Hill Street Blues (TV Series 1981–1987) Poster



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  • Since the show took place in a seedy, crime-laden city, the producers did not want to unfairly depict a US city. So they went to great lengths to avoid specifying where the show took place. The call letters of local TV stations were obscured to avoid showing whether they began with "W" (indicating east of the Mississippi) or "K" (indicating west of the Mississippi). Steven Bochco has stated that he wanted the setting to resemble several blue collar, cold weather cities such as Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo.

    There were many clues, though, that the series took place in the Midwest or Northeast.

    Some clues include:

    In the episode "Fuched Again", several officers take a plane trip to Las Vegas. When they run into Leo's Schnitz's estranged wife, she refers to them as "friends from back East." This would eliminate states such as Nevada and California.

    In the episode "Gung Ho", a woman mentions committing crimes in Santa Fe, New Mexico, York, Pennsylvania and Newark, New Jersey. If the show was set in one of those states, she probably would not have used both the city and state name when mentioning the locations, thus ruling out New Mexico, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

    In the episode, "Hacked to Pieces", Mayor Cleveland's son, Lee, is desperate to get help for his addictions and wants to be sent to a special clinic in Rockford. Rockford, Illinois is located about 75 miles west of Chicago.

    In the episode "Blood Money", a friend of Phil Esterhaus mentions that he has a cabin at Lake Lackawanna. Hill, Renko and Coffey overhear them talking and invite themselves to spend the weekend fishing there. Lake Lackawanna is part of a state park in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Thus it would make sense that the setting for the show was within driving distance of Pennsylvania.

    In the episode "Fruits of the Poisonous Tree", the state flag for Illinois is clearly visible over the Judge's left shoulder in the courtroom scenes.

    Office Joe Coffey has a noticeable New York accent. In the episode "Cranky Streets", Joe mentions that he is in "the old neighborhood" which implies that he is originally from the area which the show takes place.

    In the episode "Mayo, Hold the Pickle", Bates and Coffey pick up tourists who state they are from Rochester, New York and on their way back from Phoenix. This would eliminate New York since they likely would have just said they were from Rochester if the setting was New York.

    In the episode "In the Belly of the Bus", Belker gets trapped in a bus that is travelling to Springfield. He is able to make it back to the station by the end of the day. Springfield, Illinois is approximately 3 hours away from Chicago.

    In the episode "Oh, You Kid", Buntz mentions that a suspect is from Oklahoma and his out of state records did not come through. This would eliminate Oklahoma. Edit (Coming Soon)


The FAQ items below may give away important plot points.

  • Five. Phil Esterhaus was the original role call sergeant. Henry Goldblume temporarily filled in while Esterhaus was sick. After Esterhaus passed away, Lucy Bates took it over for half of a season. The following season, Stan Jablonski was brought in from another precinct to perform the role call. After he had a heart attack and resigned, Howard Hunter, after being suspended from field duty, took over role call. In the episode "Blues in the Night (1985)," it is learned that there is a nighttime role call as well. Sergeant Jenkins is the nighttime role call sergeant. Edit (Coming Soon)

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