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Come on and join author Melissa Bradley as she sets off on her latest adventure...

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Chicago from A to Z...C is for Columbian Exposition of 1893

Grand Entrance to the White City
We are on the third day of A To Z and things are rolling right along. Today I'm taking a trip back to one of Chicago's defining moments, the great Columbian Exposition of 1893. In order to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus' voyage and to promote Chicago as officially back on track after the Great Fire of 1871, the city vied for the new World's Fair. They had beat out New York, Washington D.C.and St. Louis for this honor.

The fairgrounds were located on 630 acres in Jackson Park, Hyde Park, South Shore and Woodlawn neighborhoods. Famed Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted designed the layout of the grounds and the lagoon system while renowned architect Daniel Burnham supervised the overall design of the buildings which were designed to look like a white marble, neo-classical city, hence its nickname, The White City.

Ferris Wheel and Midway
There were many precedents set at this exposition. It was at that time the largest fair event in the world, drawing over 27 million visitors in its 6 month run. An astounding 46 nations sent delegations and cultural exhibits. The Columbian Exposition was the first event of its kind to feature a building designed by a woman and one that was dedicated to women and their accomplishments. The Women's Building was designed by Sophia Hayden, the first female graduate of MIT's architecture program. The fair also featured the very first Ferris Wheel. Located right on the Midway, the ride was some 264 ft. tall and had 36 cars that accommodated 60 riders each. New snacks and candies were also featured. F.W. Reuckheim introduced his popcorn nut confection, Cracker Jack, while Wrigley unveiled its Juicy Fruit gum. Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, a Midwest staple, also made its debut.

The fair also contained many scandalous events. On the Midway,  a popular dancer known as Little Egypt, introduced America to the seductive charms of the belly dance. And serial killer H.H. Holmes began his murder spree. On October 30, 1893 the fair ended its run and many of the beautiful buildings and lagoons were left to ruin. some of the remnants of the White City survive, including the former Liberal Arts Building which is now the Museum of Science and Industry. It's still there in its original location on 57th Street with a reflecting pool and lagoon system behind it that were part of the great exposition. the Japanese garden, a gift from Japan, also remains on the wooded isle that was created for the fair. Statues like the great golden Columbia that greeted guests are found  in various areas throughout the city. Columbia is actually near her original spot on what is now Hayes Drive at the southern edge of Jackson Park.

What do you think? Would like to tour the city to find more cool things from the Columbian Exposition? Surprised by the firsts? Happy A To Z ing and thanks for stopping by. Click on the badge at the top right or here to visit my fellow Challengers.

Museum of Science and Industry frmly Fine Arts Building

28 comments:

  1. It would be great to have a time machine and travel back to this place and time. I love your tour of Chicago :)

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    1. Thanks, Siv! I'd love to go back in time myself to see this. Little remnants remain in and around the Museum of Science and Industry and you can get a little taste as you stroll along the lagoons.

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  2. The first Ferris Wheel was huge. And is that a skull I see in the photo?
    Shame so much of the White City was left to ruin. Then again, think of all the effort that goes into buildings for the Olympic games, and most of them are torn down afterwards.

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    1. So ginormous indeed! It could be a skull there, Alex. I don't know for sure.

      So many buildings that could be repurposed left to ruin really is a waste and sad.

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  3. As soon as I saw this in my feed I thought of the book about Holmes. So creepy. I didn't know about Sophia Hayden. Hard to imagine how difficult it must have been for her to get into and through MIT at that time. How inspiring.

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    1. Holmes was very creepy, his murder castle was the very definition of sinister. I loved the book Devil In The White City.

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  4. I didn't know all that about the World's Fair. So very interesting.

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    1. It was a very exciting and intriguing event. I've often wished I could go back and see it in person.

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  5. Ferris Wheel, Cracker Jacks, Juicy Fruit gum, and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. What more can one ask for. Added the ferris wheel picture to my AtoZ Pinterest board!
    Gail visiting for AtoZ

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    1. All those great goodies, right? I'm happy you enjoyed the Ferris wheel pic. It had to have a been a true wonder in person.

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  6. Where's Doc Brown's DeLorean when you need it? I'd love to go back and see the sites!

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    1. I know, right? What I wouldn't give for Doc's DeLorean right about now.

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  7. *** Slow clap for Little Egypt *** thank you

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    1. LOL, of course she deserves a hand for that. ;)

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. Messed up on my comment. Take 2.

    Always like schtuff about history....cool theme you got.

    A-Z Challenge at Father Nature's Corner

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, G.B. I'm happy you like my theme. I enjoy history myself. I lose myself in it whenever possible. :)

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  10. I was indeed surprised by all the firsts. I'm always a little sad though when I read about these things falling into ruin.

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting, Claire. I'm always a little sad, too when I think of such beautiful things being left to rot away. It's heartbreaking. I was shocked, too when I first learned of all the firsts at this fair.

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  11. enjoyed the bit of history....very cool!

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    1. Thank you, Helen and thank you for visiting. I'm happy enjoyed my post.

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  12. looks like a beautiful place

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  13. Hey, I know right where those neighborhoods are. :)

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