This story ran in DNAinfo in 2016. Bob Newhart addressed his nonsensical CTA commute on the “Conan” show. We’re republishing it in honor of his Edgewater condo building being honored with a plaque this week.
EDGEWATER — As city commutes go, Bob Hartley might have had the strangest.
Hartley — a fictional psychologist who was played by award-winning comedian Bob Newhart on his show set in Chicago from 1972-78 — walked across multiple Downtown bridges in opposite directions before ultimately heading to Evanston. He then got off the “L” and walked 6.5 miles back to an Edgewater condo building, where he purportedly lived on the show.
The bizarre commute was supposedly a daily trip for the character made famous by Newhart, an Oak Park native who turned 87 Monday.
And he didn’t seem to mind.
Hartley’s journey, according to the opening sequence of the “Bob Newhart” show, begins at what is now the Charles Schwab building at 430 N. Michigan Ave., where after a flash of the show’s title, Newhart begins heading north.
Curiously, the next shot shows Newhart a block south, at the other end of the DuSable (Michigan Avenue) Bridge, walking north toward the office he just left.
From there, Newhart appears to be heading west toward another bridge along the Chicago River, before another shot of him walking (apparently) south across another bridge.
Newhart is then seen rounding a corner walking east before an overhead shot shows him jaunting south along the walking portion of the Wabash Avenue Bridge.
At this point, any reasonable Chicagoan might think Newhart is lost. But he presses on.
Once he presumably reaches Downtown from heading south on Wabash, Newhart jumps an elevated train in the Loop, possibly the State/Lake stop.
Though when he boards the train it appears to be headed north, it takes a southbound trajectory after Newhart sits down to read the paper.
That train is then seen heading north across the Wells Street Bridge, which holds the Brown and Purple lines.
For whatever reason, Newhart is seen departing the former Isabella Street station in Evanston (which closed the year after the opening sequence was filmed). He clearly exits a train headed south from northern Evanston.
After an already long and pointless trek, Newhart apparently has no problem taking an extra two hours to walk the 6.5 miles from the Evanston station to his home in the Thorndale Beach Condominiums in Edgewater.
On Monday night, Newhart, 87, was asked about his commute by Conan O’Brien on “Conan.” Newhart said he still gets asked about it.
“I get on what in Chicago was the Ravenswood ‘L,’ and I’m taking that, I’m going home from the office. And I get off, the little station I get off at, that’s on the ground. The ‘L’ at some point goes on the ground, which is about 55 blocks from our apartment. I do this every day. I miss my stop and walk back 55 blocks to our apartment. Now, would you want a therapist who missed his stop every day?”
Newhart might opt for a car service today.
Or, like most of us, he would probably just have hopped the Red Line at Grand Avenue and taken it straight to Thorndale Avenue, about two blocks from his home.
Whatever the fictional psychologist’s reason was for the hourslong hike, “The Bob Newhart Show” was a Chicago favorite that has become a piece of classic city history.
At Navy Pier, a statue of Newhart’s character sits next to a couch, and at Loyola University in Rogers Park, the Newhart Family Theater is stationed within the Mundelein Center for Fine and Performing Arts.
Newhart is a 1952 graduate of the university’s business school.
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