The Maxwell Street Market

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Kid with cornCentral to the appeal of Maxwell Street was the open-air weekend market. Designated by city ordinance in 1912, it was one of the liveliest spots in the metropolis. In the early years, Jewish peddlers set up stalls and drove pushcarts through the chaos of Jefferson and Market Streets, selling textiles, food and spare parts. Benny Goodman, Supreme Court justice Arthur Goldberg, and CBS boss William Paley grew up in this choked but colorful atmosphere. Later the market was regulated by a market master who charged vendor fees and paid off 1st ward politicians. Generations of shoppers spent weekend mornings hunting for bargains and overlooked treasures among the heaps of cheap clothing, second-hand furniture, TVs and radios, used tires, snake-oil medicines, and love-charms. The market attracted 20,000 visitors on a typical weekend to sample wares from 1,000 vendors. Though it has been displaced from Maxwell Street, the market still operates from a new location on Des Plaines Avenue.

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