World’s Columbian Exposition: Putting Chicago on the Map

Topics: World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, The Devil in the White City Pages: 6 (2304 words) Published: June 26, 2013
World’s Columbian Exposition: Putting Chicago on the Map
As noted by Robert W. Rydell, the author of World’s Columbian Exposition World’s Columbian Exposition, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair took place in Chicago from May 1, 1893 through October 30, 1893 (Rydell 1). The fair was designed to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of the New World (1). The fair took place only shortly after the Chicago Fire and demonstrated Chicago’s ability to bounce back after great tragedy. The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 was meant to promote a positive image of Chicago, its diversity and growth, but during this time Chicago became prone to serial killings, violence and other crime.

As prior stated, the Chicago World’s Fair took place only 22 years after the Chicago Fire and showed that Chicago was quickly growing industrially as well as population wise (Rydell 1). Chicago was in competition with New York City, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis for housing the fair, which would lead to great prestige for the city (Rydell 1). Congress decided in 1890 that Chicago would be the lucky city to hold the fair, giving Chicago three years for preparations for the extravagant and monumental event (Rydell 1). As Ben C. Truman described in The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 the fair was designed to show the progress made by American’s since Columbus’s arrival (Truman 1). With this fair taking place in Chicago, the city was able to show its progress, especially after the destruction from the Chicago fire. Daniel H. Burnham was put in charge of the exposition and had help from his partner John W. Root to select and achieve beautiful architecture and sculpture to create an artistic and magnificent fair, which would become known as the White City (Rydell 1). Author of Devil in the White City Erik Larson describes Root’s untimely and sudden death in 1891 and how it shocked Chicago as well as caused commotion and gossip (Larson 107-8). Newspapers contained many interviews with individuals describing Root as Chicago’s “most distinguished architect, if indeed he had his superior in the whole country”, (Larson 108). These statements caused Burnham to consider quitting the fair for the lack of recognition he was given, which if he did would have caused a real death to the exposition and leave Chicago in the dust and possibly forgotten. Author Julie K. Rose notes that the fair covered 633 acres of Jackson Park (Rose 1). All of the main architectural structures conformed to one another in height, shape and color creating the White City (Rose 1). Three entry points to the fair were given and each guest paid fifty cents for admission per day. The Administration building was among the first buildings seen upon arriving and entering the fair, which was 55,000 square feet (Rose 1). This type of building gave a sort of introduction to what type of theme of architecture would be in place at the fair (Rose 1). The fair itself held numerous exhibits and buildings such as the Agricultural Building and Machinery Building (Rose 3). Amusement at the Chicago World’s Fair consisted of the Palace of Fine Arts (which now is known as the Museum of Science and Industry), state and territory buildings as well as even a Woman’s Building (Rose 1). The amount of exhibits and buildings helped show what kind of progress not only the world had made, but also showed the hard effort and elaborate planning that Chicago was able to succeed in making possible.

Most individuals saw the fair as a way for Chicago to bloom and put itself on the map of the world and leave an impact on the world. With Rose’s descriptive writing individuals can learn the size and cost of certain buildings. For example, the Machinery Building, which housed the Machinery Hall and had a price of 1.2 million dollars and had a size of 435,500 square feet (Rose 1). Prices and sizes such as the Machinery Building help show the extravagance and wealth needed to execute such a fair. It shows the...

Cited: Larson, Erik. The Devil in the White City. Rothley, Leics.: W F Howes, 2003. Print.
Rydell, Robert W. "World 's Columbian Exposition." Encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org. The Encyclopedia of Chicago, 2004. Web. 19 Mar. 2013.
Rose, Julie K. "World 's Columbian Exposition: Idea, Experience, Aftermath." xroads.virginia.edu. N.p., 1 Aug. 1996. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.
Searing, Susan E. "Women in the White City: lessons from the Woman 's Building Library at the Chicago World 's Fair." American Libraries Mar.-Apr. 2012: 44+. Academic OneFile. Web. 2 Apr. 2013.
Truman, Ben C. "History Study Center - Home Page." Historystudycenter.com. Helicon, 2007. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.
1. I used The Devil in the White City, because I knew it was reliable. It is both a primary and a secondary source, because it provides factual information, as well as firsthand accounts of the World’s Fair.
2. I used Rydell’s source, because I knew it was also reliable, because it was in an encyclopedia. This was an entirely secondary source, because it gave just facts and no personal accounts
3. Rose’s website was extremely helpful because it combined both primary and secondary sources as well. It gave quotes from individuals at the time, excerpts from magazines as well as just the facts.
4. Searing’s article gave information about the Woman’s Building and it provided me with secondary sources and strictly facts about the fair.
5. I used Truman’s source for mainly background information regarding the fair, thus making it a credible secondary source, because this article used excerpts from a book about the fair.
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