth Shue), live. Though a police officer describes the place as “nothing but a breeding ground for tranks, lo-bos, and zipheads” in the flick, the real neighborhood, Arbor Oaks in El Monte, is a peaceful spot.

A photograph of the film location taken in September 2008
A photograph of the film location taken in September 2008

Photograph courtesy of Owen Lockwood

The McFly house can be found at 3793 Oakhurst Street. The property’s actual address is stated in the scene in which two police officers stumble upon a passed out Jennifer in an alleyway and figure out her identity by scanning her finger.

In real life, the home lacks a fingerprint door lock, as well as neon lighting, but it has a lot more curb appeal than its rundown onscreen counterpart. The residence and those surrounding it were originally built in 1988, according to real estate Web site Zillow, and I am guessing they were vacant at the time that Back to the Future Part II was filmed, which could explain why the neighborhood came to be chosen for the shoot.

Sadly, the Arbor Oaks community is gated and not accessible to the public, but a Back to the Future-obsessed friend of mine named Owen was granted access back in 2008 thanks to a friendly homeowner, and he was able to snap some pictures of the McFly pad.

Watching Back to the Future Part II today shows how similar 2015 appears to 1989. It’s 26 years later and the world still looks largely the same as it did back then—gadgets notwithstanding. I cannot wait to see what the next 26 years does (or does not) hold. Happy 2015!

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.