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In the 1920's Ivo Shandor was trying to bring about the end of the world and apparently, at that time: failed.

Spengler: It's not the girl, Peter, it's the building. Something terrible is about to enter our world, and this building is obviously the door. The architect's name was Ivo Shandor. I found it in Tobin's Spirit Guide. He was also a doctor. Performed a lot of unnecessary surgery. And then in 1920, he started a secret society. After the First World War, Shandor decided that society was too sick to survive. And he wasn't alone; he had close to a thousand followers when he died. They conducted rituals up on the roof, bizarre rituals intended to bring about the end of the world, and now it looks like it may actually happen!

Fast-forward to 1984 - there is clearly some measure of ghostly activity already in previous years because the three ghostbusters are already interested and investigating how to catch and contain ghosts, however, it is only because of an increase in ghostly activity that they are able to finally do so (thanks to the readings they were able to get from the library incident).

Why, in 1984, was there a sudden uptick in spectral phenomenon, specifically the possession of Dana Barrett and the opening of "Spook Central" - what caused/instigated these events?

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    Linear time as perceived by feeble mortals is of no relevance to Gozer the Gozerian. Aug 7 '17 at 14:54
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    @RoyalCanadianBandit or he was just taking a nap... Now more to the point, the text in the question does not mean that the building was built in the 20s, it could be considerably later (starting an end-of-world-cult and getting the resources and research needed to build the building can take some time, I am speaking from experience here). It could have been built well into the 50s or 60s...
    – SJuan76
    Aug 7 '17 at 15:38
  • @SJuan76 - Egon references that Shandor was an architect. Also, given the art deco design of the building, one can assume an overall understanding that the building was indeed built by Shandor in the 20's for his extra-dimensional plans. Egon says Shandor was an architect, that he founded a secret society in the 20's and that they conducted rituals on the roof. There is no reason to assume anything other than the building being built in / around the 20s. IRL - 55 Central Park West was built in 1929: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/55_Central_Park_West
    – NKCampbell
    Aug 7 '17 at 15:47
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    As a totally non-canon contribution to this issue, if I were building a locked portal to keep an unwanted god out of my pet dimension, I would wire in some delay mechanisms so that no single generation of my pets could open the lock. A delay of 60 years would serve pretty well in this capacity. It would also allow time for some of Shandor's followers to sire suitable human hosts for the gatekeeper and the keymaster. Aug 7 '17 at 20:26
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This isn't clear in the original movie.

In the video game 'Ghostbusters: The Video Game' (which Dan Aykroyd says is the third movie, and follows the plotline which they had intended for it) we learn a little bit more.

Shandor, the architect of the building, founded a Gozer worshipping cult in the 1920s, after the first world war convinced him humanity was beyond saving.

A major project of his (supported by his cult) was the creation of the 'spiritual antenna' built into Dana's apartment building. This building, alone, focused spiritual power and was the site of Gozer's first attempt at entry into our world in modern times. It should be noted that the building itself seems to posses the traits of enhancing spiritual energy and serving as a focus for it. Once construction was completed, the eventual opening of the portal to Gozer's realm was likely inevitable (presuming the building stayed intact).

It is likely that Shandor and his followers tried to channel power into the building to quicken this process, but they evidently failed. Tobin's Spirit Guide would not have mentioned them if they had not been discovered (and, presumably, stopped).

As part of their attempts, they created Mandalas across New York (to breaking/closing of which is a major focus of the video game). These are capable of focusing spiritual power on a location, and increase the ease with which ghosts nearby can interact with the material world. They are noted in the linked wiki as being similar to the antenna of Dana's building.

Thus, even without Shandor and his cult continuing their efforts to actively end the world, the building itself was a ticking time bomb. This is consistent with what we see in the movie: the world has been actively getting more paranormal, with ghost sightings increasing and more and more data being collected on them. The people who followed in the footsteps of Tobin and his ilk, whomever they may have been, would have been alerted to this, and hopefully found a way to prepare themselves to resist the end.

It is just New York's luck that these people happened to be the Ghostbusters. They were able to get the data they needed to build their equipment due to the increased activity spurred by the building - it wasn't a coincident.

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To be honest-the answer didn't seem to be in the movie. There is a possible answer in the second film-The slime built up in the sewers would probably have been building up for some time. It wasn't until the ectoplasm had reached a level that could conjure the spirits being seen that the ghosts in 1984 started showing up. Which in-turn might have signaled the God Gozer that Earth was ready for a reaping.

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    The ectoplasmic mood slime was being drawn out of the people of New York and toward Vigo. It wasn't there to begin with (I don't think).
    – Valorum
    Aug 7 '17 at 16:45
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    i agree w /you @Valorum - though, the storyline of the Ghostbusters Video Game (which is considered canon I believe) lends itself to some ambiguity in that area, in that Shandor is said to have worked on the slime tunnels...so (shrug) - it could be possible, but I'm not terribly familiar w/ post G2 materials
    – NKCampbell
    Aug 7 '17 at 17:08
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    @NKCampbell - The Wiki seems to assume canonicity by franchise. Everything's canon except the cartoons which are just a bonkers madness
    – Valorum
    Aug 7 '17 at 17:20
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    from a certain point of view though - the cartoons are the "real" canon - since the cartoon characters visit the set of the 1984 film and reference Murray, Akroyd, and Ramis - youtube.com/watch?v=U8YfHm9l3_s :D
    – NKCampbell
    Aug 7 '17 at 17:39
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    IMDB does give writing credit for the video game to Aykroyd and Ramis, among others, not sure in how large a capacity though
    – Dpeif
    Aug 7 '17 at 19:35

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