Reporting Harry Porterfield
CHICAGO (CBS) — At one time, Maxwell Street was one of Chicago’s best known places famous for the bargains you could get at its open air market. Now, a film maker is paying tribute to that historic market.
Harry Porterfield says she’s someone you should know.
Maxwell Street came into being as the city began to rebuild from the devastating fire of 1871. One of Chicago’s earliest commercial districts, it ultimately achieved world-wide notoriety.
Born in Israel, Shuli Eschel believes she is the the first woman to make a documentary about the iconic bazaar and its Jewish connection.
“When the immigrants came to Ellis Island and New York and came to Chicago to Maxwell Street and in Philadelphia, all these groups of immigrants, they brought in the old ways of making business,” said Eschel. “The reason why it has become so famous is because the marketing methods that the Jewish people used on Maxwell Street were adopted by people across the world.”
Without glitz and glamor the open air market became a success and was officially sanctioned by the city in 1912.
“People came to find bargains, to eat the wonderful food, kosher hot dogs and beef sandwiches,and listen to the blues,” said Eschel. “It was altogether a wonderful thing.”
Given its iconic past street sign and a plaque is all that commemorates the fact that Maxwell Street even existed.
In 1994 the market on Maxwell Street was officially shut down to make way for the expansion of the University of Illinois Circle Campus.
I feel that my documentary “Maxwell Street: A Living Memory of the Jewish Experience in Chicago” really connects me to the history of Chicago and I am not an immigrant anymore,” said Eschel. “I feel that I have contributed and that I feel connected emotionally to the city of Chicago.”
Shuli Eschel, film maker, and someone you should know. The relocated Maxwell Street Market can be found on South Desplaines between Roosevelt and Harrison where it operates only on Sundays.