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Old Maxwell Street, South Water Market Photos Inspire New Mural

By Chloe Riley | September 9, 2013 9:01am | Updated on September 9, 2013 10:19am
 Historical photos - like these by amateur photgrapher Charles Cushman - were a large part of the inspiration for the Mural on Morgan Street.
Mural on Morgan
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NEAR WEST SIDE — Historical photos of the Maxwell Street market were a big part of the inspiration for a new mural going up along an embankment wall on South Morgan Street. 

University Commons condo residents — along with University Loft and University Village residents — have been pushing for the mural slated to go up on Morgan Street between 15th Street and the railroad viaduct.

Historical photos provided by the Maxwell Street Foundation preservation group largely inspired the mural. The various themes focus on the city’s railroad industry of the mid-1800s, the South Water produce market of the 1920s, and the bustling Maxwell Street market from the mid-19th century into the 20th century.

University Commons resident Nancy Plax said the mural’s been about a year in the making.

“It’s an educational thing for the community. And it’s an ugly wall that we wanted to paint,” Plax said, laughing.

Plax found her own inspiration through a series of pictures by amateur photographer Charles Cushman, who left more than 14,000 color photographs taken over 32 years to Indiana University.

“I went through every single one of his pictures and then started writing down the ones connected to our area,” Plax said.

Those photos — and others that inspired the mural — are now up on Mural on Morgan’s Facebook page.

That was last December. Since then, Plax and other Mural on Morgan commitee members have spent many hours researching and raising money for the mural.

And, while Ald. Danny Solis (25th) approved the mural as part of his “Art in Public Places” project, the funding — more than $10,000 — has all come from the community, Plax said.

Artist Nick Goettling already has begun stenciling figures on the mural, which Plax said should be finished by early October. University Commons will sponsor a “chalk-drawing festival” to raise more money for the mural on Sept. 22. Artists, adults and children are welcome to the fest, which will go from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Even though our building is old, all the development around this is very new. And people just don’t know or understand what the neighborhood used to be like,” Plax said. “We’re just really proud of where we live, and we have a lot of history here that we want to share with people.”