Thursday, August 14, 2008

1893 World's Columbian Exposition

The World's Columbian Exposition was held in Chicago, Illinois and is probably better known as The Chicago World's Fair. Dedication ceremonies for the fair were held on October 21, 1892, but the fairgrounds were not actually opened to the public until May 1, 1893. The fair continued until October 30, 1893. In addition to recognizing the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the New World, the fair also served to show the world that Chicago had risen from the ashes of the Great Chicago Fire, which had destroyed much of the city in 1871.

The Exposition covered more than 600 acres, featuring nearly 200 new buildings of classical architecture, canals and lagoons, and people and cultures from around the world. Over 27 million people (equivalent to about half the U.S. population at the time) attended the Exposition during its six month run. Its scale and grandeur far exceeded the other world fairs, and it became a symbol of then emerging American Exceptionalism.

Below are some of the more unique views of places and amusements at the Exposition... "where a lot of money was made", Especially in 1893 Dollars.

The mile long Midway Plaisance, running from the eastern edge of Washington Park on Cottage Grove Avenue, to the western edge of Jackson Park on Stony Island Avenue was turned over to the theatrical entrepreneur Sol Bloom. It became a grand mix of fakes, hokum, and the genuinely educational and introduced the "hootchy-cootchy" version of the belly dance in the "Street in Cairo" amusement; it was the most popular, with 2.25 million admissions.

George Ferris' first Ferris Wheel had 1.5 million riders. The Midway's money-making concessions and sideshows made over $4 million in 1893 dollars, and it was the more memorable portion of the Exposition for many visitors. The term "midway" came into common use to define an area where park rides, entertainment and fast food booths are concentrated at parks and fairs.

Submarine Diving Exhibit on the Midway.

Volcano of Kilauea Exhibit on the Midway.

John Bull locomotive at the Exposition in 1893.

Windmills of the World Exhibit.

A notable first at the WCE was Scott Joplin's performance at the Exposition introducing "Ragtime" to new audiences. The Exposition attracted attention to the Chicago ragtime scene, led by patriarch Plunk Henry.

1 comment:

outsidetheberm said...

Nice! Some very interesting photos here that we have not seen before. Great stuff! Thanks.