Ferris Bueller's Day Off | 1986
Most of the locations for slacker classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off can be found around Chicago, of course – though not all of them. Like many John Hughes films, it’s set in the fictitious Illinois town of ‘Shermer’ (Shermerville was the name of Hughes’ neighbourhood of Northbrook until 1923).
The school, from which Ferris (Matthew Broderick) bunks off to spend a day freewheeling around the big city, is Glenbrook North High School, 2300 Shermer Road, Northbrook, a northern suburb of Chicago on the Metra rail North Line from Chicago’s Union Station.
The frontage, where Ferris poses as her dad to pick up Sloane (Mia Sara), is not the school’s main entrance, but the Center for Performing Arts. The hallways of Glenbrook North had previously been used in John Hughes’s The Breakfast Club.
Just to the north of Northbrook Station, between Cedar Lane and Meadow Road, you can see the famous ‘Save Ferris’ water tower. It’s finally been repainted and the lettering is now gone.
Ferris’s mum, Katy, works fairly locally in the Winnetka branch of real estate company Koenig and Strey, 583 Chestnut Street at the northwest corner of Elm Street, Winnetka. His dad, though, commutes to Chicago itself where his office is in the glass fronted block at 333 West Wacker Drive, overlooking the Chicago River.
The home of Cameron (Alan Ruck), where the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California, is kept in a state of pristine perfection, is 370 Beech Street, between Linden Avenue and Wade Street, Highland Park (Linden Avenue, by the way was home to Tom Cruise in his breakthrough movie Risky Business). With its glass walls overlooking a convenient gorge (the area isn’t called Ravinia for nothing), the location was ideal.
It’s off to the city, with inevitable landmark shots – the elaborate Tribune Tower, the twin ‘corncobs’ of Marina City, and the LaSalle Street Canyon (familiar from such films as The Untouchables and The Dark Knight). The parking garage in which Ferris leaves the Ferrari in the care of the sensitive and trustworthy attendant, can be seen on West Madison Street at Wells Street, just beneath Washington/Wells ‘el’ station.
First stop for Ferris, Sloane and Cameron is the Skydeck of Willis Tower, 233 South Wacker Drive – tallest building in the US and probably better known by its former name of Sears Tower – occupying the block surrounded by Franklin Street and Wacker Drive, Adams Street and Jackson Boulevard (CTA: Quincy Station; Pink, Brown, Purple and Orange Lines). Bruce Wayne goes one better, surveying the city from the very top of the building, in The Dark Knight.
The two guys in the bizarre hats, by the way, have no significance to the film at all. They were a couple of passers-by in town for the German-American parade seen later in the film.
Overlooking the trading floor of the Chicago Board of Trade, 141 West Jackson Boulevard, Ferris proposes to Sloane while Cameron practises his hand signals. The Board of Trade is the striking skyscraper at the foot of the LaSalle Street canyon (it served as the HQ of ‘Wayne Enterprises’ in Batman Begins). There are currently no tours.
‘Chez Quis’, the posh restaurant, in which Ferris manages to pass himself off as ‘Abe Froman, Sausage King of Chicago’ is a combination of two locations. The restaurant itself was in Los Angeles, but the exterior – since remodelled – is a private home at 22 West Schiller Street, between North State Parkway and North Dearborn Street, north of the Loop. Also in Los Angeles was the pizza house, where Dean Rooney searches for Ferris, which was in Brentwood.
The Dean misses seeing the trio on TV as they enjoy watching a game at Wrigley Field, 1060 West Addison Street (CTA: Addison Station; Red Line), at North Clark Street in Wrigleyville. Built in 1914, Wrigley Field is home to the Chicago Cubs and, naturally, a staple of Chicago films – such as About Last Night and The Blues Brothers
The painting which so entrances Cameron is Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. Fans of Stephen Sondheim will know this as the inspiration for his 1984 musical Sunday in the Park with George.
The parade Ferris joins with a rendition of Twist And Shout is a real annual German-American parade filmed on Dearborn Street, intercut with a restaging for the movie on the following Saturday, when 10,000 locals turned up in response to ads on the radio and in newspapers. You can see the scary orange statue of a giant mantis ready to prey on passers-by (now there’s a film just waiting to be made), at the junction of West Adams Street. Actually – it’s called Flamingo.
It’s at Glencoe Beach, at the end of Park Avenue in Glencoe on Lake Michigan between Highland Park and Winnetka, that Cameron gets catatonic after he notices the mileage on the Ferrari.
It’s 4160 Country Club Drive, just south of Virginia Country Club in Long Beach, which seems to be a popular house for filming: it was seen as the home of a murdered family in Red Dragon, and as the home of Preston Wasserstein (Robert Patrick Benedict) in the Risky Business parody in Not Another Teen Movie.