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Old 06-03-2008, 01:22 PM
 
1,989 posts, read 4,443,186 times
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I recently moved back to the Chicago area after 15+ years out of state. This weekend we have guests coming to town.

Back in the day, before UIC expanded, I used to visit (and occasionally even work a vendor booth at) the Sunday Maxwell Street Market. Just as they were shutting it down, cleaning it up and "licensing" it, we moved.

I know some form of the market is still there-- can anyone give me a sense of the scale and flavor?

Are the guys still selling all kinds of crazy food from carts? Do people still bring their junk drawers and dump them on the pavement to sell unidentifiable crap? Are there still street musicians of various and arguable talent levels?

I'm hoping the answer is yes. But if not, give me an idea of whether it's worth the trip early on a Sunday.

THANKS!
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Old 06-03-2008, 02:11 PM
 
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Well, the market has been moved to Canal St. because Maxwell St. is (for all intents and purposes) non-existent. The University Village redevelopment area straddling Halsted south of Roosevelt has "rebuilt" a part of the old Maxwell St., but it is really no more than a stage front and rather contrived.

It's trying to be "Maxwell St." without actually being Maxwell St. - if you understand what I mean.
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Old 06-03-2008, 02:15 PM
 
2,329 posts, read 6,596,287 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mendelman View Post
Well, the market has been moved to Canal St. because Maxwell St. is (for all intents and purposes) non-existent. The University Village redevelopment area straddling Halsted south of Roosevelt has "rebuilt" a part of the old Maxwell St., but it is really no more than a stage front and rather contrived.

It's trying to be "Maxwell St." without actually being Maxwell St. - if you understand what I mean.
Yea, its a Disneyfied version. Its actually embarrassing the way they redeveloped some of those sections (parking garages with fake facades made to look like old buildings, etc). I realize it wasnt the best part of the city at the time. But I think the way they went about acquiring that land for UIC and kicking out all the poor residents (who gave so much to Chicago's culture) is really shady.

And I think I had heard the physical market itself is going to get moved again (to a more "permanent" home) The city is doing everything possible to kill it.
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Old 06-03-2008, 02:29 PM
 
Location: Chicago
249 posts, read 680,085 times
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The market in its new location is overwhelmingly Hispanic as far as the vendors go -- in keeping with the tradition of Maxwell Street being the launching point for immigrants' entrepreneurial careers. Musicians not as prominent as in the past, but I seem to remember someone set up at the south end of the market at 16th Street. As far as the merchandise available, the first three things I would think of are used power tools (fell off the truck specials), tube socks and, from any of the Hispanic food carts, eyeball tacos.
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Old 06-03-2008, 07:34 PM
 
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Sorry to hear about the weird Disneyfication. My favorite thing about Maxwell Street was that it wasn't "sanitized for your protection."

Ah, well.

Then again "fell off the truck specials" and "eyeball tacos" have a familiar ring to them.

How many blocks of action are there?
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Old 06-03-2008, 08:01 PM
 
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The Sunday flea market extends about three blocks north and four block south of Roosevelt, and is actually larger than the old Maxwell street peddler's market. Its the place to go for used tools. Actually, it is really a colorful experience and one many people would like.
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Old 06-04-2008, 09:12 AM
 
Location: Jonquil City (aka Smyrna) Georgia- by Atlanta
16,259 posts, read 24,622,682 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mendelman View Post
Well, the market has been moved to Canal St. because Maxwell St. is (for all intents and purposes) non-existent. The University Village redevelopment area straddling Halsted south of Roosevelt has "rebuilt" a part of the old Maxwell St., but it is really no more than a stage front and rather contrived.

It's trying to be "Maxwell St." without actually being Maxwell St. - if you understand what I mean.
The market might have moved to Canal St but down here in South Chicago (aka Atlanta GA), it is still a "Maxwell Street Polish" at the Chicago Dog stands around town. I really hope they do not change it to a "Canal St Polish" because it just don't sound right.
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Old 06-04-2008, 09:13 AM
 
Location: Jonquil City (aka Smyrna) Georgia- by Atlanta
16,259 posts, read 24,622,682 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manigault View Post
The Sunday flea market extends about three blocks north and four block south of Roosevelt, and is actually larger than the old Maxwell street peddler's market. Its the place to go for used tools. Actually, it is really a colorful experience and one many people would like.
Always was the place to go for tools. Everytime a tradesman got ripped off working in the South Loop, he would just stroll over there and buy his tools back!
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Old 06-04-2008, 09:49 AM
 
2,329 posts, read 6,596,287 times
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Originally Posted by KevK View Post
Always was the place to go for tools. Everytime a tradesman got ripped off working in the South Loop, he would just stroll over there and buy his tools back!
You could buy your hubcaps back too!
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Old 06-04-2008, 02:53 PM
 
Location: University Village
440 posts, read 1,493,802 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cohdane View Post
Sorry to hear about the weird Disneyfication. My favorite thing about Maxwell Street was that it wasn't "sanitized for your protection."

Ah, well.

Then again "fell off the truck specials" and "eyeball tacos" have a familiar ring to them.

How many blocks of action are there?
The market runs on Canal from 16th to Taylor.

There is nothing weird and there is nothing "Disneyfied" about Maxwell Street. The neighborhood today is far more real and far more functional than the old one ever was. I mean, if a plain-old neighborhood ain't real, somebody is living in an alternate universe.

There ARE still plenty of rat-infested tenements in North Lawndale for your viewing entertainment though, so maybe you should consider taking your friends there for a real "unsanitized" Chicago experience. Start with lunch at Wallace's catfish at Madison/California, pick a side street just west and walk south until you get to Roosevelt Road. You might have to walk back to California to cross the Ike and/or the railroad tracks, but you'll definitely feel like you are in "real" Chicago. Who knows, you might even be able to cop some crack cocaine to take home as a souvenier! Think of the stories!

If, on the other hand, you are simply one of those geek tourists who used to come from the suburbs and North Side to Maxwell to gawk and feel superior to the knee-grows, I am afraid you are going to be disappointed. I'd also add that anyone who would throw trite, cornball cliches like "Disneyfied" around probably needs to ask Santy Claus for a thesaurus. You might even be able to find one at the market, although if you did it would probably be in Spanish.

The bottom line is I would recommend that you and your associates to find something else to do. The market today is a real, functioning market, and the only reason to go there is to shop. Which I do a lot of, one of the reasons being that I do NOT see con men rolling up their sleeves trying to hawk phony stolen watches. If you are looking for a freak show, there's a much better one at the Pontiac in Wicker Park.

I also want to add the market is also a HUGE pain in the rear to those of us who live nearby, which is another reason I would encourage anyone not coming to shop to stay away. If you absolutely insist, please leave your car at home and either bike or take public transit. The traffic jams on Roosevelt are bad enough without you.

Last edited by NearWestSider; 06-04-2008 at 03:28 PM..
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