Requiem for Maxwell Street

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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