One of my most vivid memories of the Maxwell Street market in the 40s, was of street musicians sitting on chairs in the middle of the street, playing guitars, and wearing what appeared to me to be their sleeveless underwear shirts, on a cold Sunday morning.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/02/2013 05:57PM by nordsider.
I shopped there occasionally on Saturday's until around 1975/76. At that time it was still the same crowded market as it had been for decades. I recall driving through once in the early 80's in order to give my young son a sense of its history. We were stopped in Maxwell Street traffic when a street peddler came up to the car holding two pornographic videos, the covers of which left nothing to the imagination. My son learned more that day than I had intended.
I remember my Dad taking me down to Maxwell street when I was a kid. I still remember the man selling watches, sliding up his shirtsleeve to display about 10 of them.This would have been about late '50s - early '60s, long ago.
But, on the humorous side, a friend of mine was looking around on Maxwell in the late '70s and found a deal on white dress shirts at a bargain price. IIRC, he bought 6 and it was only when he unwrapped them at home he found they were backless: they were for dressing cadavers at funeral homes; caveat emptor. I had a good laugh about that. Good memories of a time and place long gone.
I used to go to Maxwell Street with my mom back in the late 40's and with
the guys in the 50's..The only thing I remember was someone buying a pine-
apple and eating it on the Clark streetcar going home. My mom could tell clothes
quality by the feel of the material which I learned from her and used throughout
my life. Yes, we did buy lots of "stuff" down there.
Wow, what memories! Beginning around 1959 or 60, my dad and I would go down there almost every Sunday morning, rain or shine, hot or cold.
The smell of Jimmy's (?) Polish Sausage at the NW corner of Maxwell and Halsted carried for a half mile. Yum! All the junk that foilks woild pour out of their trunks and onto the street... what treasure! The guy with an armful of watches, etc. One high point was hanging around the empty lot at 14th and Halsted, listening to the bluesmen playing for nickels and dimes. One fellow, an old black man named "Blind Arvella" Gray would stand on his spot every Sunday without fail. We'd toss a dime or two into his tin cup. A wonderful picture of him at Maxwell street appears
in the Vivian Maier display at the Chicago Historical Museum. It was also shown on Jay Shepsky's program on WTTW.
There's a fellow who sells at Wolff's indoor flea market in Palatine who looked familiar to me when I first met him a few years ago. I asked him about Maxwell street, and sure enough, he was selling down there 50 years ago, and I recognized him after all this time.
I used to work in the West Loop, and often ran through the old Maxwell Street market area. While it was pretty quiet during the lunch hour weekdays when I ran, you had a feeling that you were really in the middle of a lot of history. I don't work down there any more, and from what I've seen, the whole area seems pretty sterile now.
I think 1959 was the first year my mom took me and my sister to Maxwell St. At that time the big 12th St Department store was still there @ Halsted / Roosevelt (NE corner). I loved 'shopping' through Maxwell St stores & vendors, we seemed to go there primarily during wintertime, and you'd be directed to drive your car and park in a large rubble lot, with men warming their hands over 55 gal drum bonfires. The stores could be so tiny, occupying but a gangway between adjacent dilapadated buildings, but the salesmen were agressive in the best possible way (though they could never make my mother buy a single thing she didn't really want). One store I looked forward to returning to was the only Maxwell St pet shop, run by a happy big black man with only one good eye. I can still picture so much of this old stuff and they are among the very best childhood memories I maintain.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/10/2015 04:02PM by the_mogra.
I remember Maxwell Street or as some called it Jew Town, no disrespect intended. We loved going down there as kids. My dad and our uncles would buy their suits and hats down there in the 50's. They had great prices and on the spot tailors. You could smell the grilled onions, hamburgers etc. from blocks away. They were good. The dressing rooms were something to see as a kid if you know what I mean.
Sure I remember Maxwell street ! I would take the streetcar from 69th and Ashland ( transferred a couple times if I recall) that was back around 1950 .... I saw guys hawking/selling watches with with like 10 watches on each arm - guys grabbing you by the shoulder as you walked by their shops - trying to pull you in !!! The place was always crowded and a real trip to see.
I don't think there was anyplace else like it - wasn't it someplace near 12th and something else ? I moved from Chicago in 1957. Am now in Sarasota, Fl and love it.