Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Walking Movie Site Tour of Chicago's Loop

“Come on, baby, don’t you want to go/Back to that same old place, sweet home, Chicago?” the Blues Brothers sang. Chicago is rich in movie filming locations, and a number of recent movies feature shots of Chicago’s downtown and Loop area. It’s easy to get to downtown via Metra, disembarking at Millennium Station; or almost any CTA elevated line. Parking in downtown Chicago is expensive, so public transportation is the best option. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a good map, and of course don’t forget your camera. There are an immense number of famous movie places that can be seen in just a small area in and around the Loop.

Start your walking tour at the Art Institute of Chicago at Michigan and Adams, in the heart of downtown. While the Chagall windows are being renovated as of fall 2009, you can visit “Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte,” as seen in Mandy Patinkin’s and Bernadette Peter’s Sunday in the Park with George and take a tour of the museum like Matthew Broderick did in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. When you’re done enjoying the museum, walk across Michigan Avenue, and continue following Matthew Broderick’s route in that o-so-hot red convertible by walking north up Michigan Avenue towards the river.

At the corner of Michigan and Washington you’ll see the Chicago Cultural Center. Formerly the headquarters of the Chicago Public Library system, the interior was featured in Brian De Palma’s masterpiece, The Untouchables. This movie about Elliot Ness’ battle with Al Capone starred Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, and Robert De Niro. Walk up the inlaid white Carerra marble staircase to admire the beautiful Tiffany dome on the second floor, the largest in the world.

Head back out to Michigan Avenue and continue your tour by heading north to the Chicago River. As you cross Randolph, look up at the former Associates building, now the Smurfit-Stone Building, featured in the climax of the movie Adventures in Babysitting. It’s popularly referred to as the “Diamond” building because of the slanted roof.

Keep walking north on Michigan, and take a moment to pop down the stairs at Lower Wacker Drive. The underbelly of Chicago appears in many movies, including Batman Begins. Harrison Ford approaches Jeroen Krabbe’s car in The Fugitive. Elisabeth Shue’s character bails out her car from “Thor” (Vincent D’Onofrio) in Adventures in Babysitting. Walking back up to Upper Wacker Drive you can see the spot where Sandra Bullock got her hot dog and had a chat with her boss in the movie While You Were Sleeping.

Cross the river and make a right onto one of the most filmed walkways in the city, along the banks of the Chicago River. It’s appeared inE.R., My Big Fat Greek Wedding, While You Were Sleeping, and many other movies and TV shows. Often filmed at night with the Wrigley building lit up in the background, it’s a standard scenery shot establishing the Chicago locale. Enjoy the art deco-style globe lights and the views of the oft-filmed Tribune Tower, and take a peek down at the Chicago River, seen in its dyed green state in The Fugitive, and covered with police boats in The Blues Brothers.

Cross back to the south bank of the Chicago River and continue your movie tour walking west along Upper Wacker Drive. Turn south at Clark Street. At Clark and Randolph you’ll see the Thompson Center, formerly the State of Illinois Center, with a huge glass atrium featured in the finale of Billy Crystal’s and Gregory Hines’ 1986 movie Running Scared. Continuing south on Clark you’ll pass the Cook County Building, 118 North Clark. The exterior scenes of the tax assessor’s office in The Blues Brothers were filmed here. One block south is the Daley Civic Center, 50 West Washington. Check out the Picasso bird-woman sculpture in Daley Plaza, also appearing in The Blues Brothers, Ferris Bueller, and many other Chicago movies.

From here, walk west one block to LaSalle, then turn left. Head south five blocks to Adams to see the post office from The Untouchables. Continue another block south to Jackson, then east two blocks to Dearborn. You’ll pass the signature Chicago Elevated tracks, or “El”. The tracks encircle downtown and form the loop of “The Loop.” The next stop on your movie tour of Chicago’s Loop: the Union League Club at 65 West Jackson, host to Julia Roberts inMy Best Friend’s Wedding. Continue east three blocks back to Michigan Avenue. This ends your loop of the Loop and your downtown Chicago movie tour.

If you have time and want a fun add-on on the near North side you can see a few more great Chicago movie sites. Catch a northbound #145 bus along Michigan and head north to Walton Street, two blocks north of Water Tower Place. You’ll see the famous Drake Hotel. Tom Cruise visited twice: once for and Risky Business and then again for Mission: Impossible. The Drake also appears in the climax of Geena Davis, Dustin Hoffman’s and Andy Garcia’s Hero, and My Best Friend’s Wedding. A few blocks west is the Newberry Library, survivor of the Great Chicago Fire and recent filming site for The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Thanks for coming on this Chicago movie tour and enjoy your visit to the Second City.

“Movie Locations”,

Internet Movie Data Base

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