BINGHAMTON

Scene from Walking Distance
"Walking Distance"

Rod Serling button
(Courtesy Twilight Zone Archives)

.

Rod Serling's bond with Binghamton, NY was incredibly strong, influencing both his life and work.  He lived in the upstate city only until the age of 18 but visited constantly in the years to follow: sometimes for official reasons -- to deliver high school commencement addresses, to officiate at local events -- but more often he returned out of pure nostalgia.   Even at the height of his success, Serling never forgot his home town.  Indeed, it could be said that Binghamton -- or at least the Binghamton of his youth -- was a Serling obsession.  This page explores some of the ways Serling was affected by Binghamton, and how it in turn has been affected by him.

Thomas Wolfe warned us that You Can't Go Home Again, but Rod Serling, in his life and art, kept trying.


A VIRTUAL TOUR OF SERLING'S HOME TOWN

(If you're in Binghamton and planning to visit all the locations, you'll need a car, for this covers a lot of ground)


Rec Park  |  House  |  High School  |  Walk of Fame  |  Forum  |  Applebee's


RECREATION PARK

The tour begins in this pleasant park on Binghamton's West Side.   "Rec" Park is the most famous Serling landmark in Binghamton thanks to "Walking Distance," a powerful Twilight Zone episode inspired by the park's bandstand and carousel.  In the story Gig Young plays Martin Sloane, a burned-out executive who returns home for the first time in 25 years, finding the town of his childhood...literally.  Sloane watches as his 11 year-old self carves his name in the bandstand pillar, just like Serling did; later Sloane confronts the boy on a merry-go-round  much like the one in Rec park.

Bandstand and Carousel at Rec Park

Walking Distance Monument in bandstand

Look in the center of the bandstand to see the "Walking Distance" monument installed by the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation.

Sounds: hear Sloane reminisce; hear Serling's closing narration and Bernard Herrmann's haunting score.

Heading out of the parking lot, turn left onto Beethoven St. and go six blocks until you reach Bennett Ave.  Turn left on Bennett and proceed to...

Rod Serling's House at 67 Bennett Ave.

SERLING'S HOUSE -- 67 BENNETT AVE.

Serling lived here from 1926 to 1941, and the street still appears much as it did in those days.  (In 1941, hard times forced the family to move into an apartment on Chapin Street). 

In his adult years Serling was known to periodically visit this neighborhood, like the nostalgic character Martin Sloane in the Twilight Zone episode "Walking Distance." 

The Bennett address is mentioned repeatedly in Serling's Emmy-nominated Night Gallery episode They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar.

Head back the way you came and turn left on Beethoven.  Go two blocks and turn left at Riverside Drive.    Proceed .7 miles to Oak Street.  Turn left on Oak and go through two lights to the corner of Oak and Main, where stands...


BINGHAMTON HIGH SCHOOL

Formerly Binghamton Central High School, from which Serling graduated in 1943.  A  Serling commemorative marker stands in front.  The school has done much to honor its most famous graduate: in the 1990's the Rod Serling School for the Performing Arts was born, offering a special fine arts and humanities curriculum; and every year it hosts a video contest/festival for young filmmakers.  The school's Helen Foley Theater is named after Serling's middle-school English teacher, who headed the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation until her death in 2002.

Serling marker in front of Binghamton High School

Poster advertising Serling Video Festival 

Proceed east on Main St., through one light and over the bridge onto Court St., then through two more lights.  At the second light, to the left, is the entrance to Metrocenter, where you will find...

WALK OF FAME

Binghamton's own version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame is located directly in front of Metrocenter's Court Street entrance.  Serling's bronze star was the first to be installed, and was followed by stars honoring other famous area natives. 

Head one block east to State Street, and turn left.  Take State one block to Henry St.  Turn left on Henry and an immediate right on Washington Street.  You will soon come to the... 

 

Rod's star on the Walk of Fame

FORUM THEATER

In the lobby is the Rod Serling Memorial Exhibit, a large, permanent collection of Serling photos, correspondence, and other memorabilia, some of it rare.  Call (607) 778-2480 for lobby hours.

Forum lobby display
(Above photo courtesy Twilight Zone Archives)

Serling's grade-school diploma
Serling's grade-school penmanship diploma (1937)

Forum display

Forum display

By now you might be hungry.  Head back to State Street the way you came, but instead of turning right on Court Street, remain on State.  You will soon cross a bridge and enter Rt. 434 West.  Stay on this for 3.9 miles until you reach...

APPLEBEE'S  RESTAURANT

Serling booth at Applebee's
(Above courtesy Twilight Zone Archives)

Finish your tour at the table featuring Rod Serling memorabilia.  Toast the man who gave us so many great moments in front of the small screen..


Last Update March 13, 2007

Danville Public Library

Feedback: mboedicker@hotmail.com