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 suits, fedoras, and wayfarer sunglasses combo that made John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd instant icons. Every Halloween, I see at least five sets of Jake and Elwood ringing doorbells and asking for candy.
The Blues Brothers has become part of Chicago history, and has stood the test of time. Time, however, has changed Chicago quite a bit. So let's take a look at some of the Blues Brothers' film locations today.
Elwood's Apartment - 22 W Van Buren St
Elwood's noisy, shaky ‘L' level apartment was one of the locations that didn't stand the test of time. Today, it's a small park that sits in front of Plymouth Restaurant and Roof Top Bar (327 S Plymouth Ct). Much quieter than Elwood's apartment, the three-level Plymouth offers one of Chicago's best year-round rooftop spots in the city. Grab a drink and propose a toast to Jake and Elwood.
Ray's Music Exchange - 300 E 47th St, Grand Boulevard
In one of the most famous scenes in The Blues Brothers, Jake and Elwood visit Ray's Music Exchange, needing to buy some instruments to help put the band together. 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 remains, thanks to the folks at 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 Blues Brothers memorabilia and posters.
Soul Food Cafe - 807 W Maxwell St
Who could forget Aretha Franklin busting out in song after she was disrespected by her husband for being a woman? She just wanted a little 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.
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, thappens 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, since it looked so very similar 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 take matters into their own hands and drive 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 programming for the city's youth. Oh, and it's Nazi free.
Chez Paul Restaurant - 660 N Rush St, 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 restaurant scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. This is because both were set at Chez Paul in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. 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 possibly 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; you don't want a little fender bender of your own!
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 who 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 appearance.
So there ya have it. Go out and visit the locations from this iconic movie! And if you want to and don't make Jake and Elwood especially happy, come see the Chicago Blues Festival, June 8-10, 2018 at Millennium Park.