The Maxwell Street Market, created by a city ordinance in 1912, transformed an early residential street into a thriving marketplace for nearly one century in Chicago. Although its geographic boundaries shifted over time due to urban renewal and expressway construction, the informal bartering on Maxwell Street and discount shopping on Halsted Street remained constant. The Maxwell Street Market was rooted in Old World European traditions that were transplanted to an urban environment and created a distinctive marketplace known worldwide. Businesses that started there included Vienna Beef and NABISCO, fueled by nineteenth-century entrepreneurs who pushed our nation forward with their innovation, ingenuity, and resourcefulness. In the marketplace, vendors, merchants, foods, and merchandise all contributed to the unique character Chicagoans and others called “Maxwell Street.”
Listen in as Lori L. Grove discusses this historic part of Chicago’s culinary history. Grove has been involved in the preservation of Maxwell Street since 1991. During this time she coauthored two National Register nomination applications for a historic district on Maxwell Street and coauthored Chicago’s Maxwell Street for Arcadia Publishing in 2002. As a docent for the Chicago Architecture Foundation, she created and directed the Historic Maxwell Street Neighborhood Tour from 1998 through 2001. Lori is a founding member of the Maxwell Street Foundation.
This event was recorded as part of the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance Fourth Annual Symposium “Midwest Eats! Foodways of the Great Depression,” which focuses on the Great Depression’s impact on our culinary traditions. Other events from this symposium recorded by Chicago Amplified—listed in the order they were presented—are as follows:
Midwest Eats! Foodways of the Great Depression
Nightclubs and Bread Lines: Depression Era Foodways On Film
Templeton Rye of Iowa: Its History During and Just After the Prohibition
This Land is Whose land?
John Drury, Ace Chicago Restaurant Reporter of the 1930s
Community Canning in the Depression: A Case Study
Co-Eds at the Co-op: Student Depression-Era Foodways at Old Normal
Greater Midwest Foodways Heirloom Recipe Competition
No Longer does the Holiday Table Groan Under the Weight of Food
Steaks and Shakes and the Great Depression
Beer Production after Prohibition: Setting the Stage for the Rise of the Mega-breweries
The American (Bad) Dream: Soup Kitchens and European Immigrants in Chicago in the 1930s
Chicago’s Maxwell Street
Recorded Sunday, May 1, 2011 at Barbara’s Bookstore.