The New York Pneumatic Railroad (also known as NYPR and New York Pneumatic Railway) is the name given to the abandoned subway line running beneath New York City, found by the Ghostbusters after uncovering one of its air-shafts on First Avenue.
The Pneumatic Transit system was constructed in New York City in 1870 and then abandoned for unspecified purposes. One station in the system was named Van Horne was built beneath First Avenue, and was made to be accessed via an air shaft from the surface or via a service tunnel leading from the modern subway system. Its tunnels were sealed up and forgotten by the outside world. At some point, a river of Psychomagnotheric Slime occupied the Van Horne station's tunnels. In 1989, it was later used by the spirit of Vigo, whose spirit was residing in a painting, and the river flowed towards the Manhattan Museum of Art where it resided. In late 1989, on a Friday night, Egon Spengler made a hole in First Avenue then Ray Stantz was lowered down on a wire. He descended into a chamber. He looked around and saw tile work then exclaimed he saw slime. Ray clarified there was a river of slime and estimated 25,000 gallons of slime. He saw an old sign and realized he was in the abandoned Van Horne Pneumatic Transit system. He told them to stop lowering him and keep him in place. Ray got read to take a sample from the river. He activated his Slime Scooper into the river. Ray reeled the Slime Scooper back in. The River of Slime stirred. Tentacles and claws formed. They reached for Ray. Ray became nervous and called out to Peter and Egon. Ray panicked and kicked at the appendages. He finally yelled out for help and was heard. As Ray was pulled up, he inadvertently kicked a pipe as he panicked. The pipe was dislodged, fell, and crashed into a power line. First Avenue went dark, followed by all of New York City. Horns honked in the darkness.
On New Year's Eve, Ray, Egon, and Winston Zeddemore went underground in search of the pneumatic railroad station armed with an old transit map and equipment for detection and collecting. Several manifestations tried to scare them off. While Egon and Ray dodged a Ghost Train, Ray found a hole that led to the station. Egon, Ray, and Winston cleared some debris aside and walked into the Van Horne Pneumatic Station, the exact place where Ray was lowered down into. They stared at the River of Slime. Egon was amazed. Ray pointed out he was not lying about what he saw. Egon was astounded by the amount of negative energy required to generate such a flow. Winston quipped, "New York, what a town." Egon wanted to get a sounding and determine how deep it was. Winston used his sounding line and measured 6 feet then suddenly 12 feet. He realizing something was pulling the line. Ray yelled to on. Winston asked for a hand. Egon went over behind Winston. Ray shouted to get his belt off. Winston lost his hold and pulled into the river. The current carried him away, screaming. Ray and Egon looked at each other then jumped in after him screaming. A short time later, the level of the river rose up to almost up past the archways. In late November 1991, on Shandor Island, Winston found the Slime Labs with Rookie and speculated the Cult of Gozer flooded the city's abandoned subway tunnels with Psychomagnotheric Slime in the early 20th century and it began flowing steadily through them.
Behind the Scenes
The scenes were filmed on Stage 16 at Burbank Studios. The scene with Ray being lowered into the Van Horne station was a combination of a partial set and matte paintings. Bo Welch built a small section (the curved background wall, steps leading down into the station, and a partial platform). The set was then combined with matte paintings by Yusei Uesugi. For the scene where Winston, Egon, and Ray plunge into the river of slime, a partial set of the Van Horne station was used. Ernie Hudson would fall to be followed by Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd. Off screen, the actors would land on airbags. During optical compositing, Industrial Light and Magic merged the live action with their miniature river. The part when the river sweeps them away required more finesse roto work and alignment. Pat Myers had to pinblock a bluescreen element of Ernie Hudson against the background and trace his movement in the river with the subtle movement of the slime taken into account. Sean Turner then animated the rippling edge around Hudson. Soft edge work and composure shifting was done to make it look like the river was enveloping the actors. Smoke was put into the plate, some articulate work was done by animation, and matte paintings of the archway were then added.
- The Van Horne Pneumatic Transit Subway was inspired by a pneumatic line built in 1870 by inventor Alfred Ely Beach. It operated using compressed air and was built as a demonstration of a pneumatic transit system. It was referred to as the New York Pneumatic Rail Road (NYPRR). The one-block-long tunnel was built prior to any other subways in the area, and without any City approval.
- On page 26 of the September 29, 1988 draft and on page 33 of the November 27, 1988 and February 27, 1989 drafts of Ghostbusters II, Egon explains the NYPRR was an experimental subway system built around 1870 that was to use fan-forced air-trains.
- The scene is also seen in The Real Ghostbusters starring in Ghostbusters II #1 on page 22.
- In the November 27, 1988 draft:
- On page 31, Egon hits an ornate iron manhole cover labeled "NYPRR."
- On page 89, Ray measures the river of slime. They realize the river is rising over the edge of the platform.
- On page 90, Egon and Winston try to pull off the sounding line. Ray gets it off but Winston doesn't let go in time and he is pulled into the river.
- On page 92, the River of Slime terminates at the end of the NYPRR into a swirling pool. Winston pulls himself out then he reaches in for Ray. They fish Egon out. Then they climb out of a manhole.
- On page 93, Egon joins the fight asking who wants it first.
- In the Ghostbusters II: Junior Novel, Ray Stantz noted to himself the NYPRR was a shortline railroad in use before the subways. Shortlines are small to mid-sized and are used to link up two industries, interchange traffic with a larger railroad, and tourist transportation.
- On page 28 of the the September 29, 1988 draft and page 35-36 of the November 27, 1988 and February 27, 1989 drafts, the blackout scene differs from the movie. Ray is hauled up but Egon and Peter stop the winch after the First Cop returns with a Con Edison Supervisor and talks to Peter. They don't fall for his phone lines story and Peter suggests a gas leak. They slap handcuffs on Peter and Egon. Suddenly there is a bright flash from down the hole then there is a blackout. Ray utters a "sorry" in the darkness.
- In Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Realistic Versions), some work was done on a level featuring the Pneumatic Railroad and the River of Slime but it was not used for the game.
- On page 18 of Ghostbusters 101 #6, the fifth image is from when Ray was first lowered down from First Avenue and found himself above the River of Slime. Patty Tolan appeared in place of Ray.
- Ghostbusters II
- IDW Comics
- Ghostbusters 101
- Insight Editions
- Egon Spengler (1989). NOW Comics- "The Real Ghostbusters starring in Ghostbusters II Part Two" (1989) (Comic p.20). Egon says: "The New York Pneumatic Railway. It was an experimental subway system. Fan-forced air trains built around 1870."
- Ray Stantz (1999). Ghostbusters II, Chapter 8: Down the Shaft (1989) (DVD ts. 24:19-24:25). Columbia Pictures. Ray Stantz says: "Van Horne. Pneumatic Transit. I can't believe it! It's the old pneumatic transit system."
- Spook Central "California"
- Eisenberg, Adam (November 1989). Ghostbusters Revisited, Cinefex magazine #40, page 9. Cinefex, USA. Line reads: "For shots of Ray being lowered into the station, and later scenes with the Ghostbusters on the set, Welch built only a small section of the setting--a curved background wall, steps leading down into the station and a partial platform. This set piece was subsequently combined with matte paintings of the rest of the station rendered by Yusei Uesugi and with a miniature representing the river of slime."
- Eisenberg, Adam (November 1989). Ghostbusters Revisited, Cinefex magazine #40, page 26, 28. Cinefex, USA. Line reads: "To create the illusion of the Ghostbusters plunging into an imaginary river of slime, Hudson was first filmed falling off the station platform on the partial Van Horne set. Then Aykroyd and Ramis followed suit. Out of view of the camera, the actors landed on slime-free airbags and remained perfectly dry. Later in optical they were combined with ILM's miniature slime river. "The scene where Winston was being carried off down the river of slime required some incredibly difficult roto work and alignment," Tom Bertin recalled. "It was hard to get all the pieces to jibe exactly and to make the motion convincing. With Winston, for instance, Pat Myers had to pinblock a bluescreen element of Ernie Hudson against the background and trace what would be his logical movement in terms of direction and distance. He also had to take into account subtle plays in the slime river in areas where it arched and fell away. It was quite a difficult order, but somehow he did it. He was able to work with every one of those bumps and surface undulations. He also created every bit of Winston's motions in the river--his head bobbing up and down and moving from side to side. Then Sean Turner had to animate a rippling edge around him. In the wrong hands, that could have been disastrous, but Sean did a great job--Winston fits right in there." "The slime was supposed to look like living energy," added optical team member John Ellis. "It was not liquid so much as it was textured soup, so we did not have to create a splash when the guys fell in. Optically, it was a little tough getting them into the slime. We had to do some soft-edge work and a little exposure shifting so that they would look like they were being enveloped. We also had to shift the exposure of the characters slightly so that they would take on the character of the slime itself before they disappeared into it. In addition, we put smoke into the plate, some nice articulate work done by animation and some wonderful matte paintings of the archway." The Ghostbusters finally escape from the river and emerge through a manhole right in front of the Manhattan Museum of Art."'
- Wikipedia Article about Alfred Ely Beach
- Wikipedia Article about the New York and Putnam Railroad
- Van Hise, James (October 1989). "The Real Ghostbusters Starring in Ghostbusters II" No. 1, p. 22, panel 4. NOW Comics, Chicago IL USA.
- Naha, Ed (June 4, 1989). "Ghostbusters II" Mass Market Paperback, p. 48. Dell. ISBN 0440204607.
- Ghostbusters II: Junior Novel, Pages 24-25
- Shortline Wikipedia Article
- Ghostbusters News 3/17/2010
- Slime Tunnel -deviantArt User:Kuren 4/19/10
- Narrator (2016). Insight Editions- "Tobin's Spirit Guide" (2016) (Book p.64). Paragraph reads: "A veritable river of the stuff had built up over the years in one of New York's many abandoned subway tunnels, a byproduct of the high amount of spectral energy ever present in the metropolitan area. (It is our supposition that only the positivity brought in through the tourist trade and professional sporting victories has kept Manhattan from being consumed and destroyed in a flood of burning ectoplasm)."