Don't like to read?
Chicago has been one of the top three cities popular with filmmakers since the early 1990s. Thanks to the city’s cultural significance and leadership in independent filmmaking and movie patronage, dozens of locations in the Windy City were used for film sets for various famous movies.
Younger’s New House in ‘A Raisin in the Sun’
Located on 4930 West Hirsch Street in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, this house was used in the famous film based on Lorraine Hansberry’s notorious play. The 1961 film follows an African American family, the Younger’s 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 it is also a metaphor that represents the family’s dreams and their social status of being Black in America. Although Austin is now a predominately Black community, at the time the movie was filmed, it was predominantly white. Some white families protested 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 ‘Thief’
“Thief’ is a gritty neo-noir movie following one man’s life of crime. The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, located on 4802 North Broadway, is now referred to as the Green Mill.
Its history dates back 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 being brutally attacked.
Another fact related to Green Mill is that its story directly relates to “Thief.” Its director, Michael Mann, filmed what was likely the location’s identical replica being blown up. The Green Mill is located in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. It is considered the area’s most sought-out attraction for tourists and film buffs.
Tunnel Chase Scene in ‘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 before navigation apps. This makes chase scenes in the tunnel even more adrenaline-inducing and disorienting.
Additionally, the former IBM building located at 330 North Wabash Avenue served as headquarters for Wayne Enterprises, and the Old Chicago Main Post Office served as the location for the bank robbery scene.
Bridge from the ‘Bridge Jump Scene’ in Movie ‘The Blues Brothers’
Located on East 95th Street Bridge and is used in John Landis’ musical comedy “The Blues Brothers.” The film follows Elwood and Jake Blues. As they’re on the way back home after Jake’s release from prison, they drive a repurposed cop car they call the “Bluesmobile” over the 95th Street Bridge.
This seems harmless until the audience realizes that the brothers are using this bridge as its 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 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.
Cabrini Rowhouses in the ‘Candyman’ Films
Filmmakers used the rowhouses on the 900 block of North Cleveland Avenue to produce the horror film “Candyman” 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. However, these projects became predominately Black, and because of budget cuts, 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, many of the original Rowhouses used in the film exist today. This is why the 1992 and 2021 renditions of “Candyman” are considered to have been made in a bad or unsafe neighborhood. The Chicago Housing Authority has attempted to improve the area after a 2013 lawsuit. However, the renovation is slow-moving.
Cameron’s Highland Park House in ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’
The house used in this film, 370 Beech Street, 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 Highland Park, north of downtown Chicago and borders Lake Michigan.
Atlantic City Nine Ball Classic in ‘The Color of Money’
“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 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 Chicago’s Navy Pier, located at 600 East Grand Avenue.
The pier is a huge cultural center in Chicago, with a beer garden, children’s museum, Shakespeare Theatre, and more.
Andy’s Apartment in ‘Child’s Play’ (1988)
The Brewster Apartments on 2800 North Pine Grove Avenue, were perfect for representing one of the most terrifying elements of “Child’s Play:” How domestic space is often violated.
Additionally, Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal used the Brewster Apartment when filming Running Scared.” There is a creepy history behind these apartments. In 1895, WBEZ Chicago reported that 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’
The location at 255 South Canal Street is so well known that the stairs used in the scene have been referred to as the “Untouchable’s Stairs.” The stairs were used when Kevin Costner, as special agent Elliot Ness, comes face-to-face with Al Capone’s henchmen in an epic shootout scene.
Union Station is known as a historical transportation hub that was built in 1925 and, since 2012, has undergone a series of aesthetic and functional renovations. Brian De Palma chose to film here as he saw it as an ornate background for blood spills.
The Movie Theatre in ‘High Fidelity’
“High Fidelity” is a movie homage to music’s ability 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 between Rob, the protagonist, and his ex was filmed at Chicago’s iconic Music Box Theatre at 3733 North Southport Avenue.
A Few Other Mentionable Sites
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” used shots of the 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