Thesis: The initial intent of the World Fair was to simply celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of the New World by hosting a world’s fair. America’s pride in its growing power and international stature had fanned patriotism to a new intensity. The nation needed an opportunity to top the French, in particular to “out-Eiffel Eiffel.”
Summary: As the story begins, it gives a moral climate of Chicago in the late 1800s. Deaths were highly frequent during that time. Many people were killed or injured in situations such as train accidents, fires, diseases, and murders (pg.12). The World’s Fair was a big concern for several Chicago citizens. They were worried about the location of the fair after the bids were completed. It turned out that Chicago had won the fair (pgs.31-32). John Root, an architect, and Daniel Burnham, his partner, were major key players during this time. In August 1886, H.H. Holmes took a train to Englewood, Illinois. He finds a job in E.S. Holton Drugs store and he was hired because the owner, Mrs. Holton, was in need as a result of her husband’s medical condition. As time goes by, readers discover that H.H. Holmes, which is a serial killer, had several signs in his childhood that lead us to know that in the future he was going to become a murderer. Mrs. Holton’s husband dies and Holmes offered to buy the business from Mrs. Holton. Soon after, Mrs. Holton disappeared and never returned. Six months after Chicago won the fair, Daniel Burnham and Frederick Olmstead, a world renowned landscape architect, agreed to find a site for the fair and to help build it. Olmstead only agreed to be a part of the creation of the fair in order to advance the reputation of landscape architecture as a valid profession. Unfortunately, the fair went a while without a site and the success of the fair was threatened by the global economy. H.H. Holmes traveled to Minneapolis and met a woman named Myrta Belknap. He eventually traveled there again because he could not stop thinking about her. He convinced her to marry him and move to Chicago. Although Myrta was infatuated and fond of Holmes and Chicago, she became jealous of female customers. She moves to Illinois with her parents and gives birth to a baby girl which belonged to Holmes. Holmes bought the land across the street from the drugstore. He refused to hire any architects in fear of his secret plan to build a vault, a chute from upper floors to the basement, and sub compartments below the basement being revealed. In November, Jackson Park was named the official fair site. In 1893 Burnham and Root contacted five of the most accomplished architects in America. Burnham went to New York to persuade other architects to join the team and he comes home to find that tension is extremely high with the fair’s committee and Chicago architects. They felt betrayed by the decision to use outside architects. Although many outside architects were iffy about the project and the site, they still agreed to do it. John Root was feeling sick for a while but his condition took a turn for the worse and he ended up dying. Burnham considered quitting the fair but decided to continue on.
Critique: In Part I Erik Larson was successful in revealing the main characters and describing the actions in which were going to be happening. He described Chicago, the type of person each character was and gave background information about them including information from their earlier years. The last chapter before Part II foreshadows many challenges Daniel Burnham is going to have to face in upcoming chapters which could affect the success of the World Fair.
Thesis: On Tuesday, February 24, 1891, Burnham, Olmsted, Hunt, and the other architects gathered in the library on the top floor of the Rookery to present drawings of the fair’s main structures to the Grounds and Buildings Committee. The source of...
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