The Fair’s Footprints
The World’s Colombian Exposition was a remarkable event that changed the face of America by introducing innovative new technologies, introducing and assimilating different cultures to the country, revolutionizing society and the roles of people, implementing pastimes and entertainment into American life, and illustrating the effects of urbanization.
The Fair introduced life-changing new technologies to the world and catalyzed the discovery of innovative methods for architecture. Early in the book the architects run into the issue of creating buildings on the marshy Chicago earth for fear that the buildings would sink into the ground, posing numerous health risks and safety hazards. To combat this obstacle, Root devised a plan of layering multiple steel beams in a grillage, and then covering the grillage with Portland cement which would create a sort of floating foundation. This newfound method of architecture helped spur on future architects to build where the soil was not adequate enough for old fashioned architecture. The Fair used this method in Jackson Park for almost every building and let the world know that anything is possible in America. In relevance to the architecture, Francis Millet invented spray painting when he was assigned the job of Director of Color for the Exposition which made painting significantly more efficient and visually appealing. Aside from architectural advances, the Exposition brought forth complex ideas such as AC electrical current to things as simple as Juicy Fruit gum. The implantation of AC electricity in the World’s Fair marked the point where America jumped ahead of the rest of the world in infrastructure. Tesla’s AC current was much safer and efficient than Edison’s DC current, but combining Tesla’s AC current with Edison’s light bulb proved to be the epitome of technological advancement of the era. The light bulb changed the face of the nation, allowing people to be active during the night where light wasn’t present before, introducing the social dynamic of nightlife and also reducing the average amount of sleep by 3 hours. One of the most influential parts of the Fair was the Ferris wheel, which effectively “out Eiffeled” the Eiffel tower and marked the greatness of American architectural achievement. The Ferris wheel’s superiority greatly boosted the already high sense of nationalism burning within the nation and the increased morale helped ignite the passions of innovation in many people.
The Fair attracted people of all different backgrounds to America, and introduced to the country a multitude of varying ethnicities. One of the most prominent cultures in the book is the Italians, whom were hired when some workers went on strike. The original workers beat a couple of the Italian workers and sparked a racial enmity between Italians and the Fair’s workers. Most Italians were single male workers who had come to America as “birds of passage,” so they would take any job they could fine in order to make some money and take it back home with them. Also there was the mixture of different races on the Midway, which many Americans had never been exposed to before. Some were revolted by the customs, languages, and clothing that the foreign exhibits displayed, evoking the innate sense of nativism and American superiority to burst forth. The immigrants were blamed for issues they had not factor in, such as the low quality of citywide infrastructure, pollution, garbage disposal, and urban degradation in general. One of the most prominent events at the Fair was the Egyptian belly dancers, whom mesmerized male spectators but disgusted some females with their borderline provocative movements. The Midway opened the eyes of the American people to new and distinct cultures from around the world, inspiring many to learn more and adopt certain foods and customs to the American way of life.
The World’s Colombian Exposition also...
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