Monday after Netflix dropped the final episodes(or as some might say Independence Day), I followed my iPhone’s advice and drove two hours northeast of Charlotte, North Carolina to the city of Durham. I wanted to see in person what I recently saw on my “For You” TikTok page – the approximate location where protagonist Will Byers disappeared all the way back in season 1, which is a very doable distance from me.
I think I should introduce myself here. Hi, my name is Meara, I’m 23 and I’ve seen everyone. The third season of the series is my favorite. I spent more than a little money on Stranger Things merch. I am, very predictably, a Steve Harrington fan.
Maybe you already know– the twins who created Stranger Things and write, direct and executive produce episodes of the show. They grew up in Durham, just a few podcasts away from the Stranger Things lover you’re reading.
The Duffers added references to real Durham locations in all four seasons of the show. Although the fictional town of Hawkins is not filmed in North Carolina – it was actually filmed in the border state of Georgia – real bodies of water, streets and other locations in Durham were marked as landmarks in the fictional town.
Realizing that I could see these places in person, I gathered my iPhone camera and my passion for Stranger Things and hit the road. My visit to Durham ended up involving a slice of pineapple pizza (Argyle approved!) and some very friendly pizza staff. But until then I had to stop at the notorious spot where Will, Kerley and Cornwallis fell asleep.
The tour begins
So, to be clear, the intersection of Kerley and West Cornwallis roads in Durham is not the location we actually see on the show. But the Duffer brothers use the name of that very real intersection.
This is where it happens: In the very first episode of Stranger Things, young friends Mike, Lucas and Dustin explain to Police Chief Hopper that before Will disappeared, he traveled through a street they call “Mirkwood”, which is located “where Cornwallis and Meeting Kerley. ” (If you have trouble visualizing the road at the intersection of the two roads, check out this neat Hawkins fan map.) The audience sees Will disappear not far from this location, in the Byers’ shed.
Will Byers’ encounter took place in prime nighttime ghost conditions, but my visit was in the late afternoon. The green street signs and traffic flow didn’t seem usual, but the huge trees that lined the area could definitely be harboring a demogorgon or two. I felt a tinge of embarrassment as I held up my phone to take a selfie, but I figured the nearby residents were probably used to seeing fans hanging out on that corner. Things we do for Stranger Things.
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Identical twins Matt and Ross Duffer, 38, grew up near this intersection in Durham. Their childhood in the 1990s included bicycles, railroad expeditions and the fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering, according to an interview they did with the Los Angeles Times. (Even though they were born in the 1980s, when Stranger Things famously takes place, the Duffers are undoubtedly more children of the 90s). They made their first film in the third grade with a gifted video camera and have been tackling projects as a duo ever since.
The brothers acknowledged the references to Durham. In a 2017 interview with the Raleigh News and Observer, Matt Duffer said that in addition to “landmarks and street names,” the show featured deeper nods to the grown-up neighbor and close childhood friend. Speaking about the Durham Easter eggs to local news station ABC 11, Matt said that “just as Stranger Things is an ode to the movies of our childhood that we loved, it’s also an ode to our childhood. That’s why we like to do those little screams because really, more than anything else, it’s just about us and our friends.”
Matt also told the News and Observer that Hawkins is a mix of several things, including Georgia and Durham. (“Fictional cities in Stephen King books” and “thrilling scenes in ’80s horror movies” are also in Hawkins’ DNA, he said.)
I reached out to the Duffer brothers for this story but did not hear back right away.
More on tour
After my informal tour began at the crossroads, I set my course for the nearby district of Lochn’ora. The destination appears in season 2 of the show when Dustin, Lucas, Mike and Will go trick-or-treating in their Ghostbusters costumes. We see the neighborhood sign and the font looks exactly like the decorative sign that marks the actual neighborhood. (“The streak seemed to get the script right on our sign,” the president of the Lochn’ora Homeowners Association told the News and Observer in 2017)
I made my list of Durham landmarks by reading summaries published by local news sites and watching a series of TikToks created by a user named Matt. (He went to many places himself if you want a video tour). Several of the places I visited, including Lochn’ora, are less than 10 minutes from Byers Junction.
I made a quick stop at Bullock’s, a Durham barbeque restaurant that has been in its current location since 1970. Bullock’s gets an invite in Season 3 along with “Jordan Lake” – a flip-flop of “Jordan Lake” located just south of Durham (and a bit out of the way of where I wanted to go in the afternoon).
The “River Eno”, which runs through Durham, appears on the show as a Hawkins memento in season 2. Bob Newby mentions it when he realizes that a group of drawings made by Will is actually a map of Hawkins. And perhaps the final hometown nod comes in Season 4, when Murray works computer magic so “Durham, North Carolina” is where Joyce calls when she reaches out to a mysterious letter writer named Enzo.
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After a two-hour drive to Durham and an Easter egg hunt around town, I worked up an appetite. Fortunately, I had a place in mind.
Enzo’s – the elegant Italian restaurant in seasons 3 and 4 of the show – is also the name of a casual pizzeria in Durham. In season three, Joyce sets Hopper up on a date at Enzo’s, a romantic place with mood lighting and a fiddler (we see her get drunk on wine and take some sad bites off a stick). In the Season 3 finale, Joyce asks him for a makeover. But they don’t get the chance when they seemingly vaporize in an explosion later in the episode.
Enter Season 4, where Enzo is the talk of the town – in the Season 4 finale, Hopper admits (live!) that he dreamed about breadsticks and lasagna at a restaurant while he was stuck in a Russian POW camp, and reminds Joyce that they’re on a date. participate.
The real Enzo’s is much more low-key than the one we see on the show, complete with booths, a soda machine, and an extensive pizza menu. It opened in 2008, when the Duffers would have been about 24, so it’s unclear if they were still in town to snag a piece back then. But it’s just a few minutes’ drive from Byers Junction and, according to the CEO, it’s the only business with that name in Durham. This has been clearly confirmed for some Stranger Things fans.
At Enzo’s, Alex Salinas, a 17-year-old high school student, took my order for a 12-inch grilled chicken pizza with chicken, bacon, onions, ranch and pineapple and handed me a plastic soda cup. (Actually, I can agree with Argyle the pizza delivery man from season four – the pineapple is a game changer). When I spoke with Salinas on the Fourth of July, he had been working at the restaurant for less than a week and said customers had brought up Stranger Things on about five separate occasions. There was even talk of making a Stranger Things-themed pizza to satisfy fans, he says.
Salinas told me he recently watched Stranger Things for the first time and watched all four seasons within a month. Of course, he’s already seen the finale and says he was a little emotional when Eddie paid the ultimate price – the death of the demobats – for the good of the group.
“The way he went through actually made me cry,” Salinas said. “It’s a really good show.
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The theme pizza idea is really being tossed around to Enzo’s, says the store’s general manager Steve Howard, although they would have to consider locations of restaurants in other cities. He says he can’t confirm for sure if the Duffer brothers are talking about their Enzos — after all, he hasn’t heard of the Duffers — but he’s happy to see the positive impact the captions are having on their business.
Howard hasn’t seen Stranger Things, but he wants to. His three grown children love it, he says. “Once I can stop working 70 hours a week, I’ll probably sit down one day and watch it,” Howard said. “Or at least start one season.