Chicago's World Fair of 1893

By: Jessica Jamaica

The Columbian World Exposition

When the exposition was hosted in Chicago in 1893 it's purpose was to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival to the new world. The fair was designed by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted. People from all around the world came to see new inventions and attractions like "the belly dancing of Fahreda Mahzar, known as "Little Egypt, the Bewitching Bellyrina;" take in a demonstration of strong man Bernarr MacFadden's new exercise machines; ride on George Ferris's 264-foot bicycle-wheel-in-the-sky". The visitors that were able to go to the fair exclaiming things about it such as "Variety was the spice of show business and the right kind of amusements -- brief, light, and frivolous -- could be almost addictive," The Columbian exposition was a new and exotic thing it not only impacted future America but most important it affected the life of its' people then and now.

The Effects of Chicago's World Fair

The Columbian Exposition defiantly did leave a mark not just on the world but on modern Chicago today. The fair gave us a huge advantage economically by October attendance had reached over 6.8 million paid visitors the concession stands brought in over 4 million dollars and, the Ferris Wheel turned in a lot of profit. When all the calculations of the fair were made a surplus of 1 million dollars was returned to its 30,000 stockholders. This was good for the future city of Chicago because the fair allowed us to be financially stable and invest in our city. The fair also influenced us culturally it was the venue for consumer products like cream of wheat, Aunt Jemima syrup, and and Juicy Fruit Gum. The world fair also allowed for beautiful architecture similar to those of the Greek that not only impressed those of the 1800's but till this day. Due to the great fire many of those historic buildings were destroyed but some still exist like the Shedd Aquarium, and the buildings also allowed Chicago from a muddy swamp to the ideal of civilization with lagoons, gorgeous landscapes, and awe-inspiring buildings. The aquarium itself explains its historic building in the quote "In 1925, the Chicago architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White was hired to design Shedd Aquarium in the grand Beaux Arts tradition. The chief architect was Ernest Graham, who had worked for Daniel Burnham, one of the city’s premier architects and a visionary urban planner. Graham shared Burnham’s dream to transform Chicago into the “Paris of the Prairie.” The world-class aquarium would be his firm’s last Beaux Arts building and the grandest by far. " This building keeps attracting not only Chicagoans today but it is a major tourist attraction. The exposition also seemed to bring of the encouragement of technology and progress. Electricity was still new to many people causing it to be a mysterious and in some cases fearful subject. The displays of the fair changed their minds and opened them to new advances. . In the Electricity Building, visitors saw the introduction of the telephone, the phonograph, the typewriter, the elevator, electric lamps, sewing machines, laundry machines, and irons. These exhibits demonstrated how electricity could revolutionize both industry and the home. Technology would not only affect modern Chicago but all of America. A thing we all come to learn is that the fair will never be a thing of the past it affected Chicago economically, in progressing, and culturally so that it is still talked about. The Field Museum is having a exhibition on the fair and they exclaim “The 1893 World’s Fair was so much a part of the core of the Field Museum and the city of Chicago,” said Brown. “It’s truly how all the academic disciplines in the Midwest got their start. There really was not much going in 1893. At the time, Chicago was simply a commercial center. Yet, with the conclusion of the World’s Fair, the Field Museum and other institutions became the place where we could continue the learning process of the natural world and mankind as a whole.”


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