The Blues Brothers instantly became a special piece of cinema and Chicago history from the moment it hit the silver screen in 1980. Even today, it's not unusual to go to a Chicago sporting event and see two men wearing the jet black suit, fedora, and wayfarer sunglasses combo. Every Halloween, I see at least five sets of Jake and Elwood ringing doorbells and asking for candy. The film has become part of Chicago's history. The Blues Brothers has stood the test of time, but time has changed Chicago quite a bit. So let's take a look back at some of the filming locations in Chicago, and see what has changed and what has stayed the same.
Elwood's Apartment - 22 W. Van Buren Street
The noisy and shaky ‘L' level apartment of Elwood's was one of the locations that didn't stand the test of time. It was knocked down, but became a small park that sits in front of Plymouth Restaurant and Roof Top Bar. Much quieter than Elwood's apartment, the Plymouth offers one of Chicago's best year-round rooftop bars in the city. With some great daily specials, be sure to visit Plymouth or book a private party. So grab a drink and propose a toast to Jake and Elwood.
Ray's Music Exchange (300 E. 47th Street, Grand Boulevard)
One of the most famous scenes in The Blues Brothers, Jake and Elwood, needing to buy some instruments to help put the band together, visit Ray's Music Exchange. Who's Ray? Well, Ray Charles of course! One of the most excellently executed cameos in cinema history, complete with the blind Ray Charles shooting a magnum at a robber, was filmed at Shelly's Loan and Jewelry Co, which still stands today. When they were filming the flick, the art department painted a Ray's Music Exchange mural on the side of the shop. The mural still stands today, thanks to Shelly's who had a mural artist touch it up and rid it of graffiti back in 2001. If you have time, stop by the mural, or take a stop inside to see some Blues Brothers memorabilia and posters!
Soul Food Cafe (807 W. Maxwell Street)
Who could forget when Aretha Franklin busted out in song after she was disrespected by her husband for being a woman? She just wanted some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. This location was known by Nate's Deli for over 70 years, but closed its doors in 1995 when the University of Illinois in Chicago expanded. Nate says after the Blues Brother's scene was filmed and until it closed, its floor was packed with customers wanting to see the location and get some great food.
Bluesmobile Jumps Over a Bridge (East 95th Street Bridge, South Deering)
Never doubt the power of an old cop car.
James Brown Church Scene (Pilgrim Baptist Church, 9114 S. Burley Ave)
"Do you see the light?!"
The church in which Jake and Elwood receive the divine intervention, with the help of pastor James Brown of course, to put the band back together happens at Triple Rock Church. The actual location is modern day Pilgrim Baptist on the South Side of Chicago. The interior shots, where Jake glows in a heavenly blue light and back-flips down the aisle to the altar, were filmed in Los Angeles. The Pilgrim Pastor at the time wondered if the crew snuck into his church in Chicago to get the shots, because it looked so similar to what he saw on screen. The church still stands today, but looks much different after a fire and renovation in 2006.
The Nazis Take a Swim (Jackson Park)
"I hate Illinois Nazis!"
The Nazis block a bridge to protest at the beginning of The Blues Brothers. The duo takes matters into their own hands and drives them off the bridge to take a swim. The leader of the Nazis vows to kill The Blues Brothers, and boy, does he try. This bridge is located at Jackson Park in Chicago. Today, Jackson Park is part of the Chicago Park District and offers great programs for the city's youth. Be sure to check them out here, oh, and it's Illinois Nazi free.
Chez Paul Restaurant (660 N. Rush Street, Near North Side)
"How much for the girls?" Infamously known as "The Restaurant Scene," Jake and Elwood make a rude ruckus at the fancy Chez Paul in Chicago. Many see the resemblance in this scene and the resteraunt scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. This is because both were set at Chez Paul in Chicago's Gold Coast. Chez Paul has since closed, but lives on in two of the best Chicago comedies ever made.
Police Car Pileup (Lake and LaSalle, Lower Wacker)
Who could forget the cop car pileup? This hilariously overdone police chase ends with one of the biggest car crashes in cinema history. Okay, maybe comedy cinema history. None the less, an epic scene for any genre, this crash took place on Lake and LaSalle. So next time you drive by reminisce about the pileup scene, but pay attention to the road so you don't find yourself in a little fender bender too!
The Finale (Richard J. Daley Plaza, City Hall 121 N. LaSalle St)
Jake and Elwood scramble through Daley Plaza and into City Hall in order to pay off the $5,000 needed for St. Helen of the Blessed Shroud Orphanage. These Chicago landmarks are displayed throughout the finale as they are covered in light blue by surrounding Chicago cops. Towards the end of this clip, if you look closely at the man that helps approve the check in the clerk's office, you might be able to tell that it's a young Steven Spielberg making a cameo!
So there ya have it! Go out and visit the locations from this iconic movie and don't forget to make Jake and Elwood happy and listen to the Blues.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the individual authors and commenters and do not reflect the views of Choose Chicago.