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Maxwell Street Market To Be Managed By City

By Amy Perry in Food on Jan 20, 2010 7:20PM

Photo by Michael DaKidd

The historic Maxwell Street Market has been through several changes since it first opened in the late 1800s. It was closed down in the mid-90s due to the expressway and new developments and then relocated to Canal Street. In 2008, it moved to its current location on Desplaines Street between Harrison and Roosevelt. The market will now be managed by the city. The Daley Administration terminated its $850,000-a-year contract with JAM Productions, according to the Sun-Times.

For two years, merchants have voiced outrage at town hall meetings that they were being racially harassed and threatened with eviction and deportation from JAM. Special Events Director Megan McDonald told the Sun-Times the allegations were “alarming”, but it wasn’t the reason the city decided to take over management. The city would save $350,000 a year, even after security and maintenance costs, by hiring a full-time employee to manage the market. JAM denies the vendor’s allegations and claimed it was following the city’s orders. Under new city management, plans are in place to create stages for music and let merchants park their vehicles at their vendor space.

If you haven’t been to Maxwell Street, it's worth a visit. It has a rich diverse cultural history and is said to be the birthplace of the Chicago Electric Blues. The open-air market runs every Sunday, year-round. Shoppers can expect all the odds and ends found at fleas markets from household goods, clothing, CDs, jewelry, produce and even power tools. In addition, there are several tasty Mexican food stands serving up excellent tamales and horchata.