"It is easier to build a strong child than to repair a broken man." - Frederick Douglass

Classic Chicago Film Locations

Courtesy of Joel Olives (Flickr CC0)

Chicago is one of the top three cities popular for filmmaking since the early 1990s. Thanks to its cultural significance, and is a leader in independent filmmaking and movie patronage at that time. There are dozens of locations in the Windy City that were used for film sets for various famous movies, Here are a few and what movies utilized them.

The Younger’s New House in the Film ‘A Raisin in the Sun’

Located on 4930 West Hirsch Street, in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, this house was used in the famous film based on Lorraine Hansberry’s notorious play. The 1961 film follows an African American family, the Youngers, and their attempt to move into a high-income white neighborhood, and their struggles with racism within the community.

The house is not just a physical place, but a metaphor, representing the family’s dreams and their societal status being Black in America. Although the Austin neighborhood is now a predominately Black community, at the time the movie was filmed, it was predominantly white. There were even white families protesting against the idea of an African American movie being filmed in their neighborhood according to St. Sukie de la Croix, author of “Chicago Whisper.”

Green Mill Cocktail Lounge in the Movie ‘Thief’

Courtesy of WordRidden (Flickr CC0)

Located on 4802 North Broadway, the movie “Thief,”  is a gritty neo-noir movie, following one man’s life of crime. This location is now referred to as just the ‘Green Mill.’  Its history goes back to over one hundred years. In its earlier days, names such as Al Capone, and Machine Gun Jack McGurn were associated with Green Mill. A very notable moment at this site is comedian Joe E. Lewis getting brutally attacked.

Another fun fact related to Green Mill is that its story directly relates to “Thief.” Its director, Michael Mann, filmed what was likely an identical replica of the location, being blown up. The Green Mill is located in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago and is considered the area’s most sought-out attraction for both tourists and film buffs.

The Tunnel Chase Scene in the Film’The Dark Knight’

Located on Lower Wacker Drive, this tunnel gave director Christopher Nolan inspiration for the fictional city Gotham in the Batman universe. This tunnel is used during the chase scene between Batman, Gotham PD, and the Joker as the villain attempts to murder the politician Harvey Dent.

The tunnel is known for its concrete construction and is often used for drag racing. It was quite hard to maneuver through prior to navigation apps. This makes chase scenes within this tunnel even more adrenaline-inducing and disorienting.

The former IBM building located at 330 North Wabash Avenue served as headquarters for Wayne Enterprises.

The Old Chicago Main Post Office served as the location for the bank robbery scene.

The Bridge from the ‘Bridge Jump Scene’ in Movie ‘The Blues Brothers’

Located on East 95th Street Bridge, and is used in the musical comedy “The Blues Brothers” by John Landis. The film follows Elwood and Jake Blues, as they’re on the way back home after Jake’s release from prison. They drive what they call the “Bluesmobile,” which is actually just a repurposed cop car, over the 95th Street Bridge. This sounds harmless, but that’s until the audience realizes that the brothers are using this bridge as a ramp as the two sections lift for a boat to pass through, and they use the ramp to jump over the gap. The bridge is still around today, although it’s no longer the original white color that it was in the film, and is now a maroon. This 1958 bridge is located by the coast of Lake Michigan and the Indiana State line.

Ray’s Music Exchange is also an iconic Chicago feature used in this film. When the Blues Brothers met Ray Charles they were at Shelly’s Loan and Jewelry Company at 300 East 47th Street on Chicago’s South Side.

The movie also utilized the Soul Food Cafe, Jackson Park, City Hall, Old Joliet Prison Park, and the South Shore Cultural Center.

The Cabrini Rowhouses in the ‘Candyman’ Films

Located on 900 North Cleveland Avenue, the horror film “Candyman,” is about the ghost of a former slave with a hook for a hand. The idea behind = using the Cabrini-Green Projects added a very realistic tone to the film. These projects were created as a federal response to the living conditions of lower-class individuals in major cities like Chicago. Over time, however, because of budget cuts, these projects became predominately Black, and the residents were left to their own devices. These housing projects are located on the North Side of Chicago and are a perfect example of how racism has contributed to its downfall.

Although many were torn down, a lot of the original Rowhouses used in the film are still here today. This is why both the original 1992 and 2021 renditions of “Candyman” are considered to be made in a bad or unsafe neighborhood. There are attempts being made by the Chicago Housing Authority to renovate the area as a result of a 2013 lawsuit. However, the renovation is slow-moving.

Cameron’s Highland Park House in ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’

Located on 370 Beech Street, the house used in this film was on the market for around $1.5 million from 2011-2014. This house was used in many scenes from the film “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” one of the most notable being the emotional climax of the film, where Cameron has a breakdown and proceeds to wreck a classic Ferrari that belonged to his father. The house is characterized as a somewhat prison for Cameron, the house consists mostly of large window panes, which makes it quite transparent, Cameron can see everything, but can’t do anything.

The house is located in the Chicago suburbs in Highland Park, Illinois, it borders Lake Michigan and is north of downtown Chicago.

The Atlantic City Nine Ball Classic in the Movie ‘The Color of Money’

Courtesy of Anthony Lorenzo (Flickr CC0)

Located at Navy Pier, at 600 East Grand Avenue, “The Color of Money” is a sports and pool-based film that follows Paul Newman and Tom Cruise and their travels from Chicago to Atlantic City for a tournament. A lot of the scenes in the movie were filmed in Illinois, even though the story leaves Chicago somewhat early on.

Although the pool competition in the film is said to take place at Resorts International Hotel in Atlantic City, it was actually filmed at Navy Pier. Navy Pier is a huge cultural center in Chicago, consisting of a beer garden, a children’s museum, a Shakespeare theatre, and more!

Andy’s Apartment in ‘Child’s Play’ (1988)

Located at Brewster Apartments, on 2800 North Pine Grove Avenue, these apartments were perfect for representing one of the most terrifying elements of “Child’s Play” is how domestic space is often violated.

Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal filmed “Running Scared” at Brewster. There is a creepy history behind these apartments, WBEZ Chicago reported that in 1895 a publisher fell off the rooftop of the building, and haunts the apartments. This is a chilling thought, especially when there’s a scene in the movie where the family babysitter falls off the building.

Union Station in ‘The Untouchables’

Located at 255 South Canal Street, this site has become so well known, that the stairs used in the scene have been referred to as the “Untouchable’s Stairs.” The stairs are used when Kevin Costner, who plays special agent Elliot Ness, comes face-to-face with the henchmen of Al Capone for an epic shootout scene.

Union Station is known as a historical transportation hub that was built in 1925, and since 2012 has been going through a series of renovations to benefit the aesthetic and its functions. Brian De Palma chose to film here as he saw it as an ornate background for blood spills.

The Movie Theatre in ‘High Fidelity’

Located at Music Box Theatre on 3733 North Southport Avenue, the film “High Fidelity” is a movie homage to music, and how it is able to help people get through breakups and hard times.

The original 1995 novel’s original narrative takes place in author Nick Hornby’s home, London, and not Chicago. However, the story seems to translate easily into the Wicker Park neighborhood. One of the most notable scenes where our protagonist Rob talks to his ex was filmed at the Music Box Theatre, an iconic location in Chicago.

A Few Other Mentionable Sites

“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” used shots of Trump International Hotel & Tower. “The Fugitive” used the Lincoln Park neighborhood along with landmarks like the Chicago Hilton Hotel and Picasso statute in Daley Plaza.

Written by August Garrett
Edited by Sheena Robertson


News Channel Nebraska: 10 iconic filming locations in Chicago
NFI: Chicago Filming Locations: 56 Locations You Should Know
Hotels: 10 Movie Locations in Chicago

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Joel Olives’ Flickr Page -Creative Commons License
First Inset Image Courtesy of Wordridden’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Second Inset Image Courtesy of Anthony Lorenzo‘s Flickr Page Creative Commons License

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