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The roots of the blues from Mississippi Delta, Memphis, Saint Louis, Chicago ... Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor, B.B. King, Robert Johnson, Elmore James, T-Bone Walker, John Lee Hooker, and more ...

Chicago's Legendary Maxwell Street in photographs by Tom Smith

Maxwell Street Jimmy, 1977
When Jimmy Davis settled in Chicago, he made Maxwell Street his home. Maxwell Street Jimmy is the only musician who lived on Maxwell Street and owned a business there, The Knotty Pine Cafe.




Carrie Robinson & Jim Brewer, 1978
Gospel singer Carrie Robinson (woman dancing) gave spiritually inspired performances.



Vendor with shoes covering car, 1993
Let's make a deal! Everyone was there to wheel and deal.





Buck's Red Hots, 1983
The Maxwell Street hot dog stands were famous for their Maxwell Street Polish sandwiches - a Polish sausage on a bun with mustard, buried in grilled onions.



Blind Arvela Gray, 1978
Maxwell Street veteran Arvela Gray performed at the market for decades. Note the tip cup pinned to his shirt.




Pat Rushing, 1981
Pat Rushing performs with the Maxwell Street Blues Band under The Blues Tree.  Note child playing drums.




Gold Mine Corner, 1994
Looking north up Halsted Street from Gold Mine Corner (Maxwell & Halsted Streets).




Charlie with Cigar, 1994
A few weeks after this photo was taken, the wall behind my friend Charlie collapsed, damaging his car and nearly hitting him. Charlie was the market parking attendant.



Mississippi Blues Band, 1982
J.H. Davis, Jr. Mississippi Blues Band is hand written on the van. Note the old junked bathtub and mattress spring to the right.




Jim Brewer and Albert Hollins, 1981
Jim Brewer performed on Maxwell Street for 40 years.





Our Town, 1992
This study in contrast captures Maxwell Street's role in a diverse city. Note the ad on the bus with Michael Jordan modeling for Bigsby & Kruthers.




Photos & Text by Tom Smith

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