The Dark Castle in the White City
The Devil in the White City takes two aspects that rose in Chicago during the late 1880s and the early 1890s and interlocks them. The World Fair did not just bring millions of people to the city, it brought optimism. Even though Chicago became magnificent through the Fair, it still remained in a mind frame of racism, inequality of gender, separation of social class, and countless murders. The story of the White City of Chicago enhances the story of the Devil, H. H. Holmes, who found contentment within its walls and created a downfall of humanism all on his own. Daniel Burnham and John Root created the White City with the help of many architects from New York, Boston, St. Louis and Chicago. Burnham focused on the public relations so he mainly found the work and also took care of the money coming in. On the other side, Root was an innovator. He drew the blueprints and built what Root had agreed to do. Throughout many challenges, and tragedy, both men planned the building of the White City and enhanced its landscape. The White City was given to the 1893 World's Exposition celebrating Columbus' discovery of America. The city of Chicago was given the honor of hosting the extravagant affair. Many people remained anxious, thinking that the Exposition would not excel a county fair, because they only envisioned Chicago as just an uncultured, meatpacking city and nothing more. But then the news came and Chicago was to be the host; the people of Chicago were ecstatic. They could finally show everyone they were as cultured and civilized as New York and maybe even better. Upon this great news, the firm of Burnham and Root was given the task of creating the Exposition grounds. The task had to be completed in approximately three years to be ready for the Dedication Ceremony and Opening Day. Three of their major obstacles were the location of the Exposition, its planning and design of the Exposition. It took them almost six months to decide on a location, so they only had two years and a half to design the building and landscape and then build the final product. It appeared to be an impossible task at the time. As soon as one challenge was met, three more would arise. One of the most prominent challenges was to create something that was comparable or preferably better than the Eiffel Tower, which was built for the Paris Exposition. America wanted the world to know that it could have a better World Fair Exposition than anything that had been done before. Other issues included the continued possibility of strikes from the workers, fighting committees for the approval of everything, deciding who would design the buildings and landscape, the economy, which was on the verge of collapsing during this period, and the power struggle between the National Committee for the Exposition and the Exposition Company. Everything was always behind schedule or at least appeared to but all of the architects from New York, Boston, Chicago and St stepped up to the plate. The workers, even with impending strikes, felt the patriotic spirit and worked harder and faster to finish their job. Burnham and his crew got the exposition grounds ready for the Dedication Ceremony, which was about one month before opening day. Things still needed to be completed, but it was closer to being done than anyone had expected. On Opening Day, things still needed to be accomplished but in general the fair had been completed. The Ferris wheel, America's response to the Eiffel Tower, opened 51 days late, but from the day of its first rotation, people were enamored with the wheel. The landscape was not entirely done but it went on to be completed within the next couple of weeks. The maintenance of the wheel continued for the full six months that the fair was open. With many people out of work, this provided jobs for lots of poor families for a while. The World Fair Exposition was great because not only did it beautify Chicago but it also told the...
References: Larson, Erik. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America. New York: Crown, 2003.
Borowski, John. H. H. Holmes America’s First Serial Killer: The Castle, the Murders, the Monster. Film Festival 2004
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