Teen angst walk: Northbrook
"Everybody, in all my movies, is from Shermer, Illinois," John Hughes told Premiere magazine in 1999. The late screenwriter-director's hometown of Northbrook (original name: Shermerville) served as a backdrop for his seminal teen-angst flicks. And while Shermer is technically as real as Ferris's fever, a trip to north suburban Northbrook is as close as one can get to truly walking in his characters' footsteps.
START Northbrook Metra station END Northbrook Metra station DISTANCE 3 miles TIME 1 hour, 30 minutes
Unless you’ve borrowed your friend’s dad’s sports car, take Metra’s Milwaukee District North Line to the Northbrook stop (1401 Shermer Rd). Hang a right outside the station at Shermer and a left at Church Street and walk until you hit Sunset Foods (1127 Church St, 847-272-7700). Pushing a cart down the aisles of this gourmet grocer, teens-cum-newlyweds Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth McGovern shopped and squabbled in the 1988 dramedy She’s Having a Baby. If you’re thinking “the Donger need food,” pack nourishment for the road or go around the corner to Kamehachi (1320 Shermer Rd, 847-562-0064) for sushi—Molly Ringwald’s Saturday detention lunch of choice in The Breakfast Club.
Follow Church Street east, which turns into Cherry Lane. Immediately over the train tracks sits Northbrook’s baby blue SAVE FERRIS water tower—famously used as a sight gag in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The painted plea is long gone, and the 57-year-old tower might soon follow; Northbrook is looking to replace it. Save SAVE FERRIS tower, anyone?
Tramp west down the grassy embankment behind the tower and at the Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Ln, 847-272-6224), hang a left. On Cedar Lane between Cherry Lane and Center Avenue, near Northbrook Village Hall (1225 Cedar Ln, 847-272-5050), Samantha (Ringwald) peels herself off a school bus after getting macked on by Anthony Michael Hall’s flirtbag “The Geek” in Sixteen Candles. “I loathe the bus,” she says. “There has to be a more dignified mode of transportation.” Yeah, it’s called walking!
Now make like Ferris Bueller and run. Trying to beat his parents (and vengeful sister) home, the lovable truant darts through backyards on Butternut Lane in Northbrook’s Highlands neighborhood. Get there from the library by going west on Cherry Lane for three blocks and hanging a right on Butternut Lane.
Keep heading north on Butternut until you hit Crabtree Lane. You might recognize the stately white home at 2224 North Crabtree as the party house in Uncle Buck (pictured). You know the scene: The titular well-intentioned but overbearing uncle (John Candy) drills his way through the door, only to discover his niece’s boyfriend, Bug, sucking face with some random bimbo.
Go east on Crabtree Lane, right down Cedar Lane for three blocks, then left at Maple Avenue. At Shermer Road, hang a right and walk a mile south to Hughes’s alma mater, Glenbrook North High School (2300 Shermer Rd, 847-272-6400). It served as the exterior of Shermer High in FBDO, where Ferris picks up GF Sloane in the iconic red Ferrari by posing as her father. (As in The Breakfast Club, Hughes used Maine North High School in Des Plaines for interiors.)
Then stroll the school’s football-field end zone where überrebel burnout John Bender (Judd Nelson) caps off The Breakfast Club with a triumphant fist pump. Before marching north on Shermer Road to the Metra station, cue Simple Minds on your Walkman, er, iPod. The only thing missing is the freeze-frame.
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