In 1982, I was six years old and the only things I cared about were “Star Wars” and getting the high score in “Dig Dug”. That all changed when I got my first issue of Marvel’s “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” and a Grunt action figure. Over the ensuing weeks, my entire life became focused solely on finding time to recreate the Joes’ exploits in the lunch room, on the playground, and at home—basically anywhere my imagination could take root.
A lot of those missions started out inside The Pit, G.I. Joe’s secret underground headquarters. While it was a prominent part of the comic books, there was never an official playset made based on it, so I had to make do with whatever I had handy, usually a cardboard box. Years went by and I’ve collected just about every ‘80s-era G.I. Joe toy—including the massive U.S.S. Flagg aircraft carrier playset—yet The Pit still eludes me.
Since my official grown-up job on the Movoto Real Estate Blog lets me use my imagination for a living, I decided to do the next best thing to owning The Pit and figure out how much the base would cost if it were a real place. The answer: The Pit, if it were on the market today, would sell for $27,567,000 (unfurnished, of course).
If you’d like to know more about what I found, and how I came up with that price, keep on reading, soldier.
How I Did What Cobra Couldn’t
Even though it’s located underground and owned by the U.S. government, The Pit is still subject to the same evaluation process I’ve used to figure out the price of other fictional properties. In order to put a pricetag on the base, I needed to know:
- How big it is
- Where it’s located
- The cost of homes there per square foot
As the actual size of The Pit is something I’d never really thought about, I decided to start there.
Where the Joes Live, Train, and Plan the Fight
Before I could get down to the (military) brass tacks of figuring out how big The Pit is, I first had to decide which version of it I was going to size up. That’s because there have actually been several Pits, including its appearances in the comic and even the awful 2009 movie. Ultimately, I decided to base my calculations on the original version from the 1982 comic by Larry Hama—my first exposure to Joe headquarters.
Going back through the comic’s archives, I was able to track down a detailed diagram of The Pit showing its interior and floorplan. Basically, it’s a five-story building built underground, with equal-sized floors and rooms including:
- Briefing Room
- Hologram Room
- Pentagon Direct Hookup Room
- Situation Analysis Room
- Electronic Communications Room
- Primary Staging Area
- Training Area
- Living Quarters
- Computer Room
- Generator Room
So, I knew a lot about what was inside The Pit, but how was I going to measure its actual size? Well, as usual, I was able to come up with what I think was a fairly clever solution. You see, the diagrams also included a tank in the garage, and considering how similar the Joe tanks look to the Army’s M1 Abrams, I decided to use one of those for scale.
An M1 Abrams tank, it turns out, has a hull length of 26.02 feet. Using that, I measured the rest of the complex, including the two motor pool buildings on the surface. It turns out that each of the five floors of this 189-foot-tall structure cover 21,801 square feet, for a total of 110,268 square feet.
With the size figured out, it was time to look into where The Pit was actually located.
It Took Cobra Forever to Find This Place
G.I. Joe’s base has been located in various places in the comics, cartoons, and movies, from deserts to the aforementioned U.S.S. Flagg. I remembered, however, that the original Pit was built underneath an actual military base in the U.S.—I just couldn’t recall exactly which one.So, thanks to the wonder that is the internet, I got some help… and I was right. In Hama’s “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” comic, the original Pit was located under the motor pool of the Chaplains Assistant’s School at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island, New York. That’s a lot more specific than we usually find for these things. While I now knew where it was located, the students and other military personnel in the comics didn’t even realize it was right under their feet.
I should probably note that while Fort Wadsworth is a real place, the actual base is no longer in operation, although some of its buildings are being used by the U.S. Coast Guard. In other words, it’s probably not a good idea to go snooping around looking for an entrance to the underground complex. You can, however, go on official tours—or even live in the area. That last bit was important in figuring out The Pit’s price.
Live Near The Pit (If It Were Real)
Now that I knew where The Pit was located, I just had to figure out the cost of real estate there (I’m assuming that, like me, you’d want to buy the base for residential purposes). To do that, I tracked down the listing price for four of the largest residences I could find on Staten Island and averaged out their cost per square foot. That left me with an average price per square foot for the area of $250. The only thing left to do was math.
G.I. Joe Was There
Once I had all the information I needed, I knew I didn’t need to be Spreadsheet—the Joes’ accountant, based on Larry Correia—to figure out the rest. All I needed to do was get out my camouflage ‘80s-era calculator and multiply The Pit’s square footage (110,268) by its cost per square feet ($250). The result was a surprisingly reasonable $27,567,000.
Like I point out with all of these evaluations, that price doesn’t include the cost to build The Pit or any of the awesome hardware G.I. Joe had set up inside when they occupied the place. It does, however, get you a whole lot of highly secret real estate under Staten Island, just perfect for planning your next mission against evil, global terrorists led by a guy who sounds like a snake—and had a son named Billy.
So, now you know… and knowing is half the battle! (The other half, as it turned out, was math.)
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