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UNIVERSAL STUDIOS, which got its start in 1912 in Fort Lee, moved most of its production to California in 1915, but its 100th birthday is being celebrated here. The 11-year-old Fort Lee Film Commission has planned a variety of events to mark the centennial and “to make people aware they’re in a special place,” according to its executive director, Tom Meyers.
Foremost among the events is an exhibition at the Fort Lee Museum, “From Fort Lee to Universal City,” in which hundreds of items will be on display, on a rotating schedule, until Jan. 27, Mr. Meyers said. Among the items on display throughout the period are archival photos (including for the 1916 film “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” which had interiors shot in Fort Lee); clip reels from historical movies; and props from the Universal-owned NBC show “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” which has used Fort Lee exteriors in its shoots regularly since 2007, Mr. Meyers said.
A jitney tour on Oct. 27, the same day as a formal reception for the exhibition, will take visitors past a pair of commemorative street signs, unveiled this year, designating the original locations of the two Universal Studios buildings, along with several other cinematically significant sites indicated on a map of some 30 local film-history landmarks. (Universal did some production in Fort Lee until 1925 and maintained ownership of its buildings in town until 1930.) Those who prefer to tour on their own can do so without boarding the jitney — the map is free to museum visitors and also available at Fort Lee Borough Hall and the Fort Lee Public Library.
Rounding out the celebration lineup is “Horror on the Hudson — The Universal Frankenstein Collection,” in which a classic film from the series will be screened each Thursday in October at 7:30 p.m. at the Fort Lee Historic Park Theater.
All events are free.
“What we want is to promote an understanding that the road to the world’s biggest film studio leads back here,” Mr. Meyers said.
The Fort Lee Museum, at 1588 Palisade Avenue, is open weekends from noon to 4 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m.; group tours are available by appointment. Information: (201) 693-2763 or fortleefilm.org.