Requiem for Maxwell Street


| December 21, 2000


Requiem for Maxwell Street, Alan P. Mamoser, New City
'Most folks on Maxwell Street knew their days there were numbered when the university came into the picture,' writes Alan P. Mamoser in New City. What was once a bustling, colorful Chicago street market is now fanning its fading embers as the University of Illinois (UIC) completes its decades-old plans for expansion. Today, neighborhood old-timers and city lovers mourn Maxwell Street's slow and painful demise. Mamoser traces the street's history as an 'Ellis Island' of the Midwest: Every new influx of people would first come to Maxwell and leave their mark, but wouldn't stick around for long. 'Irish and German workers built the brick churches,' writes Mamoser, 'Jewish immigrants made the market street...[and] Southern blacks gave a new style of music: the urban electric blues.' A little bit of this spirit remains, with a small flea market and Mexican food stands, even after UIC physically lifted the market and plopped down on the other side of the Dan Ryan Expressway. 'But the place exudes impermanence,' mourns Mamoser, 'a banished soul.'
--Amanda Luker
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