True Detective Filming Locations (Season 2) (Episode 1)

Episode 7

The actual Southern California locations where
"True Detective" was filmed.

Episode 1  -  Episode 2  -  Episode 3  -  Episode 4
Episode 5  -  Episode 6  -  Episode 7  -  Episode 8

In Season 2, "True Detective" uses a number of establishing shots to show us a gritty view
of  the fictional
industrial city of Vinci, California, where most of the action takes place.

So, let's get those establishing shots out of the way first...

They start out at 9:54 with an aerial shot of the City of Vinci water tower.

In reality, this is actually the City of Vernon water tower. They simply changed the sign.

This water tower located just behind (east of) Vernon's Fire Station #3,
which is at
2800 S. Soto Street, in Vernon, California.
  (The camera is looking north.)

The city of Vernon is located about three miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
It provides many of the locations on this show, and some would say, it was the
inspiration for the corrupt city of Vinci.

The large white building seen in front of the tower, in the photo above, houses
the Pilot Water Tower Cold Storage, at
2820 S. Soto Street.

Here is a Google StreetView of the water tower.


At 10:01, we see this steamy shot of Vinci:

This, and the two next industrial photos seen below were shot at the same power plant:
the Malburg Generating Station, at 2715 E. 50th Street, in Vernon, CA -
(they were simply shot from different angles and distances):

The first shot (above) is an aerial view of the Malburg plant, looking northwest.  The street running
in front is E. 50th Street, ending at Seville Avenue to the west. The slim water tower you
see in the distance is located (just east of) 4600 S. Santa Fe Ave, in Vernon.

The shot below is of the same
Malburg power plant, only it shows the
towers & machinery located just east of that main building:

Here is a matching Google Earth shot of the plant.

While the shot below is simply a shot of those same two smokestacks, only taken
with the camera looking up at them from below, on 50th Street:


They then shifted to a different location for this establishing shot seen at 16:39:

 In fact, technically, they are no longer in Vernon, although they are only three blocks
  north of its city limits.  (The Vernon water tower can be glimpsed in the distance).

The large flat building in the foreground, with the yellow pipes at one end.
is located at 1614 Perrino Place, in Los Angeles.
(It's home to Ecullet, a glass maker/recycler.)

The camera is looking southwest.

The building with a touch of red on it, next door, is 1625  Perrino Place.
The bridge/trestle in the background spans the L.A. River, just south of Washington Blvd.

Here is a matching Google Earth view of the spot.
And here is a more down-to-earth StreetView.


And they downright "cheated" for this establishing shot of Vinci, seen at 16:39:

(...if one can be accused of cheating in a business where fooling the public
about what they're seeing is often the whole point of the job.)

This is nowhere near Vernon.  In fact, they traveled some 15 miles south, to the City of Carson, CA.
I suspect they were attracted by the large American flag seen on this refinery.)

This is actually the Tesoro Refinery, at 2350 E. 223rd Street,
just south of the San Diego (405) Freeway, in Carson.

The camera is looking south from the corner of WIlmington Blvd & 223rd Street.
The waterway on the right is the Dominguez Channel.

Here's a Google StreetView of that flag as seen from Wilmington Blvd, in Carson.

And here is a matching Google Earth aerial view.


And then there are those freeway interchange shots.  (They love those on this show.)

We see one freeway interchange at 21:19:

This is the interchange of the 405 (San Diego) Freeway and the 118 (Ronald Reagan) Freeway,
in the Granada Hills / Mission Hills section of the northern San Fernando Valley.

The camera is looking south, right down the 405, from just north of the 118.

Here is a matching Google Earth aerial view.

And here's a Google StreetView of what it looks like driving south on the 405 there.


While that 405/118 exchange (above) is a fairly simple one (by L.A. standards),
the freeway interchange shown over the opening credits (below) is far more complex:

This monster cloverleaf is the interchange of
the Harbor (110) Freeway and the Century (105) Freeway.

The Harbor Freeway links downtown Los Angeles with the L.A. Harbor to the south.
The Century Freeway leads west to Los Angeles International Airport.

The camera is looking northwest (and almost straight down).

Here is a matching Google Earth aerial view.

And here's a Google StreetView of what it
looks like driving north on the 110 there.


Now that we've got those establishing shots out of the way, let's move on
to some actual filming locations from the first episode...

At 02:20, as the episode opens, we see Ray Velcoro dropping off
his son, Chad, at Mount Gabriel Elementary School

The boy seems uncomfortable around his father, and it isn't until later that we learn why.

At 36:07, we see the school again, only this time Ray finds out that his son is
being bullied at school, and he flies into a rage, demanding that his son
identify the kid bullying him, and threatening him when he hesitates.

We also learn that Chad is staying with his mother and her new husband,
and (later) that Ray may not even be the boy's real father, since his
mother was raped by a man that Ray apparently killed.

This was shot at Torrance Elementary School,
at 2125 Lincoln Ave, in Torrance, CA.

This scene was filmed on the south side of the school, on a road / parking lot
that is basically an extension of the west end of Lincoln Ave.

For the uninitiated, Torrance is a mostly residential city in the South Bay region.
The South Bay is about 15 miles southwest of Los Angeles, and includes the
beach communities of Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach,
and the Palos Verdes hills.

This location is about four miles inland from (east of) the beach at Redondo.

( This same school is seen again in the final episode of the show, when
Ray's decision to see his son again proves to be a fatal mistake. )

Here is a Google StreetView of the school.


At 05:53, there is a flashback scene, where we are introduced to the two key characters:
'Frank' (played by Vince Vaughn) and 'Ray' (played by Colin Farrell).

In the scene, Ray enters a dark club, and finds Frank sitting at the bar.

Ray has come to get information from Frank about the guy who raped his wife.

Frank gives him a name, along with a vague hint that
he might
eventually want something in return.

Sure enough, 20 years later, Ray is on the take from Frank,
taking orders and beating people up who upset the City of Vinci.

This flashback scene was shot inside a bar/nightclub known as La Zona Rosa,
at 1010 E. Cesar Chavez Avenue, in East L.A.

Look carefully at the scene where Ray walks into the bar, and on the floor
you can see the same round symbol that is also on the La Zona Rosa sign.

Here is a Google StreetView of the place,


Frank is a former mobster, turned casino owner, in an effort to go legit.

But his lifestyle has obviously made him rich.  We see his house at 08:39:

And it's a very nice, very expensive place, a modernist mansion, perched on a hilltop.

This is 22035 Saddle Peak Road, in the Topanga hills above Malibu, CA.

The 4,293 square-foot house is known as "The Von Hagen Residence",
and sits on 13 acres of land. It was designed by the architect team of
John Kelsey & Thornton Ladd, who created the Norton Simon Museum.

It was listed for sale recently at $6 million.

Here are some photos of the home:

[ Warning: This is a private home.  Do not trespass on their property,
knock on their door, or do anything that might disturb the residents.

Here is a Google StreetView of the road leading up to the house.


At 10:08, we see Frank's "Vinci Gardens Casino".

This is actually the Normandie Casino, a card club at
1045 W. Rosecrans Ave, in Gardena, CA.

The casino opened back in 1940, and for a long time it was the only
club in Los Angeles County where you could gamble legally.

The 'Vinci Gardens' sign you see on top is fake, of course.  The real casino
doesn't have a sign on top (just a big one out by the street).

The Interior scenes were also shot here (at least some of them).

Here is a Google StreetView of the Normandie Casino.


But later, at 56:50, we see another shot of the casino's exterior,
and that one is definitely NOT in Gardena:

I found the first casino rather quickly, but trying to find this
second version was ridiculously difficult.

I checked every gambling casino in the L.A. area, and none of them matched.
I began to think that it wasn't a casino at all, just some other kind of
building dressed up to look like one...

Then I noticed a small blue Honda sign in the distance, and realized that there
was a Honda dealership right next door to the location.  I also noticed
that it seemed to be right next to a freeway.

So, I began looking at every Honda dealership in L.A., but I still didn't find it.

Eventually, I went to the Honda website, and got their official list of dealerships.

After looking in vain at dozens of them, I finally found it near the bottom
of that Honda list.  To my surprise, it wasn't in L.A. - it was way up in Ventura, CA.

This turned out to be the Player's Casino, at 6580 Auto Center Drive, in  Ventura.
(To tell the truth, I had never heard of the place.)

Ventura, in case you don't know, is about 70 miles northwest of Los Angeles,
and about 40 miles west of the Malibu Pier.

Here is a Google StreetView of the Players Casino.


More "True Detective" Locations! Just click below.


The photos on this page are stills from "True Detective - Season 2"
(which you can buy by clicking here) and are copyright Showtime.

The rest of the page is Copyright  1999-2024-Gary Wayne /