Maxwell Street Walking Tour

Presented by Lori Grove, President, Maxwell Street Foundation

Maxwell Street cul-de-sac
South of Roosevelt Rd., ½ block west of Halsted St.
Chicago, IL

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 became transplanted in an urban environment and created a distinctive marketplace known worldwide. Businesses that started there included Vienna Beef and NABISCO, fueled by 19th 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.”  Today, Maxwell Street is redeveloped with historic facades reinstalled on building fronts, and 8 original buildings still stand. The tour will cover the history of these vestiges of the past as well as virtual sites.

Meeting Location: Maxwell Street is only 2 blocks long now, and the tour will begin in the Maxwell Street cul-de-sac that is 1/2 block west of Halsted. Maxwell Street is the first traffic light south of Roosevelt Rd.  Roosevelt/Halsted is the nearest major intersection (800 West, 1200 South). There are many options for eateries following the tour, including two original hotdog stands.

Tour Length: The tour will be approximately 1.5 hours in length, and will cover 7 blocks in walking footage. 

Parking: Pay meters are available on Halsted and Roosevelt for 2 hours, and also at the UIC Parking Structure at 701 W. Maxwell Street (reduced rate for the first 3 hours). Maxwell Street is the first traffic light south of Roosevelt Rd. on Halsted; turn east onto Maxwell Street and the parking structure is at the end of the block on the right. The walk to the meeting site is directly 2 blocks west on Maxwell Street.

Lori L. Grove is a museum professional who has worked at The Field Museum since 1981.  Grove has been involved in Maxwell Street’s preservation since 1991.  She has co-authored two National Register nomination applications for a historic district on Maxwell Street, and co-authored Chicago’s Maxwell Street for Arcadia Publishing in 2002.  As a former docent for the Chicago Architecture Foundation, she created and directed the Historic Maxwell Street Neighborhood Tour from 1998 through 2001.  Grove is a founding member of the Maxwell Street Foundation.  She holds a Master’s in Art History from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She is married and lives in Chicago.