Andy and Barney somehow secretly ended up in Seattle on The Andy Griffith Show
Barney, we're not in Raleigh anymore…
Near the end of season two, The Andy Griffith Show finally traveled far outside of Mayberry. Andy and Barney head to the state capitol on business in "Andy and Barney in the Big City." Barney immediately takes a shine to urban life.
"You know, Andy, this is where I really belong," the deputy says to his boss, leaning against the hotel counter. "Barney Fife in the asphalt jungle."
Just prior to that scene, the episode shows a couple of establishing shots. We see a city bus drive by the exterior of a hotel. Before that, the camera hovers high over the skyline, showing the skyscrapers and bustling traffic of… Seattle?!
Andy, I don't think we're in North Carolina anymore.
The "Big City" of the episode is Raleigh, which should be about, oh, 140 miles east-southeast of Mayberry. Instead, the two pals end up 2,734 miles in the opposite direction, if you trust what the camera is showing you.
Of course, The Andy Griffith Show did not film in North Carolina. That being said, it did not film in the Pacific Northwest, either. As the closing credits explained week after week, the sitcom "Filmed at Desilu," in Culver City, California.
We tried to trace the origin of this insert shot, this B-roll footage, to no avail. Between the 1940 MGM documentary Seattle: Gateway to the Northwest and the grunge era, not many major productions filmed in the city. It was likely just stock footage.
Sixty years later, the genesis of the shot is not so interesting as what's seen in the image — and one iconic landmark that is not seen. Especially for those familiar with the Emerald City.
First, some perspective. The camera is pointed north up 2nd Avenue in Seattle, floating somewhere above Cherry Street. The hills in the background would be the Queen Anne neighborhood.
Between the buildings and the hills, about in the center of the image, you would expect to see the Space Needle. "Andy and Barney in the Big City" aired in March 1962, mere weeks before the Space Needle opened in April 1962. Construction began on the futuristic tower in 1961. That dates this footage to at least before that time. Just picture how sci-fi that saucer would have looked over this skyline!
In the immediate foreground you can see the Olympic National Life Building. This was imploded in 1982. Up the street, the sign for the Savoy Hotel can be seen. This landmark was imploded in 1986.
The Seattle Tower stretches high above the other buildings on the right of the screen. Today, that architectural beauty is dwarfed by modern skyscrapers and condos that shoot up like mushrooms in the post-Amazon era. The dazzling, prismatic Seattle Public Library is nearby today.
Perhaps The Andy Griffith Show selected this image due to a water tower on the left emblazoned with the letter "R." It could stand for Raleigh. In reality, it was the Rhodes Brothers Department Store. In 1968, Pay 'n Save purchased the store and rebranded it Lamonts.
The reason behind this scene's appearance may remain mysterious, but we can thank its existence for a clear glimpse at Seattle's bygone skyline.