The White City
February 11, 2003 12:57 PM   Subscribe

This book was discussed last week, but in all the fuss about serial killers, we may have missed the extraordinary setting of the book: The 1893 World's Fair. The white city had some of the most beautiful architecture Chicago has ever seen, some of which still survives today. Of course, there are better remembered world's fairs, but the Chicago fair of 1893 is where the ferris wheel was invented, the pledge of allegiance was popularized, and PBR made its national debut.
posted by sodalinda (17 comments total)
Very worthy of a mention: Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth "comic book," which features a lengthy section involving the 1893 Chicago Exposition. Check it out.
posted by gluechunk at 1:06 PM on February 11, 2003

agh! I knew I forgot something. Thanks gluechunk. Jimmy Corrigan rocks :)
posted by sodalinda at 1:08 PM on February 11, 2003

WOW! Sorry, nothing immediately to add to the discussion, but the "white city" link above was done by my old English advisor at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas. Small world!
posted by phong3d at 1:43 PM on February 11, 2003

If you visit Chicago you can still see one of the exhibition halls, now the Muesum of Science and Industry. Or you can traipse about the lagoon, which is all that's left of the Venetian waterways. Take the #4 Jeffery Bus from the loop and get off at 57th street.
posted by ahimsakid at 1:44 PM on February 11, 2003

some of the most beautiful architecture Chicago has ever seen

That's a somewhat debatable statement. Today, Chicago is more known for Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright - who both hated the "white city's" faux-classical European look...and also for Mies van der Rohe who, I think I can safely conjecture, would also have hated it.
posted by dnash at 2:17 PM on February 11, 2003

This is a wonderful post. Thanks Sodalinda.
posted by anastasiav at 3:01 PM on February 11, 2003

People may know Sullivan and Wright, but they should genuflect in Burnham's Direction.

The Burnham Plan made the lakefront into a space available to all in perpetuity. It changed Chicago from a dirty polluted city into one that values public gardens and mixed-use space.

For the 'hog butcher to the world', the Burnham Plan defined how Chicago would be viewed to the rest of the world, and what it would value as a city. The Plan is still in place, protecting open space and public access to beauty. Daniel Burnham is the real hero of Chicago.
posted by answergrape at 3:15 PM on February 11, 2003

ahimsakid: I think that's the #6 Jeffrey Express - great bus, non-stop all the way up Michigan to downtown. I used to ride it to work when I lived in Hyde Park.
posted by phong3d at 3:36 PM on February 11, 2003

But where's the SERIAL KILLER tie in?
posted by jonson at 3:40 PM on February 11, 2003

It's the #6.

The "Columbian Exposition" also featured a human zoo. This guy has done some great research on the topic. I can't find a copy of "Red Man in the White City" online, but I remember reading and getting a better understanding of what the world's fair meant to Chi-town. There would be no U of Chicago, no Field Museum.

My "favorite" thing about the exposition was what covered the Eastern edge of what is now the Midway: a spread of exhibits resembling "all" the cultures of the world -- lined up in order of superiority! HA! rumor has it that the Japanese garden mentioned above was built by the Japanese emporer in exchange for being bumped up ahead of the british.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 6:28 PM on February 11, 2003

Yay for the architecture posts! Keep them up...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 6:31 PM on February 11, 2003

I remember coming across a site that was trying to save the New York State Pavilion that was part of the 1964 World's Fair (with great before and after photos). Hopefully, it will now become an Air & Space Museum. Unfortunately the last update to the info page is now a few years old.
posted by snez at 7:50 PM on February 11, 2003

Speaking of space (and architecture), Elvis satisfies many longings for death and structure
posted by skyscraper at 11:39 PM on February 11, 2003

PBS had a great multi-part series about Chicago on a couple weeks back, including an episode about the fair (more).
posted by owillis at 11:58 PM on February 11, 2003

Absolutely brilliant collection of links.
posted by plep at 12:20 AM on February 12, 2003

jonson: for the serial killer tie-in, check out the feb. 3 discussion. Or the first link in the post, for that matter -- the book juxtaposes the creation of the fair with the "torture castle" that was built right next to it ....*shiver* me perverse, I'm more interested in the fair itself.
posted by sodalinda at 6:54 AM on February 12, 2003

Of course, there are better remembered world's fairs,

Don't forget the largest and (arguably) most memorable 1903 St. Louis World's Fair. The St. Louisians have this fair to thank for the wonderful Forest Park, the Muny, the great sledding hill in front of the Art Museum, plus it inspired a fun musical. (maybe I'm biased...)
posted by valval22 at 8:50 AM on February 12, 2003

« Older Disaster Kit   |   Browsing for adoptions in Alberta Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments