On the near West Side
, a run-down old street that gave its name to a famous outdoor market
that survives (in modified form) to this day. Less than a mile away from the place where the Chicago Fire
began, it was the immigrant
to Chicago for 150 years, the first settling place for thousands of Irish
newcomers (yes, an overcrowded slum
Also notable for its role in the history of Chicago blues, since it was the neighborhood where African-Americans first settled during the Great Migration in the first half of the twentieth century. Great guitar and harmonica players from the deep South played on streetcorners in the district, and their delta blues mixed with other urban musics to become the distinctive Chicago electric sound.
The neighborhood, still called Jewtown in the street vernacular, inspired the creation of Jane Addams's Hull House, birthplace of modern American social work). Still famous for the round-the-clock availability of Chicago Style Hot Dogs and Polish sausage. It was used as the site for the "Twistin" scene in the Blues Brothers movie. The street was gradually truncated by public works projects until in the 1990s the University of Illinois at Chicago won permission to take over the entire remaining area for athletic fields, parking lots and a residential complex that would net millions for developers. There are grass-roots groups fighting for landmark status or some other way to argue for the area's historical preservation. Many blues musicians, affordable housing advocates and historians have joined in the fight. See http://www.openair.org/maxwell/preserve.html and http://cowdery.home.netcom.com/page24.html to find out more about this incredible patch of ground.