Colombia Exposition 1893

World's Fair Relevance to Today's Chicago

The Fair

The Chicago World's Fair was held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the New World in 1492. Chicago won the privledge of hosting the World's Fair over New York, Washington D.C, and St. Louis. The fair had a profound effect on architecture, sanitation, the arts, Chicago's self-image, American industrial optimism, as well as influential social and cultural customs. The Chicago Columbian Exposition was designed by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted. It French neoclassical architecture principles based on "symmetry, balance, and splendor"( costing more than $46 million to build, "the equivalent of $1.2 billion today."(

Who Attended?

An estimated 27 million visitors, 14 million from outside the United States came to visit the World's Fair, at a time when the population of Chicago was just over one million.

What relevance, if any, does the Columbian Exposition have for Chicagoans today?

"The origins of the plan for Chicago can be directly traced back to the World's Columbian Exposition".(Plan of Chicago, Burnham) In 1909 the principal architects of the Columbian Exposition, Daniel Burnham along with Edward Bennett and the Commercial Club of Chicago on the Plan of Chicago. The book offered a vision of what the city could become in the twentieth century and recommendations for the creation of the lakefront, neighborhood parks, the construction of Lake Shore Drive, and the widening of major streets. All of these recommendations can be seen in today in Chicago as well as the Museum of Science and Industry that was created for the Worlds Fair and still operates today.


Burnham, Daniel. Bennett, Edward. "Plan of Chicago". Chicago Illionois, 1893.

"Digital Collections for the Classroom." Home:. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2014.

Press, The Associated. "Assessing a Future from 120 Years Ago." The New York Times. The New York Times, 31 Dec. 2007. Web. 04 Jan. 2014

"7 Things You May Not Know About the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair." A&E Television Networks, 01 May 2013. Web. 09 Jan. 2014.