Maxwell Street

Maxwell Street (HM2B4U)

Location: Chicago, IL 60607 Cook County
Buy Illinois State flags at!
Country: United States of America
Buy United States of America flags at!

N 41° 51.891', W 87° 38.769'

  • 0 check ins
  • 0 favorites

Evolution of a Neighborhood

Side One
By the 1930s, the market was thriving, attracting 50,000 people on a typical Sunday. Depression-Chicagoans were in dire need of low-priced food clothing, and other everyday household goods. Maxwell Street provided an arena for budding entrepreneurs to sell what they could to make a living and for consumers to buy at low prices. The aroma of hot dogs, polish sausages, and onions wafted through the air, mixing with the incessant cries of "pullers" trying to lure bargain hunters to particular vendors.In 1939, merchants formed the Maxwell Street Merchant's Association, headquartered at 722 West Maxwell Street,to manage the area's booming commerce, Representing roughly two-hundred store owners, a hundred pushcart operators, and over two-hundred stand owners, the Merchants Association sought to improve the image of the market, leading a golden age of commerce along Maxwell Street in the 1940s and 1950s.
In the postwar period, these predominantly eastern European entrepreneurs were joined by African-
Americans and Mexicans migrating from the South, adding to the neighborhood''s ethnic diversity. With the new ethnic groups came new sights and sounds
and smells as the scent of enchiladas mingled with that of polish sausages under a steel-guitar soundtrack of electrified blues.
The coming of the automobile

changed the market,especially when potential customers began taking the new expressways-and their business- out to the suburbs. In the late 1950s, the Dan Ryan Expressway cut through a portion of Maxwell Street, shrinking the
market and shifting it westward. The opening of the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle in 1965 displaced some long-time customers but also brought thousands of students to the neighborhood. The area thus continued to be a vibrant attraction for entrepreneurs, shoppers, and lovers of street music and entertainment throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
By the late 1970s, however, the Maxwell Street Market had begun to decline. Proximity to downtown Chicago made it a prime target for economic redevelopment, and numerous plans for the street''s transformation inhibited building renovation, leading to further deterioration. In the 1990s, the nearby
University of Illinois at Chicago was growing and in need of new facilities to serve its 25,000 students many of whom, like the early residents and merchants of Maxwell Street, were immigrants. In 1994, the city
relocated the Maxwell Street Market to the east, along Canal Street. The university meanwhile began a lengthy process of redevelopment and expansion that ultimately would see the creation of housing for thousands of students and community residents, new academic
facilities, and refurbished space for

dozens of businesses. This exhibit invites us to imagine the colorful
architectural landmarks. This exhibit invites us to imagine the colorful history of the Maxwell Street Market through photographs, sculptures, and adaptive-reuse architectural landmarks. The spirit of Maxwell Street lives on here in the continuing ethnic diversity and commercial entrepreneurship of a new generation of Chicagoans.
Side Two
A Vibrant Chapter in Chicago's Commercial and Music History

Maxwell Street was once Chicago's theater of commerce and enterprise. In the marketplace of this vibrant street, people of all races and cultures were
drawn together by the desire for a bargain and the hope of a profit. Jewish immigrants first brought the
sights and sounds and smells of Old World traditions,foods, and customs to the Near West Side in the 1880s. Over the years, other races and cultures added new sights, smells, and sounds, such as the haunting chords of the blues and the spicy scent of enchiladas, to create a uniquely Chicago experience.
1837, Maxwell Street, one of the original boundaries of Chicago, was only two miles long,running from the Chicago River on the east to Halsted
Street and then to Blue Island Avenue on the west.It was named for Dr. Philip Maxwell, a surgeon at Fort Dearborn who went on to set up a practice in the city. Later, as the name

implies, Maxwell Street became the original site of the famous Maxwell Street Market.
Its evolution mirrored the shift in American mercantilism from open-air market to retail store.
After the Great Chicago Fire destroyed much of the city''s livable area, the Near West Side, which survived fairly unscathed, served as a settling place
for the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were then flooding into the city. The area quickly became
a nexus for a great many ethnic groups. It was in this tremendously diverse community that, in the 1890s,Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia began t buy and sell produce, housewares, clothing, shoes,and sundries-mostly secondhand and always at bargain prices-from pushcarts and barrels in front their residences. This early form of the market started on Jefferson Street and grew until it spilled over onto Maxwell.
In response to the increasing commercial vitality of Maxwell Street, a 1912 city ordinance set about applying some regulation-such as a ten-cents-a-day
fee for the pushcarts-to the market''s previously unhampered free trade. This ordinance marks the formal establishment of the market by the city. By the 1920s, Maxwell Street sales were estimated at 1$ million to $2 million a month and ranked third in Chicago.
HM NumberHM2B4U
Placed ByUniversity Village Marketplace, University of Illinois
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 4th, 2018 at 11:03am PDT -07:00
Sorry, but we don't have a picture of this historical marker yet. If you have a picture, please share it with us. It's simple to do. 1) Become a member. 2) Adopt this historical marker listing. 3) Upload the picture.
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16T E 446374 N 4634972
Decimal Degrees41.86485000, -87.64615000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 41° 51.891', W 87° 38.769'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds41° 51' 53.46" N, 87° 38' 46.14" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)312, 773, 847
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 732 W Maxwell St, Chicago IL 60607, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

Is this marker missing? Are the coordinates wrong? Do you have additional information that you would like to share with us? If so, check in.

Check Ins  check in   |    all

Have you seen this marker? If so, check in and tell us about it.

Comments 0 comments

Maintenance Issues
  1. Is this marker part of a series?
  2. What historical period does the marker represent?
  3. What historical place does the marker represent?
  4. What type of marker is it?
  5. What class is the marker?
  6. What style is the marker?
  7. Does the marker have a number?
  8. What year was the marker erected?
  9. This marker needs at least one picture.
  10. Can this marker be seen from the road?
  11. Is the marker in the median?