World's Fair Newsletter

Is it still relevant?

Background on the Columbian Exposition

In 1893 Chicago was talked about all over the world. This was due not only to the way it had come back from the fire that had almost destroyed it in 1871 but but also because of the Columbian Exposition. The old settlers of the city saw their home being treated as a gateway for Chicago and America to transition between the Old World and the New World. The World's Fair introduced a many new brand names that would become staples of American daily life, such as Cream of Wheat, Shredded Wheat, Pabst Beer, Aunt Jemina's syrup, and Juicy Fruit gum.

Ferris Wheel

The original Ferris Wheel, sometimes also referred to as the Chicago Wheel, was designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.

Who attended?

The Fair was very popular, over 27 million visitors from around the world attended, including Frederick Douglass, Jane Addams, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Henry Blake Fuller, Scott Joplin, Walter Wyckoff, Edweard Muybridge, Henry Adams, W.D. Howells, and Hamlin Garland. It was widely publicized both nationally and internationally, and people traveled from all over the world to see the them. Travelers came from the East by "Exposition Flyers", which were Pullman coaches traveling at the speed of 80 mph. People left their homes all over the world to experience the cultural diversity and entertainment that the World's Fair had to offer.

What did visitors see?

One of the biggest attractions at the Columbian Exposition was the famous Ferris Wheel. The was created in the 1890s by Daniel Burnham and a group of architects. Literature was also a big attraction at the Columbian Exposition. Much literature was written not only based on the fair but also for the fair. One of the major draws of the fair was a dancer that went by the name Little Egypt. Supposedly, she brought danse du ventre, belly dancing, to the fair. As she danced she would wriggle out of her clothes with the help of the zippers that were also introduced at the fair.

Goals and Reactions to the Columbian Exposition

The World's Columbian Exposition was financially very successful. By October, attendance had reached over 6.8 million paid visitors. This number doubled August's 3.5 million. Chicago Day (October 9) alone saw 716,881 visiters entering Chicago World's Fair. The concession stands brought in over $4 million , the Ferris Wheel turned a profit, of over $1 million. No exposition in the 1800's was as succesful as this one. The 1901 St. Louis fair modeled itself on the Exposition, in both its profit-making and cultural aspects, as did the 1915 Pan-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. The official goals of the Fair were to provide stability in the face of great change, to encourage American unity, to celebrate technology and commerce, and to encourage popular education have their echoes in the fairs of Chicago and New York in the 1930s, and those most permanent of American fairs, such as Disneyland and DisneyWorld.


A number of elements of the World's Fair are still relevant in Chicago today. these include:


The cultural and entertainment impact of the Fair is still prevalent today. This includes stories and jokes to songs and cartoons. The fair influenced every aspect of daily modern life. This ranges from museums to the Pledge of Allegiance to hamburgers and Disney World.

The Columbian Exposition also introduced products such as Cream of Wheat, Shredded Wheat, carbonated soda, hamburgers, Pabst Beer, Aunt Jemima syrup, and Juicy Fruit gum.

But it was not just the Fair's product introductions which have had an impact on the face of modern America. The Exposition provided the United States with a new holiday, Columbus Day, and a new method of inspiring patriotism in schoolchildren; the Pledge of Allegiance. Also, due to the emphasis on exhibits and education at the Exposition, public science and art museums are still popular today.


The start of the consumer-based society started during the World's Fair.

This association of fun with consumption was an unintended but pleasant consequence for the Fair's management. They originally intended to increase American pride during times of trouble by celebrating American goods--which would, in turn, increase Americans' confidence in the business system. Americans realized that they enjoyed themselves by purchasing goods or simply the act of spending money. During this time big malls such as Marshall Fields became popular.


The World's Fair was one way that new technology was introduced to the general public. The World's Fair had a big influence on technology today.

The Fair helped change Americans' reactions to technology. People began to see technology in a positive light instead of before the Fair it was somewhat feared. Electricity was popular and used a lot of the Columbian Exposition. Little did they know what it would become an increasingly significant aspect of business and consumption, and be so relevant today. In the early 1890s, the icon for technological advance was electricity. Electricity was the latest in the bonding of science and progress. The Fair successfully turned the focus to technology.


  1. "Architecture." World History in Context. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2013. <>.(tags: none | edit tags)
  2. "Google Books." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2013. <'s%20fair&f=false>. (tags: none | edit tags)
  3. "Google Books." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2013. <'s%20fair&f=false>. (tags: none | edit tags)
  4. "Groups of Images (LOTs)." Photographs of the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, Ill., 1893. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2013. <>. (tags: none | edit tags)
  5. "The Columbian Exchange." The Columbian Exchange. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2013. <>. (tags: none | edit tags)
  6. "World's Columbian Exposition: Reactions to the Fair." World's Columbian Exposition: Reactions to the Fair. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2013. <>. (tags: none |edit tags)
  7. "World's Columbian Exposition: The Legacy of the Fair." World's Columbian Exposition: The Legacy of the Fair. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2013. <>. (tags: none | edit tags)