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I've just rewatched Blade (1998), and I'm trying to figure out which city this movie is set in, which it never clearly states. It has been some time since I listened to the director's commentary, and I do not remember any mention of that.

Here are the clues I could find:

Probably somewhere in the contiguous United States, in a city with skyscrapers, and a subway.

The movie was shot in Los Angeles, but that doesn't necessary mean it takes place in Los Angeles. In lots of other productions scenes can be shot in one city, but diegetically take place somewhere else. Even the last minute of Blade itself takes place in Moscow, and I am pretty sure they did not go to Moscow for that one scene.

Currently Wikipedia also says "begins in a Los Angeles nightclub", but I doubt they have a good source for that location.

In the very beginning we see Vanessa Brooks' Drivers'License, which says Braxton, FL 90032. Although this could mean that the intro takes place in Braxton, Florida, or she just got her licence there, and does not mean the bulk of the movie takes place there, especially as Blade & Whistler mention that they move around a lot.

There is apparently a Map of New Orleans visible at some point, but I doubt it means this is supposed to take place in New Orleans, as then there should be some further visual hints of the environments. Interview with the Vampire, e.g., made sure to show the unique details of that city. The map could also be a generic map prop, and not necesarily show the actual city.

When Frost kills the vampire elder with a sunrise he goes to the coast (of the ocean, presumably, or a giant lake), and they watch the sunrise. Which it should from the East, which means their city should have the ocean or a great lake to the east of it. Although this could also probably be an overlooked detail.

Then there is the vampire-temple, which might indicate that at some point in the past there was a major population centre in that spot, although this is a very fuzzy argument.

I always felt the city was supposed to be Detroit, with its large decrepit factories, and with Blade's muscle-car being maybe a nod to it, although this is probably just conjecture on my part.

The only detail I am sure of is that Officer Krieger (the vampire familiar cop) has a patch that says Center City Police. I think this is supposed to be a fictional city, similar to how Metropolis or Gotham are fictional settings for movies. But I cannot find any other reference to that in the movie, or through a quick websearch.

Does anybody have any definitive source? Or am I just really overthinking this? :P

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    I looked to the comics for a clue, but Blade's origin is quite different there from the movies (he was born in London in 1929) - he did spend some time in Boston, though.
    – HorusKol
    Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 0:59
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    For me the police badge is crucial. It was a made prop and obviously indicates that the film is set in a fictional city. If you hadn't already mentioned it, I was going to post that as an answer to the question asked.
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 2:40
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    "Does anybody have any definitive source? Or am I just really overthinking this?" — Both of these things can be true, but overthinking fictional works is what we do here 👌 Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 12:27
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    @PaulD.Waite I see I have come to the right place to discuss this ;) Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 13:08

2 Answers 2

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If you go by the patch on Officer Krieger's police jacket, then the answer is clearly Center City.

As far as I can tell, there's no such thing as a Center City Police Department in the real world, so it's unclear if this is a reference to the real life Center City in Philadelphia -- which falls under the jurisdiction of the Philadelphia Police Department -- or something made up for the movie.

enter image description here

If you leave the patch to one side, other clues suggest the film is set in New York.

Firstly, as you pointed out, there's a scene on what appears to be a coastline, with the Sun rising over the ocean, which suggests the scene takes place on the east coast of the US (assuming they're in the US to begin with).

Secondly, when Krieger introduces himself to Karen Jenson, he mentions that he's assigned to the "42nd precinct", which corresponds to a precinct in New York City.

KAREN: What are you doing in here?

KRIEGER: I'm just here on a routine check. Look, I'm Officer Krieger, 42nd Precinct. You're Karen Jenson, right?

Blade (1998)

There's also a 42nd precinct in Chicago, however the screenplay clearly indicates that the aforementioned scene with the Sun rising over the water took place by an ocean, not Lake Michigan.

We're on a stretch of rocky coastline, tucked away in a secluded cove. Dragonetti has been stripped bare, chained like Prometheus to an ancient standing stone.

DRAGONETTI: What is this? Where am I?!

Frost steps forward, pulling Dragonetti's hood off. Dragonetti stares at his surroundings, horrified.

FROST: When was the last time you stopped to appreciate a sunrise, Dragonetti? Three, four hundred years?

Frost checks his watch, then looks to the ocean. On the horizon, a sliver of gold appears.

FROST: How do you like that? Right on time.

Blade (1998) screenplay

Thirdly, a "Hillburn Clinic" is also mentioned, which corresponds to an area in New York State. It's unclear if this is a reference to the actual Hillburn area though, or if there just happens to be a clinic with that name somewhere else in the world the movie is set in.

BLADE: Well, looks like our friend here's been blood running.

KAREN: Hillburn Clinic. I know this place, it's a blood bank.

BLADE: Owned by vampires, and there's one in every city.

Blade (1998)

Finally, the official novelisation clearly states that the opening scene -- the one with the vampire nightclub -- takes place in New York.

Raquel gave him the benefit of a full glance, sweeping him from head to the material spread tightly across his crotch. "What do you have down there, little man?" Her voice was a cross between a purr and a challenge.

"Oh, that's my heat-seeker," Dennis answered.

"I'll bet." Raquel slipped a manicured hand up his thigh.

Dennis didn't move, giving her one of his cockiest smiles, the one that had gotten him so much attention as the resident bad boy on two soap operas here in New York before he decided to try his luck out in LA. He felt her hand cup his groin, then squeeze with enough pressure to be just short of hurting. Dennis moaned, giving her the full effect.

Blade (1998) novelisation, by Mel Odom

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    It's always sunny in whatever city Blade lives in. Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 12:29
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    @PaulD.Waite Thanks for finding that part! This could all also feasibly take place in Phildelphia, that would totally fit with the other elements :) Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 13:07
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    @matthias_code Note, though, that the Center City neighborhood of Philadelphia doesn’t have its own independent police force.
    – KRyan
    Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 17:38
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    It may also be worth noting in the answer that New York isn’t the only city with a 42nd Precinct; a quick search also finds one in Chicago (which has a sufficiently-large lake east of it; not sure about a Hillburn neighborhood).
    – KRyan
    Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 17:41
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    Hillburn is by no means in New York City (an hour away by car, 90 minutes by train to the next town over), and it's a tiny place that doesn't actually have any medical services within its borders (you would go to the aforementioned next town over), nor any good reason to name anything in the city after it :)
    – hobbs
    Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 20:12
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Let's drag this one back up only to mention that the close-up of Blade's mother's license at the beginning is interesting in that it says she is from Braxton, FL (no such place btw), with a zip code 90031, which is a Los Angeles zip code. Nothing says she couldn't have moved or been visiting another city when she was killed though. I think the makers of the movie tried to turn the city it takes place in into a bit of an Easter egg hunt, but I also think you guys got it right using the cop's badge.

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    You could improve this answer by editing it to include a screenshot or video clip showing the license in question. Commented Apr 5 at 5:07

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