StreetWise celebrating 30 years as Chicago's street publication

It was August 24, 1992, when the very first issue of Streetwise hit Chicago's streets.

Thirty years later and through two very difficult stretches — in 2008 when the economy went south, and during the pandemic when downtown was mostly empty of foot traffic — the magazine is now once again thriving.

"I was homeless at one time," said vendor Keith Hardiman, who works at the corner of Michigan and Lake. "I had problems with drug addiction. Streetwise never closed its doors to me."

"I'm thankful for everybody," added fellow vendor Kianna Drummond, who works at the corner of Clark and 18th Street. "Thank you for giving me the opportunity to get out here and work, and do what I have to do. I do it every day, faithfully."


Keith and Kianna are two of an estimated 13,000 people who have worked as Chicago Streetwise vendors since its founding. They were on hand for the magazine's 30th birthday celebration Wednesday morning at its Bronzeville Headquarters.

"I'm super thankful that we've kept it going through good times and bad times," said Streetwise Founder Judd Lofchie. "We've evolved. And like I said, the people of Chicago have been wonderful to us."

Vendors buy each magazine for $1.15 a piece and sell them for $3.00, keeping any profits and tips. Lofchie says 40 percent of its vendors go on to find homes and other jobs.

"I think people see that they want to work," Lofchie said. "They're in the same spot every day. Winter, summer, rain, snow. They need the money to pay rent or buy food, so I think people see how hard they want to work. They're not begging, they don't have a sign. It's easier to sell a good magazine than to beg with a sign, so it's been great here."

The agency has also expanded to offer social workers, job placement services, food, clothing, and medical services.

As for ways to help Streetwise, you can donate online and contribute articles. However, Lofchie said the very best way is to buy the most recent issue when you see your neighborhood vendor on the street.