Skip to Content

This is the place where Hollywood gets its vintage gadgets

Ever wondered where period shows like “The Americans” and “Mad Men” get their vintage electronic gadgets? From antique IBM computers to obsolete Xerox machines, you would think that they’ll have a hard time scouring around for old gadgets that no one makes anymore.

But forget eBay or Craigslist. Believe it or not, there is actually a sanctuary for old and unwanted electronics that are typically headed for landfills.

Read on and see why this warehouse not only supplies Hollywood with historically accurate and perfectly working vintage electronics, it’s also a place where gadgets are repurposed, recycled and given a second lease in life.

Meet the Gowanus E-Waste Warehouse

Located in Brooklyn, it’s called the Gowanus E-Waste Warehouse and it is Hollywood’s go-to place for finding ancient electronic props and gadgets.

As a part of the Lower East Side Ecology Center, a non-profit organization that facilitates recycling programs in New York City, the Gowanus E-Waste Warehouse’s goal is simple — “to preserve the world’s oldest, most cherished electronics.”

Not only that but since 2012, the warehouse is where New Yorkers put away their neglected electronics to be refurbished or recycled in old gadget heaven.

Daily, big batches of electronics are sorted, disassembled and either sent out for recycling or refurbished for reuse. The warehouse’s mission is all about sustainability. By repurposing salvageable parts or by repairing old gadgets, they are given a second lease in life.

The gadget prop library

Occasionally, though, there comes the rare and valuable find like a vintage Mac, a Royal typewriter, or a pristine Reagan-era CRT television. These bookmarks of technology often make it to the warehouse’s exclusive prop library, where movie and TV show producers can rent and use them as perfect-period electronic antiques for their sets.

The prop library also doubles as the warehouse’s museum-like collection, proudly displayed as milestones of technology over the last 80 years. But unlike the hands-of approach in a traditional museum, the 2,000-plus vintage electronic items in Gowanus can be interacted with, used and, of course, rented out.

From video game consoles, old-school CRT monitors, VCRs, rotary dial telephones, oscilloscopes to personal computers and brick cellular phones, the warehouse’s collection has everything.

Check out the video below from Gizmodo for a tour:

So if you’re still wondering where your favorite TV show’s awesome vintage electronic props are coming from, now you know that there’s this sweet “little” place in Brooklyn that not only does its best to archive and preserve history, it also ensures that old gadgets are recycled and repurposed responsibly.

Bonus: Be kind to the environment, and benefit the world a little by properly recycling your old electronics. Click here for three ways to recycle your old electronics. 

Stop robocalls once and for all

Robocalls are not only annoying, but they scam Americans out of millions every year. Learn Kim's tricks for stopping them for good in this handy guide.

Get the eBook