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World's Fair: The Imperial White City - Chicago, 1893
Come and See the Mammoth Cheese!
The 1893 World's Fair in Chicago was called the Columbian Exposition and was held to celebrate the "400th Anniversary of Columbus Discovering the New World." Since that time, more accurate researchers have proved that Christopher Columbus did not discover the Western Hemisphere or New World at all. In fact, he was far behind the Native Americans, Scandinavians/Vikings, Hispanics, and other groups.
The Columbian Exposition was lit up like an overloaded Christmas Tree, especially at night. Brighter than Coney Island's Luna Park. This was all thanks to Thomas Edison and his staff's development of the electric light bulb and thanks to Tesla's further advancements. Light was everywhere for this fair. Millions of lights were used, making Chicago the home to The White City, the core of the exposition.
PT Barnum said about the fair, "Make it the greatest show in earth!"
The Electric Building at the exhibition displayed several large search lights that cut the sky with wide swaths of electric white light each night for six months. This was something new and drew large crowds of visitors to the fair.
Takeover of Edison by GE, Outdone by Westinghouse
- PBS: The War of the Currents
The War of the Currents at the 1893 World's Fair. Light Bulb inventor taken over by GE, then underbid by Westinghouse.
Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser (1871 - 1945)
This author created the All-American style of literature discussed as a need for our nation during the Congress on Literature at he 1893 World's Fair. Dreiser worked the fair as a reporter and used his skills to create enduring stories afterward. This book tells how and why he did it and discusses his stories.
The Congress on Literature
The Chicago Exposition hosted a Congress on Literature.
In the meetings, Mr. Hamlin Garland talked about America's need in the coming 20th Century for a new genre that he called "veritism" or "local color."
He felt that America needed something distinctly American in literature - "All-American", so to speak. The US had had enough of European literature to last them a while, he thought. However, global literature is still studied and enjoyed in American schools in the 21st Century.
During the time that the Congress on Literature was held, Theodore Dreiser was working in Chicago to write about the exposition in his job as reporter at the age of 22 for the St. Louis Republic.
Dreiser himself did not attend the Congress on Literature, but in the future, Dreiser fulfilled a principal role in creating the style of literature that Hamlin Garland suggested for America. It was a happy coincidence.
Eastman's Kodak Camera, #4
The FIne Arts Building
- Museum of Science and Industry
The Fine Arts Building at the Columbian Exposition is the only remaining building still standing on the grounds. It is now a very popular museum among other museums in this area of the big city.
- The camera at the right is part of the fine arts, but looked old to me as a child in the 1960s. it is ancient by some standards today, but it was brand new in 1892 and during the fair in 1893.
Invented for the Fair
In addition to amusement rides and camera equipment, there were foods first introduced in 1893 during the six months of the exhibition. Some of these include:
- Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix (invented in about 1889)
- Cracker Jack (and Licorice Jack, which pictured an African native on the front of a black and white box and was later banned)
- Shredded Wheat
- Juicy Fruit Chewing Gum
- The Hamburger, shown again at the St. Louis Worlds Fair in 1904
- USPS Commemorative Picture Postcards and Stamps
Entertainment - Belly Dancing
Historians feel that America enjoyed dozens of women calling themselves "Little Egypt" as belly dancers in carnivals and fairs.
Real Native Americans participated in these types of Wild West shows and earned a living doing so. Such a job was an alternative to some to being forced to live on reservations after the American Civil War.
The 1893 Ferris Wheel
Murder and Mayhem
The video below is a book trailer, actually, made to advertise Erik Larson's thriller-novel The Devil in the White City.
This is a story is a historical fiction work, but with substantial amounts of real dialogue and facts. However, the author admits in notes and references that the complete work is not fully historically accurate word-for-word and this has created controversy among readers. Still, it is a captivating story and reveals certain aspects of life during the weeks of the Exposition in Chicago. It particularly lets us see into the historical World's Fair and view what was there.
The book is based in the true lives of the noted architect that designed the 1893 World's Fair, Daniel Hudson Burnham and the serial killer, H. H. Holmes. Holmes lured his victims into the fair to kill them.