Buon giorno, Btown! Celebrating 35 years of ‘Breaking Away’

As a non-native Bloomingtonian who grew up about 900 miles away in Connecticut, my initiation to the city and the beautiful Indiana University Bloomington campus was through Hoosier basketball, of course, and also the Academy Award winning movie “Breaking Away.” (True confession: my 8-year-old self frequently and proudly wore one of those Campagnolo cycling caps made popular in the film. Thankfully, no pictures exist of which I’m aware.)

Thirty-five years after its release, and on the eve of IU Bloomington’s annual Little 500 races that served as the basis for the movie, “Breaking Away” continues to captivate audiences as one of the most popular sports movies of all time. The movie, which introduced me and so many others to the “Cutters,” quarry diving and the nation’s premier intramural collegiate cycling event, has also been the subject of several fun stories in recent days, like this one on the IU alumnus who served as the inspiration for the movie’s main character, written by our friends at the Bloomington Herald-Times.

In 2004, when “Breaking Away” turned 25, the IU Newsroom encouraged fans of the movie to tour Btown through the lens of the movie, pointing out places, both on and off campus, where the movie was filmed. Feeling a little nostalgic, we at Btown Banter thought we’d share those places again for those who might’ve missed them 10 years ago or simply want to take another couple of laps around a movie that continues to maintain a special spot in campus and community lore.

Breaking Away tour of Bloomington

— Dave’s father, played by Paul Dooley, is a used car dealer who doesn’t appreciate his son’s aspirations. Today, his Campus Cars is home to the Perry Township government office. It is located at 1010 S. Walnut Ave.

— The Rose Well House, an open-air pavilion in the heart of campus, covers the original well for IU and was a gift from Theodore F. Rose in 1908. IU tradition holds that a female student is not officially a coed until she has been kissed beneath its dome at midnight. It also is the place where Dave confesses to his coed love, Katherine, played by Robyn Douglass, that he is not an Italian student but in fact a “cutter,” someone from the community, where limestone remains an important industry.

breaking away— The abandoned quarry where the four young local men talk about dreams and their futures today is off-limits to everyone because it is located on private property. Called either “The Long Hole” or “Sanders” quarry, it is owned by the Indiana Limestone Co. and is located on Empire Mill Road.

— The Commons of the Indiana Memorial Union, located at 900 E. Seventh St. on campus, is where Dave and his friends get into a fight with college students. It remains a gathering place today for many students and visitors to IU.

— The name of Delta Delta Delta sorority was temporarily changed for the making of the movie, but it is the place where Katherine is serenaded by Dave and Cyril. The sorority is located at 818 E. Third St. An online house tour is available online.

— The IU president’s office, where then IU President John Ryan announced that there would be a town team in Little 500, remains in Bryan Hall, located at the corner of Kirkwood and Indiana avenues near the Sample Gates. Those who knew Ryan, IU’s 14th president who passed away in 2011, will realize as they watch the movie that his voice was dubbed over.

— The restaurant where Dave and Katherine talk about their families and about Italy was known in 1979 as the Magic Horn restaurant and was located at 430 Fourth St. Today it is home to a Thai restaurant, Siam House.

— The Stohler home was located at 756 S. Lincoln St. and today is another family’s home.

— Little 500 race scenes were filmed in 10th Street or Memorial Stadium, where the IU Arboretum is now located. The last Little 500 race was held there in 1980, and the stadium was torn down in 1982. Today, the Arboretum is an ideal place for relaxation and study, with hundreds of trees and other greenery. It is located between the Main Library, the Radio-Television Building and the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. The LIttle 500 races are now held at Bill Armstrong Stadium on North Fee Lane.

The legendary "Cutters" from "Breaking Away," then and now.

The legendary “Cutters” from “Breaking Away,” then and now.

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