40 years after the blockbuster movie, ‘E.T. Park’ in Porter Ranch could become official

Two girls play
Sisters Carmen, left, and Sylvie Hawks play at Porter Ridge Park, known to locals as “E.T. Park,” after part of the 1982 Steven Spielberg classic was filmed there.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

To Porter Ranch locals, the hillside area off Reseda Boulevard is already known as “E.T. Park,” after the movie “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” The 1982 blockbuster was shot throughout the San Fernando Valley, including at the 4.5-acre park.

Now, four decades after the movie’s release, the city is taking steps to make the park’s nickname official. A City Council committee on Tuesday backed a proposal to rename Porter Ridge Park as E.T. Park, sending it to the full council.

Director Steven Spielberg sought out the tract-house setting of the Valley for “E.T.” because it reminded him of the Phoenix suburb where he grew up, The Times reported in 1985.


The Porter Ranch park is featured in a scene in which a group that includes E.T. and Elliott, the boy who befriends the alien, escapes federal agents. One of the park’s climbing structures — a spindly caterpillar with big eyes — can be seen in the film.

Other San Fernando Valley locales featured in the movie include White Oak Avenue in Granada Hills, where Elliott, E.T. and others escape on bikes, and a Tujunga residence, where Elliott and his family live.

City Councilmen John Lee and Bob Blumenfield, who represent Valley neighborhoods, introduced the motion to change the park’s name.

A visitor gets a close-up of "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

“I think the whole community refers to it as E.T Park, and this is just making it official,” Lee said at Tuesday’s committee meeting. “Mr. Spielberg has given us the permission to use it, that name.”

Cathy Koo, who lives across the street from the park, said the original mailbox in front of her house can be seen in the movie. (She didn’t live in the house at the time.)


“When people ask me where I live, I say, ‘Right across from E.T. Park,’” she said, adding that she has watched the movie with her two children.

Over the years, equipment at the park has been replaced, including a sand pit that attracted rattlesnakes, Koo said. However, the caterpillar that had a cameo in the movie remains.

“I think it’s cool,” said Ryan Martin, of the proposed name change. Martin, who was at the park Tuesday with his 3-year-old son, said the location is known in his house as “Caterpillar Park.”

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the committee backed a proposal to rename the Venice Pier as Ruth Galanter Venice Pier. Galanter, who served on the City Council from 1987 to 2003, represented the Westside and the east San Fernando Valley.