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Stars Hollow is a fictional small town in Connecticut featured on the television show Gilmore Girls. It is depicted as a close-knit community with many quirky characteristics, located roughly thirty minutes by car from Hartford. The show's creators borrowed elements of Essex, Wallingford, and Washington, Connecticut to create the town, which is actually a set constructed on the Warner Bros. backlot in Burbank, California.
|Luke's Diner / William's Hardware||Owned and run by Luke Danes. His living space is upstairs in his father's former office. Luke's late father ran a hardware store in what is now the diner. Luke chose not to change the "Hardware" sign over the entrance of the diner in honor of his father's lifelong business. The diner is almost a second home for Lorelai and Rory Gilmore.|
|Doose's Market||Owned and run by Taylor Doose. This is the main market/grocery story in Stars Hollow. Rory's first boyfriend, Dean, worked here.|
|Miss Patty's Dance School||Dance school run by Miss Patty and venue of town meetings presided over by Taylor Doose.|
|Stars Hollow High School||The town's high school, whose sports teams are the Minutemen.|
|Kim's Antiques||An antique shop which is also the home of Lane Kim and her mother, Mrs. Kim. Contains living quarters above the shop.|
|Weston's Bakery||The town bakery owned by Fran Weston.|
|Al's Pancake World||Competitor to Luke's, specializing in international cuisine, but retaining the "Pancake World" moniker despite no pancakes being on the menu.|
|Gypsy's Garage / Hewes Brothers||Auto garage where Gypsy is the owner and chief mechanic.|
|Sophie's Music||Owned by Sophie Bloom (Carole King). Local shop where Lane buys her musical supplies and learns to play the drums.|
|Stars Hollow Books||Run by Andrew, where Rory once worked over spring break taking inventory.|
|Black, White, and Read Bookshop/Theatre||Another local bookstore, often converted into a casual small movie theater during evenings, where vintage films are screened.|
|Churchogogue||A shared house of worship where both Christian and Jewish services are held.|
|Stars Hollow Beauty Supply||Where Shane, Rory's one-time romantic rival, worked. Kirk also works there in season 3.|
|Gabby's Flowers||Rory and Lorelai buy all four of their Thanksgiving hosts flowers here in season 3.|
|Teriyaki Joe's||where Rory goes to lunch with her grandmother, Emily Gilmore, while giving her a tour of Stars Hollow.|
|Faretta's Barber Shop|
|Jojo's||Another restaurant. The Gilmore Girls comment that Jojo's has terrible food.|
|Antonioli's Restaurant||The pizzeria that Rory hired to make the "world's biggest pizza" for Lorelai's birthday. Kirk works here and had a cheese accident in which 1/3 of his body was burned.|
|Le Chat Club||Sells cat-themed gifts and products for pets. Here Kirk buys supplies for his cat and Luke buys a gift for Rachel.|
|Kirk's Diner||Only seen or heard of in season 7, episode 2: That's What You Get, Folks, for Makin' Whoopie.|
|Stars Hollow Party Supply||A shopping bag from this store was carried by Sookie in season 5 episode 15.|
|The Hungry Diner||patronized by Lorelai and Rory after Luke leaves town on a fishing trip following the accident in which Jess crashes Rory's car, fracturing Rory's wrist. Michel, friend and co-worker of Sookie and Lorelai, frequents the establishment.|
|Stars Hollow Video||Local video rental shop, put up a "Rory Curtain" after Rory asks them to move an explicit movie to a higher shelf. Kirk was seen working there in season 4.|
|The Independence Inn||venue for various parties and events, including weddings. Owned by Mia, managed by Lorelai. Lorelai and Rory lived in the potting shed on the property upon moving to Stars Hollow. This inn burns down, leading to The Dragonfly Inn becoming a focal point.|
|The Dragonfly Inn||Formerly a bed-and-breakfast owned by the Weston family and purchased by Lorelai and Sookie, where Lorelai becomes executive manager and Sookie is chef. Michel, former concierge of the Independence Inn in Stars Hollow and good friend of Sookie and Lorelai, becomes the new manager of the Dragonfly.|
|Stars Hollow Baby||Where Lorelai and Rory buy supplies for Lane's baby shower during season 7.|
|Tricky's Dry Cleaner||Cleans the new uniforms of the Stars Hollow High basketball team in season 2, episode 10. Their motto: "If it's sticky, try Tricky's".|
|Bootsy's Newsstand||Local newsstand run by Bootsy, started by his father.|
|Stars Hollow Library||Home of the Buy-a-Book Fundraiser where Rory purchased many items and worked for a couple of weeks during season 6.|
|Stars Hollow Arcade||Featured throughout the series, and yet another establishment where Kirk worked.|
|Stars Hollow Retirement Home||The proceeds from the "Stars Hollow Bid-a-Basket Fundraiser" were to go to the Stars Hollow Retirement Home (as seen on the signs in start of season 2, episode 13).|
|Harry's House of Twinkle Lights||An integral part of Stars Hollow for 20 years, until Harry the Twinkle Light Man retires in season 2.|
|Mailboxes, Etc.||Where Kirk is working, Luke signs his divorce papers, and Lorelai attempts to buy vintage TV sitcom stamps.|
|Taylor Doose's Old-Fashioned Soda Shoppe||Taylor opens this store next to Luke's Diner and even adds a window between the two in season 4.|
|Stars Hollow Museum||A temporary museum that Taylor starts to display historical artifacts of the town's history. Luke and Dean both help to build the museum and set up the artifacts.|
|Hockey Rink||A rink that the Stars Hollow Minutemen play on and is the first place in which Rory sees Dean with Lindsey, his new girlfriend in season 3.|
|Gazebo||Lorelai and Luke hide out here to share their picnic basket in season 2 and getting married in the Netflix revival miniseries Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. At one point, when he was being attacked by his cat, Kirk was sleeping here. Based on the gazebo on U.S. Route 5 in the center of Wallingford|
According to Luke, Stars Hollow has "twelve stores... devoted entirely to peddling porcelain unicorns."
Other establishments mentioned: Nancy's Cottage of Calico, a post office, Stars Hollow Bank, travel agency, vintage clothing store, law firm, gas station, a knitting store that Mrs. Kim frequents, a stationery store, a real estate office, a pharmacy, and a shoe store.
Stars Hollow was founded in 1779 with conflicting legends regarding how it got its name. Although some within the town doubt the theory, the traditionally accepted legend involves two star-crossed lovers who seemed destined never to be together, until separate cosmological phenomena involving stars led them to each other at the spot where the town now exists. This is celebrated annually at the Firelight Festival, shown in 1st season episode "Star-Crossed Lovers and Other Strangers" and 4th season episode "Nag Hammadi is Where They Found the Gnostic Gospels."
Another story of Stars Hollow's founding was presented in Season 5, episode 18, "To Die and Let Diorama." A talking display built in the new Stars Hollow Museum explained that a Puritan family first discovered the area while looking for a place to settle. They named it as such because of "the stars, so bright; this forest, so hollow!"
The Revolutionary War
There was also a "battle" fought in Stars Hollow where 12 men stood and waited for the Redcoats who never came. This battle is re-enacted annually, shown in first season episode "Love and War and Snow" and in 5th season episode "Women of Questionable Morals." This second occurrence marked the beginning of the addition of the town prostitute, who slept with the British general to delay the troops.
|“||The bell at Stars Hollow was cast in 1780 to celebrate the first anniversary of the town. The bell cracked the first time it was rung and weighed 2080 pounds. The strike of the bell is E-flat. On June 6, 1944 when Allied forces landed in France, the sound of the bell was broadcast to all parts of the country.||”|
According to the Stars Hollow Historical Society, Third Street is among the town's worst historical landmarks to take your children. In the 18th century, it was known as "Sores and Boils Alley," where sick and suffering people throughout the region came to have sores and boils lanced. A small leper colony is said to have existed there as well. On modern-day Third Street, one will find the newly restored Dragonfly Inn.
Throughout its history, Third Street has also held various other names, aside from the aforementioned "Sores and Boils Alley," including "Constabulary Road," "Crusty Bulge," and a Nipmuc Indian name, "Chargogagogmanchogagogcharbunagunggamog." The Nipmuc Indian name is said to mean, "You fish on your side of the lake, I'll fish on my side and no one will fish in the middle." According to Kirk, it could also mean "Buffalo."
The town square and gazebo can be seen during the robbery scene of the Seinfeld series finale in 1998.
Many of the sets for Stars Hollow were also used in The Music Man, The Dukes of Hazzard, and The Waltons. The Dragonfly Inn was the Waltons' home. The town's high school was the Hazzard County Courthouse.
It was also Walter and Gary's hometown Smalltown in the 2011 movie The Muppets
Unionville, Ontario's Main Street was used as a stand-in for Stars Hollow in the show's pilot which became the first episode.
Since 2010, the Gilmore Girls set is used for the ABC Family show, Pretty Little Liars. Luke's Diner is now used as Rosewood Cafe. Hart of Dixie's fictional Bluebell also uses the square. The Stars Hollow High School is used as Rosewood High School.
It was also used in the 2012 TV series Go On season 1 episode 6 'Big League Chew' in a dream-like sequence of the character Ryan King.
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Stars Hollow was inspired by and is loosely based on the actual village of Washington Depot, Connecticut (located in the middle of the western half of the state, about 45 minutes from both Hartford and New Haven) which writer Amy Sherman-Palladino once traveled through. Sherman-Palladino later said, "Now, I've never been there in winter, when you're snowed in and you can't go anywhere, and you and your husband want to kill each other because you can't go to a movie. But at the time I was there, it was beautiful, it was magical, and it was feeling of warmth and small-town camaraderie. . . . There was a longing for that in my own life, and I thought – that's something that I would really love to put out there."
There are many clues given during the course of the show as to its location in Connecticut, but no one town fits them all. Hartford is supposed to be within 30 minutes, New Haven is allegedly 22.8 miles (36.7 km) away and Woodbridge, Connecticut is 20 miles (32 km) away. Stars Hollow is mentioned not being in Litchfield County, negating all towns within. Towns mentioned as being close include Woodbury, Litchfield, Beacon Falls (generally in the central southwest of the state), Groton, Naugatuck and New London (in the southeast). However, towns in eastern Connecticut are unlikely as they are farther from Woodbridge and Hartford. Moreover, in the episode "I'm OK, You're OK," Lorelai Gilmore tells her parents that "New London is near Stars Hollow, and Preston is not." New London and Preston, both located in southeastern CT, are separated by only two towns, making Lorelai's statement contradictory and unlikely. Meriden is 30 minutes from Hartford, 22.8 miles (36.7 km) away from New Haven and 23.6 miles (38.0 km) from Woodbridge, but is more of a city. The most likely candidate then would be the neighboring town, Wallingford, Connecticut, which, like Stars Hollow, it has a gazebo, a town green, locally owned diners, the zip code 06492, and has a prep school, Choate Rosemary Hall, on which Chilton is based. However, Chilton is continually referenced as being located in Hartford, not Stars Hollow.
In the liner notes for the show's soundtrack, Music from Gilmore Girls, a postcard sent by Lane from South Korea is pictured, and is addressed to Rory's home address of 37 Maple Street in Stars Hollow. The town's ZIP code is shown as 06492, the same as Wallingford. It does not have a Maple Street, however they do have a Maple Avenue.
Washington Depot, the village Amy Sherman-Palladino mentioned as inspiring Stars Hollow, also uses a town meeting-style government and was founded in 1779. The homes and buildings in the town all match the style of that in Stars Hollow and the archetype New England town. In all, plenty of small Connecticut towns have village greens, gazebos or small quaint shops and give a feel much like Stars Hollow to a visitor.
Rory began attending Chilton at the start of the series. Chilton is a prep school that seems to be located in Hartford (in season 2, episode 5 Lane mentions a record store called Record Breaker, Inc. on 2453 Berlin Turnpike, "ten minutes from your school", which narrows it down to Newington, CT). It is based on Wallingford's Choate Rosemary Hall. Stars Hollow also is on a Connecticut Transit route, as Rory commutes to and from the school using a bus from Stars Hollow's town square. However, there is no Connecticut Transit route that would take Rory directly to Hartford in a reasonable time via bus.
Greg Morago of the Hartford Courant writes, "Unlike the Hartford depicted on Judging Amy, the Stars Hollow of The Gilmore Girls rings true. The town's antiques shops, small businesses, schools, government and infrastructure look the part. But where Sherman-Palladino has truly excelled, despite her Clueless origins, is in her drawing of colorful Connecticut characters. The populace of Stars Hollow, from the town busybody to the town troubadour, is familiar to any Nutmegger who ever attended a town meeting."
During Season 1 Episode 2, when Rory is on her way to her first day at school they drive past the Gelston House, (located in East Haddam, CT) a restaurant next to the Goodspeed Opera House and East Haddam Swing Bridge.
In Season 6, Richard and Emily offer to buy Luke and Lorelai a house in Beacon Falls, just over the border from Stars Hollow and a short drive to Luke's Diner and the Dragonfly Inn. In the same season, Luke's young daughter April regularly rides her bicycle to Luke's Diner from Woodbridge. During Season 7 when Lorelei's Jeep breaks down they mention being within feasible walking distance of Naugatuck; later on, Luke takes Lorelai car shopping to a dealer that is noted to be located in Watertown. Taylor Doose mentions that Woodbridge is on the other side of the railroad tracks during the Pickle Spill in Season 7 and frequently speaks of Woodbridge as a "sister" town. This position between Beacon Falls, Naugatuck, and Woodbridge would place it in the southwestern portion of the town of Bethany, although that would be closer to New Haven and further from Hartford than the distances to Chilton and Yale used in the show.
- Season 2, episode 5.
- Cathy Maestri (December 19, 2003). "Welcome to the unreal world". The Press-Enterprise.
- Ken Beck. "Stars Hollow Exists Only in Hollywood". The Tennessean. 3 September 2006.
- Scott Pierce. "Visit to tiny town led to show idea". The Deseret News. 22 February 2001.
- Greg Morago. "The Search for Stars Hollow". the Hartford Courant. 19 September 2002.