1985 / 1955 HILL VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL
Hill Valley High Location from “Back to the Future”
Located in Whittier, California
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THIS LOCATION IS A PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL, DO NOT ENTER DURING SCHOOL HOURS! Obtain Permission ftom Administration before Wandering Grounds!!
Hill Valley High School! The first time we come across this location in “Back to the Future” it’s 1985, and the place looks like a typical run-down, underfunded school. But not long after we blast into the past with Marty, we see his alma mater in mint 1955 condition! In real life, Whittier High School provided the location. During spring break of 1985, the crew showed up to reshoot scenes at the high school. Re-shoot? Yes, you read that correctly. Originally, Back to the future was cast with Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly, and they filmed on location at Whittier in 1984.
But enough useless trivia! On to the location! At first glance, Whittier High School looks nothing like the location you remember from the 1950s scenes. Pulling up to the front entrance is like pulling up to the fence at Auchwitz. Security on this campus is no joke. And you’ll find more fences within the perimiter fence of WHS. Over the last few years, they’ve been undertaking structural and cosmetic rennovations at a snail’s pace. Often large areas of the campus are closed or fenced off. Now, that’s never stopped us from poking around or squeezing through the gaps of the fences, but legally speaking I DO NOT recommend you do that. Make sure to take all precautions and attain permission before you roam this site. Remember, people can be a little strange about adults wandering the grounds of any school!
Hill Valley High School Back to the Future location map circa 2003
You will easily recognize the front entrance (On Philadelphia). That’s actually the administration building and also the building where the indoor/hallway scenes were shot. The “parking lot” for the dance where Marty “parks” with his mother is NOT actually a parking lot! This will save you a lot of time! Pay close attention to the film and our comparison photos. The site is actually a paved walk/driveway in the middle of a lunch area off Whittier Ave south of the Gym. It is usually blocked from view from the street by new portable classrooms, and at the time of our last visit, industrial sized dumpsters, but if you enter the front gate of the school, you will easily be able to get to this location.
The School cafeteria was also actually used for the Hill Valley High cafeteria scenes, and is located on campus. However, I have been told REPEATEDLY that the cafeteria area is OFF LIMITS to visitors, and have thus far been denied permission to post my photos of the interior of the school. If a STUDENT at Whittier High School could send us photos of the cafeteria and inside the administration building, we’d greatly appreciate it!
The back area of the Dance where Marty gets locked in a trunk is behind the real-life Gym (not used for interior shots) and is also off of Whittier avenue. The strange covered hallway where Marty is chased by Biff’s gang is between the pool and the gym, accessed from the parking lot. This is also usually your best bet for gaining access to campus if the front gate is closed. Many athletic activities go on in the evening during the school year, and so the back gates are open. Talk to campus security or the teacher on staff, and they’ll usually give you “official” permission to go poke around the buildings’ exteriors.
Also, while in the area, Bailey Street, a street you will see while in the neighborhood, is the home of Strickland’s House from Part II, so make sure to visit that page and hit both sites! Use our map, linked up on the left as “guide,” as your guide to the filming locations. It’s clearly labeled and will help you make sense of the disorienting use of WHS campus.
GPS COORDINATES: +33° 58′ 47.29″, -118° 2′ 38.68″