August 6th, 2009
06:26 PM ET

Seeing Chicago's North Shore through Hughes’ eyes

Every time I go home and drive around, it’s like a John Hughes movie. Hailing from the North Shore of Chicago –- Glenview specifically -– I can pause a Hughes movie at any point and show you where it was filmed. And now that he’s passed on, I think about my area through the lens of his movies.

Take "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Some scenes from the quintessential ‘80s flick were filmed at Glenbrook North High School, sister high school to my alma mater, Glenbrook South. I remember walking the grounds of the Northbrook school after weekly district orchestra rehearsals on Wednesdays. Sure, my boyfriend at the time didn’t pull up in a rad ride to pick me up, but I still stood on those steps.

Or "The Breakfast Club," which used the library of Maine North High School in Des Plaines. While the school has been closed for a number of years, fans can still drive down Harrison Street to catch a glimpse of the ‘80s-movie site. It is home to various state agencies and the Illinois State Police now.

And when I was about 7 years old, my parents made a short excursion to see the original house from “Home Alone,” a multimillion dollar property that sits in the upscale suburb of Winnetka. It was adorned in twinkling Christmas lights and the ground was covered in snow, much like it was in the movie.

Wherever I cruise around in suburbs of Chicago, I think of all those classic hits. Hughes’ films have certainly made me proud to say I’m from the North Shore.

How about you? How did Hughes’ movies affect your life? Which one’s your favorite? Tell us at

soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. 63 machine

    1 bong and i'm out like a light or i'll keep talking i'm not sure anymore its been a long time haaaaa

    wuzzup mike from michigan...high 5...done.

    December 27, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mike G

    A very nice story. I read some of the comments and I have to say there are a lot of sad and miserable people. Those who complained about Glenview not being part of the North Shore live in a dark and lonely cocoon. I've worked and visited at least one home and business in every community considered to be part of the North Shore in the last thirty years. It is definitely a unique setting with a flavor all its own. There is a consistency to the towns and villages not found anywhere else. I will definitely miss John Hughes take on society.

    August 20, 2009 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  3. Catherine

    Hey Renae - I got to hand it to you, you guys at ETHS had metal detectors before they were fashionable! And don't feel badly - I am sure if John Hughes had done a movie about teen gangs he woulda' filmed it there!

    August 9, 2009 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike from Michigan

    If Glenview is part of the North Shore, pleaee advise where that shore is?

    August 9, 2009 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. Steve

    Hey forget about Maine North or Main West (or for that matter, Maine East or Maine South, both of which were attended by Hillary C). I think the North Side of Chicago should be also included for "Taft" HS from whence "Grease" was based.

    August 8, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Gerry

    I grew up in Wilmette and went to New Trier, and my paper route (as a 10 year old kid )went right through the neighborhood of the houses in Home Alone. I also recognized many of the places in all the films.

    What is more important is that John Hughes' films catured life from a kid's perspective growing up, and in a midwestern Chicago suburban life. I totally related to his point of view, and it always seemed before that we always got LA/Hollywood or New York point of view. Occaisionally, some other places, in the south maybe. But nobody did the filmmaking from a Chicago suburban kid perspective like John Hughes. His films are all so quotable -we memorize them and watch them over and over like no others.....
    I'm 50 but my 19 and 14 year olds know and love all these films, and they did not grow up in the Chicago area....

    August 7, 2009 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kristi

    This is one of the saddest days in history. My favorite movies are John Hughes movies. I grew up in the 80's and in Texas, but I always wanted to live in Chicago and be friends with all of his characters!! I recently traveled to Chicago and fell in love. I now know why he filmed his movies there. I love John Hughes and all of his movies. He will truly be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

    August 7, 2009 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Renae -DC

    Only have one thing to say to those from New Trier HS–

    ETHS all the way baby! Class of '86.

    August 7, 2009 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sharon Coats

    His movies seemed "real", even when over the top zany. Being a Deep Southerner (Louisiana) who recently visited Chicago and fell in love with it, I always felt his characters could be my friends and family, minus the southern drawl. My prayers are with his family;59 is too young.

    August 7, 2009 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff


    Your experiences closely mirror mine, having grown up in Glenview, but splitting my time evenly between Glenbrook South and North. John Hughes really did shine a typically very funny and often poignant light on life of teens everywhere. But for those of us who day-to-day drove down the roads he filmed on, or got to look out at the "Save Ferris"-emblazoned water tower that a prior commenter, Bill, noted, it felt like he was writing and filming very specifically about us (or sometimes, precisely about me!). Obviously though, given his success, the messages and themes resonated broadly. But I still like to believe he had me and my friends in mind when he made those movies.

    I still get a kick out of seeing Ferris Bueller get picked up outside the auditorium door of Glenbrook North and driving his Ferrari down School Road. I enjoyed emulating that drive many times over - although it was in my slightly less capable, used, beige/yellow Plymouth Horizon. It's also fun to see all the kids I knew who landed little extra roles sitting on John Hughes' busses, walking his halls or populating his backgrounds.

    I think I know what my weekend plans are going to be - my own private John Hughes film festival.

    August 7, 2009 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mike C

    Growing up in Libertyville I felt I was on the "north shore", and anything north of Wrigley near the lake is the north shore- I dont know what northwests problem is-
    I have since moved and have not lived in Chicago area for almost a decade, I can still watch Johns movies and they remind me of high school and growing up in Chicagoland. I dont think anyone did not live there can feel the same connection.

    August 7, 2009 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  12. John R

    I grew up in Skokie–lived there over 30 years. I was living there when a scene from "She's Having a Baby" was filmed so close to my house that Paramount trucks were parked by the edge of our property. My brother lives walking distance (in Wilmette) from the big church featured in "Home Alone". I have always loved John's movies, and will miss him terribly. A terrible loss for Chicago, and a terrible loss for everyone.

    August 7, 2009 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. Tom

    The library used in the breakfast club is not the old Maine North library it was a Hollywood set. The hallways they run through, the steps they walk up after getting dropped off and the football field Bender walks though at the end is all the old Maine North High School which is now closed and is used as the 911 dispatch center for the Cook County Sheriffs Police and the Illinois State Police.

    August 7, 2009 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  14. nancy

    I grew up in Winnetka in the 60s in one of those multi-million dollar houses and even though I've since left it was one of the most wonderful places to have a childhood and to attend schools such as New Trier – Glenview North and South were our rivals! Hughes captured so much of these places that are so very much like they are today! As someone his age our hearts go out to his family and friends.

    August 7, 2009 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
  15. Bill

    No need for a new monument to honor Mr Hughes. It's already there, right in downtown Northbrook: the classic water tower from Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I've missed seeing the phrase "Save Ferris" since it was painted over more than 2 decades ago. Maybe "Thanks, John" is an appropriate message now.

    August 7, 2009 at 2:38 am | Report abuse |
  16. Frank

    very welll said....

    August 6, 2009 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  17. MoodyBlue

    Not to nitpick, but John Hughes was from Northbrook, IL and his films reflect far more of that village then that of Glenview.

    August 6, 2009 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Jennifer

    Me, too!! Living in Glencoe and working in Lake Forest, I felt like I lived in his movies. Growing up and going to New Trier made me feel so close to Hughes and his movies, especially The Breakfast Club.

    Much love to his family – he will be missed.

    August 6, 2009 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Amy

    Glenview is very North Shore and that area is a place that anyone could be proud to be from. Yes, we may want to escape (I certainly did and have) but it's home. What Christina has used as examples are places that Hughes portrayed in his movies and those places are truly emulate the North Shore ideology and culture. It seems, Northwest, that the only who with pretensions is you.

    August 6, 2009 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Robert

    As another person from the north shore, I don't think it's the kind of place anyone really wants to brag about being from, Glenview or otherwise

    August 6, 2009 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Northwest

    Please, Glenview is hardly North Shore. Enough with the pretensions of a wannabe.

    August 6, 2009 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |

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