New Maxwell Street Market, City of Chicago - The Traveller


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Thursday, September 3, 2015

New Maxwell Street Market, City of Chicago

Credit: City of Chicago

Maxwell Street Market

Maxwell Streetan east west street in Chicago, Illinois intersects with Halsted Street towards south of Roosevelt Road. The Maxwell Street Market is located from Halsted Street to 16th street and though there were many fine stationary departmental stores there, a notable feature of the area was its open air market; predecessor to the flea market scene in Chicago.

 One can purchase, all legal as well as illegal products here. The Maxwell Street neighbourhood is part of the Near West Side and one of the city’s oldest residential regions. It is considered as the location of the celebrated Maxwell Street Market as well as the birthplace of Chicago Blues and the Maxwell Street Polish – sausage sandwich.

Inexperienced entrepreneurs in need of jobs and quick cash had come to Maxwell Street and according to many it was the largest open air market in the country to earn a living. Maxwell Street offered discounts to consumers on most of the items from clothes to produce, car, appliances, tools and much more and was an economic hub for poor people interested in improving their way of living. Merchandise was considered to have originated from pirated or hijacked etc. for quick resale and distribution of articles.

Important Change in American Retail/Economic History

The Maxwell Street Market was an important change in American retail as well as economic history. It was a response as well as rejection to stand-alone retail institutions together with their price structures. In a period of political change and civil unrest,Maxwell Street Market seemed to flourished as a multicultural occurrence where each group and culture respected the others and interacted beyond their prevailing national issues.

Maxwell Street was called the Ellis Island of the Midwest and the local politics were interested in the market’s audience. At the time of election, several placards as well as signs were brought and everything seemed to be well organised.

Spot holders, roamed the streets, interacting with vendors in order to maintain regular vending spots for which discreet cash payments were accepted and those that were cost free often had their spots taken over by other vendors. Maxwell Street Market was moved in 1994 by the City of Chicago for the expansion of the University of Illinois at Chicago and was relocated few blocks further east to Canal Street and was renamed, the New Maxwell Street Market.

Maintain International Flavour till Date

Till date, the New Maxwell Street Market still maintains the international flavour where some people come for the bargains on new as well as used items while others just come for the street food. The food vendors at the market dish up some of the widely considered best street eats in the city.

 Thereafter, in September 2008, Maxwell Street Market was once again moved to Des Plaines Avenue. Maxwell Street has been one of Chicago’s most unconventional business as well as residential regions. Around a mile long and placed in the shadow of downtown skyscrapers, it tends to be a place where businesses tend to grow selling almost anything from small items to expensive clothes.

The tradition follows till date at Maxwell Street Market featuring bargains with international taste all year round on Sundays from 7am to 3pm.

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