Although it has been facing the wrecking ball for some time now, it was announced today that the Dixie Square Mall, the Chiacgo-suburbs shopping plaza famously featured in the 1980 musical comedy The Blues Brothers will finally be torn down. It joins a number of former Chicago locations that can now only be visited in the movie.
Opened in 1966 at 151st Street and Dixie Highway in the suburb of Harvey, the mall hosted some 60 merchants at its peak in the 1970s. By the time that director John Landis and film crew arrived in Chicago to film The Blues Brothers in 1979, the mall was already in financial trouble and had closed. In fact, it was its vacancy and availability for filming that lead to the creation of the the movie’s famous indoor car chase sequence.
The property sat vacant for more than three decades. In the last several years, Harvey officials have tried in vain to redevelop the site, with the property changing four times in the last six years. Finally last year, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn granted $4 million in state disaster relief funds to tear the crumbling building down.
In a statement, Harvey Mayor Eric Kellogg said –
The former Dixie Square Mall was once the heart of a thriving industrial community. However, the filming of this movie left the city of Harvey with an eyesore that has become one of the oldest white elephants in the country.
But Mayor Kellogg is being unfair and grossly mis-characterizing the film’s part in the mall’s history. The city was already in an economic downturn at the time and had a rising crime problem. It has been reported that many people were choosing other shopping centers in what could be considered safer neighborhoods. It was already a problem property before the film came to town. To state otherwise is to hide the city of Harvey’s own inability to do anything with the property over the last 30 years.
Here is the first of a four part look at the shooting of that famous sequence-
Via Chicago Tribune.