Sunday, August 20, 2006

Locating the X-Mansion

I was never into comic books, so I didn't know until I saw the first X-Men movie that the mansion is set in Westchester. The beginning of the second movie makes it more specific, mentioning "the Salem area" of "upstate New York" -- which technically isn't upstate, although a lot of city residents still consider "upstate" to be anything north of the boroughs (some might even say 125th Street). The movie's conclusion includes a shot of the plaque at the mansion gates, giving the official address of 1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center, New York.

A while back, I edited the mansion's Wikipedia entry to clarify that Salem Center is part of North Salem, the town next to me. It's a good choice of location: the northwest corner of Westchester County has very affluent areas, and Salem Center in particular is more spread out and has large estate-type properties. I frequently drive through North Salem, and sometimes through Salem Center, like today on my way back from Connecticut. Ever since I saw the second movie, anytime I go through Salem Center, I've wondered where the mansion could fit. There's a stretch of Peach Lake Road, from Pietsch Gardens to Vail's Grove, on whose east side are patches of forest in which the mansion could hide. There's another area around the junction of Route 121 and 116, and another on the north side of the Titicus Reservoir near the North Salem town hall.

I recall that one of the X-Men games has a feature of exploring "downtown" Salem Center. The real world North Salem has several clusters of just a few shops each, and its only centralized commercial and civic location is around the post office. It's off the main road (Route 22) and not what most people would call "downtown," but it's not too far from the Salem Center portion of the town. Also, when Wolverine "borrows" Cyclops' motorcycle in the first movie and zooms down the road, that could quite plausibly be down Titicus Road to Route 22, then perhaps a bit down the equally winding Route 22, since Titicus Road itself isn't that long.

Oh yeah, about that train. A station announcer said something about a departure for Philadelphia, but that wouldn't be possible via the Metro-North railroad, which goes strictly to the city. The closest Amtrak station is in New Rochelle, but there's no direct Metro-North line to there from the Salem area. Either Rogue took Metro-North to a stop in lower Westchester, then a bus to New Rochelle (only possible from White Plains), or she went all the way to Penn Station. Maybe the latter is what happened, if we can ignore that the movie's suburban station looks nothing like Penn. And the reason it took Wolverine a while to get there was the %&#@ traffic along the Saw Mill Parkway on the way into Manhattan.

Am I overdoing it? Well, I'm not "nitpicking" so much as examining fiction with the real life locations where it takes place. I still happily suspend disbelief and have enjoyed the movies, the second more than the first, and the third most of all.

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