Columbian Exposition

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Social Studies
American History

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Columbian Exposition

The Midway Plaisance was the one-mile strip that contained amusements and ethnic villages

The Ferris WheelGeorge Washington Ferris introduced the world to his invention at the Fair, and it was the most popular attraction of the fair and helped to save the Columbian Exposition from financial ruin

Other Inventions:--Many people witnessed electricity for the first time (The buildings of the White City and the walkways between them were all illuminated)Electric/moving sidewalkIronElectric laundry machineThe prototype of the fax machineIncubators for chicken eggsThomas Edison's Kinetescope (the first motion pictureOther inventions...

All of the major buildings of the White City were temporary structures (except for the Palace of Fine Arts) and were clad in white stucco and plaster.

The Columbian Exposition of 1893

The White CityThe White City was designed by Burnham to be a utopian village that showcased the technological, commerical, industrial, and agriculturalprogress that American society had achieved over the course of the 19th century.

The Midway PlaisanceThe Midway was supposed to be showcase ofcultures and ethnicites so that visitors could measure the progress of different civilizations in comparison to the "advanced" culture of theUnited States and Europe.

Background Information--Chicago competed with New York to win the rights to host the fair. --NYC journalists began to call Chicago the “Windy City” for the aggressive way the boosters campaigned for the honor.--Architect Daniel Burnham and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead were appointed to design the Fair. --Burnham and Olmstead modeled after European classical architecture (Beaux Arts) to make the Fair appear to be a utopian city.--The Fair covered 600 acres with 200 buildings in Jackson Park--27 million people came. (The population of the U.S. was about 50 million at the time---The Columbian Exposition opened on May 1, 1893 and closed on October 30, 1893            The Fair was divided into two sections                                       /\                                      /  \

The Palace of Fine Arts at the Fair

The Museum of Science and Industry today

Racism at the Fair

African Americans were initially excluded from the fair, until civil rights leaders like Ida B. Wells and Frederick Douglass protested. The Fair did end up sponsor an "African-American" Day at the Fair, in the spirit of the "Women's Day" held earlier. However, many African-Americans viewed the day as a "token gesture" and were horrified by how African and Asian cultures were presented as savages in the Midway's exhibitions.