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Stranger Things Wiki

People say Hawkins is cursed. They're not... way off.
Dustin to Eddie, March 22, 1986

Hawkins was a small midwestern town located in Roane County in the US state of Indiana, positioned about 80 miles outside of Indianapolis.[1] It had an estimated population of 10,000 to 15,000.[2]


Prior to 1983, Hawkins was a largely quiet and uneventful town. The last person to be reported missing prior to 1983 was in the summer of 1923, while the last suicide was in fall 1961.[3] The only major incident of note was the Creel family tragedy of 1959, in which Victor Creel was believed to have brutally murdered his wife and two children.

The greatest point of interest was the secretive Hawkins National Laboratory, one of several national laboratories which grew out of the scientific endeavors of the Second World War. Unbeknownst to the residents of the town, the lab hosted experiments for the controversial government program known as "MKUltra". These experiments yielded the births of a number of children with inherited psychokinetic abilities, who were in turn abducted and experimented on. These child test subjects were strictly confined to the lab's premises, their existence kept top secret by the authorities.

In November 1983, during experiments at the laboratory, one of these test subjects, "Eleven", accidentally opened a gate to an alternate dimension; a predatory humanoid creature was allowed through to Hawkins, which started to abduct residents and bring them to the other world. Among its victims were Will Byers, who was brought home after a week, and Barbara Holland, who was killed by the creature. The circumstances of their disappearances were covered up by the agents at Hawkins Lab. Eleven, who had escaped the lab and evaded their attempts to recapture her, ultimately destroyed the creature in a showdown at Hawkins Middle School, mysteriously vanishing in the process.

Following the opening of the “Mothergate”, the alternate dimension, known by Will Byers's friends as "The Upside Down", began to slowly influence the surrounding environment. Gigantic, vine-like tunnels grew out from the Mothergate, burrowing deep beneath the outskirts of town and causing fields of crops above to degrade. Will Byers also began to experience strange visions of the Upside Down, with his mother Joyce bringing him to Hawkins Lab to check up on him.

In October 1984, the Hawkins Chief of Police, Jim Hopper, took notice of the rot plaguing Hawkins’s crops; he demanded that Hawkins Lab, now headed by Dr. Sam Owens, investigate a potential connection to the Upside Down. Meanwhile, Will’s visions intensified; he saw a shadowy entity pursue him throughout the Upside Down. Despite his best efforts to resist, the creature started to exert psychic influence over Will’s actions. The entity, which Will’s friends nicknamed “the Mind Flayer”, then used Will to manipulate Owens and the lab, allowing a pack of monsters to launch an attack from within the tunnels, killing much of the lab’s staff.

However, the Upside Down's incursion soon came to a halt when Eleven returned to Hawkins Lab, and used her powers to seal the Gate, and cut off the Mind Flayer’s influence. In the weeks that followed, Hawkins Lab was officially shut down due to an exposè published by Nancy Wheeler, Jonathan Byers and Murray Bauman, which, in a purposefully 'watered-down' manner, claimed Barbara’s death was caused by a chemical leak.

Later that year, the mysterious Starcourt Industries purchased various properties and plots of land throughout East Hawkins with direct assistance from the controversial Mayor of Hawkins, Larry Kline. Construction of the first "Starcourt Mall" commenced in December 1984, or in the early months of 1985. In truth, Starcourt Industries was a shell entity controlled by the Soviet Union. Starcourt Mall was built to conceal the concurrent creation of a covert underground base, where Soviet scientists attempted to create a gate to the Upside Down using experimental technology, hoping to pry open the vulnerable fabric of space-time that existed in Hawkins.

Upon opening in the summer of 1985, Starcourt Mall proved popular, but was financially damaging to the downtown area. The mall became divisive among the townspeople, with some gleefully indulging in shopping sprees, while others boycotted the mall, and protested Mayor Kline’s questionable property dealings.

On June 28, 1985, the Soviets successfully created a gate in the wall of the underground base. This also renewed the Upside Down's psychic link with Hawkins, reviving a piece of the Mind Flayer at Brimborn Steel Works. The revived entity set to work immediately, possessing hordes of rats. More and more rats were summoned to the abandoned steel mill, where their bodies were melted down and combined into a new form, which the entity could directly possess. This process was then repeated on a larger scale with human beings.

On June 29, Dustin Henderson discovered evidence of the hidden base's existence after his homemade ham radio accidentally intercepted secret Russian communications. After Dustin shared the discovery with his friends, the group figured out how to break into the hidden base, and barely escaped. Meanwhile, Hopper, Joyce and Murray also discovered the Russians' presence in Hawkins. Building off what their younger allies had learned, the three sneaked into the base and halted the creation of the Soviet gate; however, Hopper was captured in the process, and was presumed deceased by the rest of Hawkins. Meanwhile, Dustin's friends and their allies fought the new incarnation of the Mind Flayer in the mall's food court, with a fire ultimately breaking out and destroying much of the mall.

Three months after the mall fire, Hawkins became the focal point of several conspiracy theories due to recent events blowing up in the news, and Mayor Kline being arrested for illegally facilitating the mall's construction. By March 1986, many residents of Hawkins came to believe the town was cursed, due to the large number of deaths that had took place within a relatively short time-frame.

These beliefs were amplified after several teenagers were brutally murdered by a mysterious killer; the Party figured out the murderer was an entity from the Upside Down, and nicknamed him "Vecna", but his true identity was Henry Creel, the long-lost son of Victor Creel. The Hawkins Tigers concluded the killings were sacrifices performed by the Hellfire Club, a group of Dungeons & Dragons players at Hawkins High School, and began hunting their leader, Eddie Munson. Their hunt was ultimately cut short, however, when Vecna achieved his goal of breaking the barrier between the regular and Upside Down worlds. Huge chasm-gates opened up throughout Hawkins, causing catastrophic damage and creating an earthquake-like effect, killing dozens of civilians.

With Hawkins devastated and apparently plagued by constant death and destruction, many residents left town and moved elsewhere. Soon after, the large gates formed by Vecna's plot became active, with plumes of spores beginning to fall across the landscape, while unnatural red storms raged in the skies. The local plant life began to wither; it seemed the Upside Down's spread had become inescapable.


Known families


Included and Nearby Locations


The Downtown of Hawkins was the center of the city of Hawkins, where several public buildings and commercial shops were located. It was a town square surrounding a clock tower building in the center that housed the Public Library.

Much of this area was destroyed after the curse gates converged upon the library on March 27, 1986.

Lakes, rivers and natural features


Roads and areas


This section is partly written from a real-world perspective.

Several maps of Hawkins appear throughout the series, but are inconsistent with one another.

Jonathan's map

Jonathan's map

Jonathan's map, marking the monster attacks.

Before Jonathan and Nancy went monster hunting, he showed her a map taken from a telephone directory, where he had marked the locations of the monster attacks: Steve's house, the place where Will's bike was found and the Byers' house. The map also showed the names of several roads in Hawkins, which were probably the main roads.[10]

Streets going North-South: Johnson, Euclid, Monroe, Washington, Madison, Grant, Habersham, North Ave, Piedmont, and Hill.

Streets going West-East: Broadway, Briarcliff, Jackson, and Henry.

Issues with this map:

  • None of the streets listed feature elsewhere in the series, or on any other map.
  • The map apparently shows the site Will's bike was found, but does not include the streets Cornwallis and Kerley, which are said to be nearby.

Hopper's map

See also: Map of Hawkins (from Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down)
Hawkins map - Worlds Upside Down

Hopper's map, marking sites of environmental decay.

This map, featured in Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down, is a variation of the map Hopper annotates in "The Pollywog". The map depicts Hawkins Lab at the town's most south-western point, and is surrounded by sites of Mothergate-inflicted environmental decay, indicated by Hopper's hand-drawn "X" marks. Additionally, a number of name-dropped roads and streets, including Cornwallis, Dearborn, Kerley and Maple, all make an appearance on this map.

The map is near-identical to Hopper’s on-screen map, except:

  • Hawkins Lab, and various lakes and rivers, receive labels.
  • The road connecting the lab to the rest of Hawkins is represented by a solid line, unlike the in-show version, which uses a dotted line.
  • The hand-drawn crosses appear slightly different.

Issues with this map:

  • In "The Sauna Test", Lake Jordan is specifically described as being in southeast Hawkins (with Starcourt Mall also suggested to be in the town's southeast). However, Hopper's map places the lake in Hawkins's southwest, and the mall is placed at the town's north.
  • While in the Upside Down in "The Massacre at Hawkins Lab", Nancy, Steve, Robin and Eddie travel from Lover's Lake to the Wheeler house in an attempt to fetch Nancy's weapons. Nancy says fetching weapons from her room would be quicker than travelling to Downtown Hawkins, but according to Hopper's map, Lover's Lake and the Wheeler house are on opposite ends of town.

Bob's map

Bob's map of Hawkins

Bob Newby uses this map when trying to make sense of Will's drawings in "The Pollywog".

Issues with this map:

  • Bob's map depicts a river - likely intended to be the Eno River - running through the town center. This river is nowhere to be seen elsewhere in the show. The placement of the Eno River in Hopper's map better correlates with the show's depiction of Hawkins's geography.

Behind the scenes

Stranger Things was filmed on location in Atlanta, Georgia, and surrounding areas. The town square of Jackson in Butts County was used as the location for downtown Hawkins, and many of the stores were repainted and stocked with vintage merchandise for filming.

The show was originally set in Montauk, Long Island, as shown by the pilot script. For various reasons, the Duffers invented Hawkins and used it as the show's location instead.

Filming location

See also: Filming locations

The town square of Jackson, Georgia and its establishments were used as the filming location for the downtown area. The Butts County Probate court in the center of the town square was used for the Public Library. The shops along 2nd Street were most prominently featured in the show: Jackson Drug as Melvald's General Store, RadioShack as RadioShack and Jason Lee Music Store as the furniture shop.


Downtown Hawkins Filming Preparations

Crews painting the facade of Jackson Drug in preparation for filming, November 2015.

In preparation for the shoot, crews were on the square in November 2015, painting the facades of several businesses, including Jackson Drug, and adding props and signage.[11]

A number of storefronts, primarily on the north side of the square along Second Street, were revitalized to fit the 1980’s era. Jackson Drug Company, Radio Shack and Jason Lee Music Store were given a new color scheme and look for the shoot. Colors used for the painting were drawn from color charts approved by the Downtown Development Authority and played part in future revitalization efforts.[12] 

RadioShack Filming Preparations

The storefront of RadioShack stacked with period electronics.

In the week before filming, the prop department loaded the front window of RadioShack with period electronics including console televisions, smaller color and black and white televisions, an Atari game console, a Kenwood stereo component system and a GE cassette tape recorder. The old Deraney’s Department store building, which had stood empty until Jason Lee Music Store had recently opened, was transformed into a furniture store with a selection of 1980’s era furniture pieces placed in the window along the sidewalk.[12]

The north entrance of the Butts County Courthouse was fitted with temporary wooden doors. The old fenced-in enclosure on the north lawn of the courthouse, as well as an old water pipe and concrete around the enclosure, was removed and replaced with plantings for the shoot.[12]

Government Relations Director Michael Brewer said they were "grateful for the cooperation and interest in Jackson from the people at Netflix," especially mentioning assistant location manager Dan Reilly. He said the City and County had worked well together to help Netflix, and Netflix had kept the store owners, the City of Jackson and Downtown Development Authority informed all the way.[12]


On Monday, November 23, 2015, Mulberry, 2nd and Oak streets were closed around the town square and their parking spaces blocked for filming from 5 AM to 10 PM.[11] Further shoots on the town square were planned for unspecified dates in the early part of 2016.[12]

Netflix worked with the stores on the streets to make alternate arrangements for customers on shooting day. They also worked with local merchants to make sure they were not adversely affected by shooting schedules. Probate Court arraignments continued as scheduled, but those attending were required to enter the courthouse through the Third Street entrance, with Uniform officers in the area assisting with the street closures.[12]


  • The name of the furniture store, "Royal Furniture Co.", is a probable reference to the show’s set decorator, Jess Royal.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "The Piggyback"
  2. The size of the police department, the apparent size of Hawkins Middle School, and the apparent size of Hawkins High would be consistent with a town of perhaps 10,000 or 15,000 residents.[1]
  3. "The Weirdo on Maple Street"
  4. Stranger Things: The First Shadow
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Hawkins Memories: Vecna's Curse
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "The Vanishing of Will Byers"
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "The Bathtub"
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Dr. Owens's files in "Papa"
  9. 9.0 9.1 OPTION_TO_BUY.doc on "Windows 1.11"
  10. "The Flea and the Acrobat"
  11. 11.0 11.1 "‘Stranger Things’ shoots on Jackson square" Jackson Progress-Argus. November 24, 2015.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 "Film Industry Returns to Jackson" Butts County, GA. November 19, 2015.

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