Lincoln Park gets 1930s makeover for Dillinger movie

It is 1934 in parts of Lincoln Park this week as a movie crew works to recreate the look of the neighborhood as it was when bank robber John Dillinger was on the prowl.

Dillinger was shot and killed by FBI agents in the alley two buildings south of Lincoln Park's Biograph Theatre at 2433 N. Lincoln, on July 22 that year.

The movie, "Public Enemies," starring Johnny Depp as the infamous stick-up man, is being filmed in the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue through Friday.  

Christian Bale stars as Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent who led the manhunt for Dillinger.

Street car tracks created for the movie "Public Enemies." / Photo by Mary Brophy

On Tuesday, crew members worked to transform the Biograph and storefronts along the street to look like 1930s buildings.

"We're recreating the set as it was back in the day, " said Kerry Sanders, 47, Chicago Art Director for PE Productions.

Passersby stopped to admire and photograph the quaint looking shops, including the National Tea Co. Food Store next to the Biograph. The street is open to foot and vehicle traffic during periods when there is no filming.

A replica of streetcar tracks and bricks that look old but feel bouncy runs down the center of Lincoln Avenue.

Sanders said the production crew attached nearly 1,000 sheets of the rubberized bricks to create the look.

A shop on Lincoln Avenue undergoes a 1930s makeover. / Photo by Mary Brophy

The CVS Pharmacy, at 2414 N. Lincoln Avenue, is shrouded with a dark awning and its red and white logo has been replaced with a vintage sign featuring a mortar and pestle and the words "Rx Drugs".

The display window of Uncle Dan's, an outdoor clothing and equipment store at 2440 N. Lincoln Avenue, has been retrofitted to look like a 1930's clothing shop, with headless mannequins modeling calf-length dresses.

Matt Costello, 23, a sales associate at Uncle Dan's, said the production crews did much of their work away from the store, attaching ready-made parts to the storefront. Marla Lee, 28, brought her camera to work and took pictures of Lincoln Avenue's new 1930s makeover.

R.J. Maricich, 25, said the production company pays stores for participating in the film set.

"We run an average of what we make," he said. "If we didn't meet that average, they would pay the difference."

Asked whether the filming was attracting customers, Maricich said "business has been pretty good for us. "

David Fulton, a publicist for the film, said the crew has been shooting in several other Chicago locations as well, including  the Pittsfield Building at 55 E. Washington and Union Station at Jackson and Canal.

"We're shooting a lot in Chicago for the next month," Fulton said. He said he could not be more specific about other locations for security reasons.

The film, directed by Michael Mann,  is tentatively scheduled for release in July 2009. Filming locations also include sites in Wisconsin and Indiana.


FRANK EDWARDS, 05-30-2008

Great reporting Mary!

E. ROSE KASINECZ, 06-17-2008

love the shots!