The location: The Harbor School.

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

    A. A private high school attended by Ryan, Marissa, Summer, Seth, Luke, and other characters from the show.

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

    A. In Newport Beach.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. Harbor school is seen in virtually every episode of "The O.C.", during the first two seasons, beginning with Episode 8 in Season one, when Ryan (fresh from Chino) enrolls in the private school.  With the exception of The Pier, Harbor school has probably been seen more often than any other filming location on the show.

    Even in the fourth season, after the main kids had graduated from Harbor, they continuted to show the school because Marissa's sister, Kaitlin, went there.

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. The school scenes are shot at actual school, Mount Saint Mary's, a private Catholic college (where 97% of the students are young women.)

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. Most of the scenes from "The O.C." are shot along a stretch of South Bay coast running from Marina Del Rey on the north to Long Beach on the south.

    The Harbor School is the one big exception.

    Mount Saint Mary's is located at 12001 Chalon Road, high up in the hills of west Los Angeles (Brentwood), just above the Getty Center. That's a good 20 miles north of the show's other South Bay locations (and the last part of the trip there involves a two-mile drive up the winding Bundy Drive above Sunset Blvd.)

    So, you won't be able to include it in a casual drive around Hermosa and Redondo - you'll need to make a special trip to see this location. (The nearest other "O.C." location would be Marina Del Rey, about 12 miles away.) And for what it's worth, it's also about 57 miles northwest of the real Newport Beach.

    To the right, you'll see an actual aerial photo of the school.

    Interestingly enough, the director tells us that they originally considered using Torrance High in the South Bay, the same school seen in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Beverly Hills 90210". That location would have been very close to the show's other regular spots. But he wanted something different.

    When he saw Mount Saint Mary's, he knew he had found what he wanted.

    Although Mount Saint Mary's is a private college, they welcome visitors to the campus. It is a gorgeous campus, located on top of a mountain with spectacular views. As you can see on the show, it offers wonderful architecture, and you'll immediately recognize the stone steps and circular quad seen in virtually every episode of the show.

    (Don't worry. It's a Catholic college, but rest assured that no one will try to proselytize you while you're there. So unless you have an irrational fear of nuns, enjoy your visit. But do remember that it is a school, and classes may be in session - so keep it quiet.)

    ( The school soccer field, shown on The O.C., is not really at Mount St. Mary's - you'll find that here. And likewise, the school's water polo pool isn't really on the Mount - you'll find that pool here. )

    Click here to see a .PDF map of the campus. As you will see, most of the filming takes place near the center of the campus, in the circular quad south of Mary Chapel. You park at the school's south end, so you'll have to walk (north) into the campus to find this familiar area. (the small parking lot off the main quad is for handicapped parking only.)

    (Be careful not to confuse this hilltop Chalon Road campus of Mount Saint Mary's with their other campus, on the flatlands near downtown Los Angeles. If you accidentally go to that Doheny campus, you'll see nothing that there reminds you of the Harbor School.)

    Here is a map link to the exact location.

    And here is a link to the college's official website.

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

    A. A little personal history helped a lot. When I was a kid, my aunt Phyllis went to Mount Saint Mary's on a regular basis, and she once took me along and showed me the campus. It's a beautiful campus (with spectacular mountain views) that's hard to forget. I recognized it immediately when I saw it on "The O.C." - despite the fact that the producers did their best to hide the fact that it is actually a Catholic women's college.

    For instance, you know that huge "Harbor School" emblem that you see now & then on the campus?  That actually covers up a large, white statue of Mary (after whom the school is named) - see the photo below. The statue stands between those two familiar flights of stone steps. (In fact, those steps lead up to Mary Chapel...)

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