There are a handful of locations which I have continually searched for hours (okay, days) on end until I found them. The ultimate Madonna video location I have looked for many years was Like A Prayer. While I knew the church interiors were shot at Raleigh Studios, I was desperate to find the church exterior as well as the apartments where Madonna witnesses the assault of the young woman.
I looked at every white steeple church in Los Angeles, no matches. The only hint available was that it was shot in San Pedro. While I had looked at the Mission Maria Stella Maris church many times, it was very close but I couldn't be sure it was truly the right location.
Late one night, I finally struck gold. The "apartments" were not apartments at all, but the Battery Osgood Farley facility at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, California. After some quick checking, all the images matched up and fortunately everything was still intact and identifiable.
But first, as you may have read in my original blog, I wasn't sure about the above church being the one used for the quick establishing shot. It had enough similarities that I thought it was likely it, but still wasn't 100% convinced. Well, thanks to fan, Kevin Petrie, he found what appears to be the actual location for the church located at 205 N Culver Avenue in the Compton area of Los Angeles.
The following shots are of the Battery Osgood Farley area. As you can see, some of the doors have changed over the years, but overall the location is nearly identical to when they filmed in early 1989. First up is Madonna's door. As this is only seen in a few medium and close up shots, it was difficult to determine exactly which spot across the way was the right one, but I was able to line it up from the reverse shot. To make it look like an apartment, they stuck up a few mailboxes on the wall.
Looking in the other direction, the barred windows are essentially the same as they were in 1989, however the doors are different than they appeared in the video.
The stairs Leon Robinson sprints down has barely changed at all...
Of course, any fan has to run down those same stairs...
No tires, but the top of the stair railing is still intact...
The burning crosses were apparently shot on the other side of the location. I can't be sure, but there are still some wooden planks in the ground... could these be the burning crosses?!?
Finding the location for the album photo shoot was a tough one. All I knew was Herb Ritts shot it in a Los Angeles cemetery. I thought it was likely the Hollywood Forever, but couldn't be sure. I went through some old pictures and found one that looked like it had a similar bench:
I did some research and was able to confirm that this was in fact the same bench used for the photo shoot. Like the San Pedro shoot, I have included black-and-white, color, and fanboy pictures.
The cross gravestone is not too far from that same bench: