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Introducing the Fair to Chicago During the late 1800s, Chicago experienced many horrific events, like the Great Chicago Fire, which caused people to steer away from the city. Luckily, there was an opportunity for the city to rebuild itself. The World’s Columbian Exposition, also known as the World’s Fair, needed a place to be held, since Philadelphia, the original home to the Fair, didn’t work out because of financial issues. Civic leaders in St. Louis, New York City, Washington DC and Chicago showed an interest in hosting a fair to generate profits, boost real estate values, and promote their cities. A few weeks later, Congress was called upon to decide the location. Chicagoans offered to finance a Chicago fair, but many people thought it was a bad idea because of the poor economy and wealth. Others argued that Chicago would be the perfect place, because of its open land and abundant supply of pure water. Finally, Congress decided to have the World’s Columbian Exposition take place in Chicago, as long as construction started right away. Since the city needed money, banker Lyman Gage, raised several million additional dollars, plus many fundraisers were held. All the money that was raised, was donated for the construction and advertising of the Fair, due to all the rebuilding needed. The White CitySince Chicago was now going to host the World’s Columbian Exposition, the city was in need of huge remodeling. The Exposition Corporation and National Exposition Commission was located in Jackson Park, which is an area by the fair site. Chief architect Daniel Burnham was selected to be director of works, and George R. Davis as the director-general. Burnham encouraged sculpture and architecture as key to the fair and assembled the period’s top talent to design the buildings and grounds. The temporary buildings were designed in an elegant Neoclassical style, and painted white resulting in the fair site, which was referred to as the “White City”.Constructing the White City wasn’t an easy task. It took a lot of thinking and work in such a small amount of time. Since Daniel needed a little more help, he teamed up with his partner John Root to serve as the lead designers. The two men didn’t wait long to start working, but all of a sudden, while they were constructing, Root became very ill. Burnham then had to put a pause on construction, which really delayed their project. A few days later, Daniel was at Root’s side when he passed away from pneumonia. Critics noticed Daniel’s mood saddened when he went back to working, so they began to suggest that he should just give up on the fair altogether. After hearing their feedback, Daniel changed his mood, continued to work and proved them wrong. Since most of the buildings of the fair were designed in the Neoclassical architecture style, facades were made not of stone, but of a mixture of plaster, cement and jute fiber, which was painted white, to give the buildings their “shine”. The buildings were clad in white stucco, and lights were added for night time. The process of this project was slow, which forced Burnham and the commission to push the opening day back from late 1892 to May, 1893. The date setback made people aggravated, because many had already planned the trip to Chicago, but that was what it was and they couldn’t do anything about it. When the final days were figured out, and all the important aspects for building the White City were done, it was officially time to open up the fair. George Ferris and His Idea Ever since the word got out, about there being a World’s Fair in Chicago, many inventors from around the world were brainstorming new inventions they could showcase. One inventor in particular, named George Ferris had one of the greatest inventions yet to come. His idea was to create something, that would challenge engineers and overpower the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower was France’s latest invention that wowed anyone who saw it. But Ferris wanted something bigger than that. Anytime George shared his ideas with his planners, they always suggested something “original, daring and unique”.  Ferris responded with a suggested wheel from which visitors would be able to view the whole exhibition from above.The planners feared his design, because a rotating wheel towering over the grounds could not be safe, but Ferris persisted. He returned in a few weeks with several approved endorsements from established engineers. The committee then agreed to allow construction to start. Constructing the wheel in time for the World’s Fair was fairly difficult, but Ferris knew and believed that he could do it. With a group of intelligent engineers he could do the impossible. George and his team quickly started to draft out what the wheel should look like. After many unsuccessful attempts and several different designs, the designers finally accepted their idea of a great wheel. The great wheel was supported by two 140 foot steel towers and a 45 foot axle. The wheel had a diameter of 250 feet, was 264 feet tall, and had 36 wooden carts. When the wheel was finished, it needed a name, since George thought “the great wheel” wasn’t anything special. Suddenly, one of his workers came up with the “Ferris Wheel”, in honor of George’s last name. It was finally decided that the Ferris Wheel would be presented at the World’s Columbian Exposition, two months after it opened. The Fair OpensOn May 1, 1893, The World’s Columbian Exposition finally opened. Beautiful architecture and incredible new inventions flooded the city. Opening day was crowded with a bunch of people from all over the world, who came to see how much Chicago changed, since the Great Fire. Inventors displayed their new inventions, hoping to wow the judges and audience. The daily admission price was 50¢ ($12 today), which was a reasonable amount of pay, since the construction costed a fortune. The fair received a lot of funds the first week, but then it started slowing down, which meant something needed to be changed. Many responses from the public said that the inventions were “cool, but not super exciting”. Luckily, Chicago had its last chance to redeem itself, by bringing The Ferris Wheel. Rumors were told that the wheel was supposed to be “something impossible or one of a kind”. Everyone hoped that it would live up to those standards, otherwise the fair would stop attracting people and probably shut down. The Ferris Wheel, which was not finished until mid-June, six weeks into the fair, proved to be a major attraction and helped save the fair from bankruptcy.  It costed fifty cents to ride the Ferris Wheel, but people were willing to pay because the ride gave a magnificent view of the White City. Others on the other hand, still thought the cost was pricey and a risky thing to do. But George saw past that and kept the ride running. It carried 38,000 passengers daily, taking 20 minutes to complete two revolutions. It was definitely an eye grabber that you could see from far away. Some people thought it really outdid “Out-Eiffel Eiffel”, because it wasn’t a building, but an amusement ride, that you could be a part of. Others said it was nonsense or unneeded, because it caused more chaos in the city. The Ferris Wheel operated from June 1895 until 1903, when it was again dismantled, then transported by rail to St. Louis for the 1904 World’s Fair. Despite the disagreements, the wheel definitely helped Chicago grow as a city, because it brought tremendous attention and visitors. The more publicity the World’s Fair and Chicago received, meant more jobs and opportunities for the people.Impact On Chicago In conclusion, The World’s Columbian Exposition proved to be a windfall for Chicago workers during the serious economic recession, that was sweeping the country. It gave people the chance to express their creativity that could someday make an impact on the World today. If the city let the people who didn’t want to host the fair in Chicago win the conflict, Chicago would never be the same. The World’s Columbian Exposition helped Chicago grow significantly in many different ways. After the fair ended, culture, technology, education, and architecture increased tremendously. The cultural legacy of the fair is not quite as obvious, but still extremely important and effective. The World’s Fair presented itself as a cultural event, and included music as an important element in that scheme. The Exposition gave the United States a new holiday- Columbus Day and a different method of inculcating patriotism in schools, the Pledge of Allegiance. The Columbian Exposition was an outlet for the debut of consumer products, which are familiar today. That included: Cream of Wheat, Pabst Beer, Aunt Jemima syrup, Shredded Wheat, and Juicy Fruit gum. All these cultural ideas and processes evolved from the World’s Fair, and made such a big difference in life today. Without them, people wouldn’t have the same appreciation for America in schools, different popular foods and food names wouldn’t be around, and their daily lives wouldn’t be the same.The World’s Columbian Exposition showed the way to modern America through its emphasis on technology, specifically electricity. Electricity would become a highly significant part of business and consumption with a new identity. Technology was no longer to be the frightening or overpowering, sudden switch from an agrarian to an industrial nation, but an augury for a new age of American progress. Once most American’s views on technology changed from frightening, to a path of hopes and dreams, they saw a reflection of their own progressive nature and bright future. The connection of electricity with progress in the fair showed visitors that technology was not a force to be feared, but celebrated.Technology at the World’s Columbian Exposition set Americans on the path toward modernity in the twentieth century, which made a huge impact on the world today. Almost everything people use today is associated with technology, which was adapted from the fair.Many visitors found some form of education on the grounds of the fair, which were not necessarily intended by the management. The idea that the fair was a great place for learning and enrichment, was taken wholeheartedly by the public. That made Americans want to start learning more about other movements, like the Chautauqua lecture movement. But it was decided by teachers and directors that Americans were not ready to learn about that yet. Students and parents argued that the Fair was a unique opportunity to do so. Officials’ accounts and personal reactions found nearly every aspect of the Fair was some kind of “object-lesson” That’s when it was decided that students could learn about different movements. Learning about other movements changed teaching, because students could explore more about other countries and cities. Architecture was one of the most improved aspects that was adopted from the World’s Fair. Before the fair, architecture wasn’t nearly as advanced as it was after. When Daniel Burnham created the White City, it opened a door for way more improved and unimaginable construction. Nobody thought it was possible to create buildings that were so rustic and modern. Once more architects saw the White City, they expanded their creativity to build more advanced buildings, that modernized throughout time. The World’s Columbian Exposition may have not been the most attended or popular World’s Fair (Appendix A), but it definitely made the biggest difference on Chicago and the World today. Chicago grew tremendously as a city when new inventions and ideas were brought to the World’s Fair. People took those inventions and ideas, and made them into something we use every day. Even if they were around before the fair, they wouldn’t be as modern and helpful to people to live their daily lives. The ideas and inventions that sprouted from The World’s Columbian Exposition left a legacy that can still be felt in all aspects of life.

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