ARiverdale might be the “Town With Pep,” but when it comes to where it’s located that’s another issue entirely. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there. And given that you can see a live-action Riverdale every week on The CW, you might think you can jet over and visit Archie and the gang. So is Riverdale a real place?
Sort of yes, sort of no.
Frequent comic book readers are probably plenty familiar with this particular conundrum. Marvel Comics ostensibly takes place in the “real” world. But fans have debated for years where Gotham City and Metropolis are located. It doesn’t help things that DC also includes New York City, Detroit, etc. alongside the fictional cities. Archie Comics is an even more interesting case, because for the most part they don’t make any pretensions of reality.
That is, until recent reboots of the comics gave a veneer of reality to Betty, Veronica and the rest. And then there’s the show, which — get ready for a shock — is filmed with live actors I KNOW.
So let’s take a look back, and see if we can solve a mystery that might make even Bughead scratch their bugheads.
Is Riverdale A Real Place In The Comics?
Way back when the town was introduced in 1939, it was canonically set in Riverdale, New York, a town just north of the Bronx. And in fact, there is a real Riverdale in the Bronx, currently home to just south of 50,000 people. Except the inspo for the town in the comics was either Hiawatha, Kansas (according to Archie publisher John L. Goldwater), or Haverhill, Massachusetts (according to artist Bob Montana).
Wherever Riverdale was originally supposed to be located, it’s pretty clear that it’s not a real place in the comics. Riverdale is a town where anything and everything exists and is easily accessible. It’s also near Greendale (Sabrina the Teenage Witch’s town) and Midvale (home of Josie and the Pussycats). Which places it basically nowhere on the real map.
So if you’re looking to visit, head North of New York City, and find your favorite small town. That’s Riverdale.
Is Riverdale A Real Place On TV?
On the first episode of Riverdale, the town was established as being located in Rockland County. Interestingly, Riverdale in the Bronx is across the river from Rockland County, though the latter is a little more appropriate for the multiple climate zones and landscapes that appear on the show.
That also explains how the characters on Riverdale are regularly able to jet off to New York for the day: it’s about a 45 minute drive from Rockland to Midtown, New York City.
Yeah, But Is Riverdale A Real Place — Like, Is The Set Real?
Through a little bit of the ol’ movie magic, Riverdale isn’t filmed anywhere near New York. Like a lot of Warner Brothers’ other shows, it’s shot in Vancouver, British Columbia and nearby Fraser Valley. And in fact, if you ever see an aerial view of the entire town, it’s stock footage used for everything from Gilmore Girls to Pretty Little Liars. And it isn’t even in Canada: the town shown is Harbor Springs, Michigan.
Still, there are some physical locations you can (potentially) check out if you head to Canada. Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe was actually built outside. The houses are real, too, though you won’t find Archie (KJ Apa) and Betty (Lili Reinhart) next door to each other. The Andrews residence is located in Vancouver’s Grandview-Woodland neighborhood, while the Coopers are over in New Westminster. If you want to visit Veronica’s (Camila Mendes) apartment building The Pembroke, head over to 330 West Pender Street. And you’ll have to make two trips to visit Thistle House, the Blossom residence: Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) lives in Copper Stone Mansion in South Langley, and the Cecil Green Park House at the University of British Columbia.
And if you want to check out Riverdale High, head over to Lord Byng Secondary School, which was used for the exterior shots, as well as Burnaby Mountain Secondary School and John Oliver Secondary School. If you want to head inside, though, you’re gonna have to get a hall pass from Warner Brothers: that’s all on soundstages.
Be sure to check our our Riverdale podcast, Riverdale After Dark, which updates right after every episode airs!