The location: Chino Juvenile Detention Center.

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A.  A jail (for teens).

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. In Chino, California. (But it's not.)

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. In Season one, Episode 1, "The Pilot", when Ryan is arrested by the Chino police, after his ne'er-do-well brother (Trey) forces him to participate in a car theft. His older brother goes to prison. Ryan, with a cleaner record, ends up in Juvenile Hall.

    Sandy Cohen (his court-appointed lawyer) meets him there for the first time, goes over Ryan's record, and asks him about his plans for the future. He doesn't have any.

    As they are leaving, Ryan's angry mother pulls up in a car, yells at Ryan, and makes him come with her. Before he does, Sandy gives Ryan his phone number, suggesting he call him if things get worse. (He does, later, from a pay phone in "Chino".)

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. A former jail for women.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. It is the Sybil Brand Institute, formerly the L.A. County jail for women.

    It is located in East L.A., at 4500 E. City Terrace Drive, in Monterey Park. (That's near the intersection of the Long Beach (710) and the San Bernardino (10) freeways - over 25 miles west of the real Chino.)

    The brick building we see is near the southwest corner of the jail compound. (Ryan is facing west in the middle photo above. In the bottom photo, we are looking south.)

    The jail has been closed since 1994 (due to earthquake damage) and is now used exclusively for filming. It was named after Sybil Brand, a woman who crusaded for prison reform.

    Here is a map link. And here is an aerial photo.

    The view in the photo is slightly blocked by white trucks parked outside the building. Ironically, those appear to be movie trucks & trailers (note the white tent) - they may have actually been filming "The O.C." there when this aerial photo was taken.

    (Note that this is not the same prison yard seen in later episodes when Ryan visits Trey in prison. This is a smaller, less formidable jail.)

    A list of other O.C. locations supposedly in set in "Chino" can be found here.

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A. I didn't. It was one of the few locations I originally overlooked. Fortunately, 'diz', one of a group of O.C. fans from Italy, found it (perhaps by asking the pilot's production designer), and they emailed me (in June 2006) to let me know where it was. Thanks, guys. (Grazie!)

By Episode - By Category - By Geographical Location - Clickable Map - Aerials

THE O.C. screenshots from the show and all related characters & elements are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
All other photos & text are Copyright  1999-2024-Gary Wayne and may not be used without written permission.

Return to