Two years after a fire hit the Universal Studios back lot, they have finally reopened the New York Street attraction. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Director Steven Spielberg, President and Chief Operating Officer of Universal Studios Ron Meyer, and members of the Los Angeles fire department came together to celebrate the reopening.
The new New York Street is 13 blocks and includes famous New York landmarks. The sets include the original main street, a more modern block, Paris Square, London Square, and Central Park. Guests can now tour it on the Universal Studios back lot tour.
"It's better, bigger and more beautiful. The buildings are bigger, better depth and it makes it seem more realistic," Villaraigosa said.
A lot of the credit for the reopening can go to the firefighters who put the fire out very quickly and saved a lot of the back lot, which could have easily been destroyed. Universal Studios donated $100,000 to the Los Angeles County Fire Department in honor of their efforts to put out the fire.
Schwarzenegger, a former actor, called the firefighters who helped put out the Universal back lot fire the "best, bravest, selfless, experienced firefighters in the world." He believes the movie industry is very important to California, because it creates 250,000 jobs, so it was "very important to rebuild it as quickly as possible."
Director Steven Spielberg helped recreate New York Street to "respect the cultural heritage" the Universal back lot has to offer. He was at Universal Studios the day of the fire at 6:30 a.m. and immediately stated that they had to start rebuilding the back lot.
The fire, which struck on June 1st, 2008, burned four acres. It completely destroyed New York Street. It also burned the film vault and the King Kong ride. The film vault is being restored and the King Kong ride, which is supposed to be the most intense 3-D experience in the world, will open this summer.
Universal Studios Hollywood is the largest working studio in the world. 4.5 million people visit it every year. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of movies will be filmed at New York Street, the newest addition to the park.