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Chicago World's Fair

Grover Cleveland

Chicago World's Fair: Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th American President who served in office from March 4, 1885 to March 4, 1889 and from March 4, 1893 - March 4,1897. One of the important events during his presidency was the Chicago World's Fair.

Definition and Summary of the Chicago World's Fair
Summary and definition:
The 1893 Chicago World's Fair, also known as the World's Columbian Exposition, was a World's Fair held in Jackson Park, Chicago to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the New World in 1492.

The preparations made for holding the great commemorative exhibition took so long, and were on such a grand scale, that the exhibition was delayed until the summer of 1893. Chicago won the prize of the location of the World's Fair and on July 2, 1890 selected the site of Jackson Park and the Midway Plaisance for the great event which covered nearly 700 acres of beautiful parks and grounds providing exhibitions, music, food, and entertainments.

1893 Chicago World's Fair: Forerunner to Disneyworld!
The Chicago World's Fair was a massive event. How can it be described? It can be described as a forerunner of Disney World and the EPCOT center, combining entertainment and educational exhibits with the latest inventions! Walt Disney's father was among the workers who constructed the Columbian Exposition.

Chicago World's Fair Purpose
The purpose of the Chicago World's Fair was to commemorate the 400th anniversary of 1492 Christopher Columbus landing in the New World and "to tell the story of the world's progress through those four centuries." The Chicago World's Fair provided a showcase for new inventions, new products, different styles of architecture and art, and numerous exhibits to cultural understanding and tourism.

Chicago World's Fair for kids
The World's Columbian Exposition, also known as the Chicago World's Fair opened on May 1, 1893 by President Grover Cleveland and closed on October 30, 1893 (Columbus Day). The entrance fee was 25 cents. In just six months it attracted over 27 million visitors from all over the world.

Chicago World's Fair Purpose: Christopher Columbus
The great explorer was remembered by the display a full size replica of the Santa Maria caravel, the flagship of Christopher Columbus, along with its sister ships, the Nina and the Pinta. These authentic  replicas of the Santa Maria, the Nina and the Pinta were built in Spain and sailed for 147 days from Cadiz before they dropped anchor in front of the Worlds’ Columbian Exposition on July 7, 1893. The Santa Maria ship was the centerpiece of the last day of the fair, Columbus Day.  Actors created a pageant featuring Christopher Columbus with monks kneeling in prayer and natives of San Salvador, the first land he sighted and visited on 12 October 1492.

Hosting the World's Columbian Exposition
An 'Exposition' is a public exhibition of industrial and artistic productions, hence the name Columbian Exposition. There was a race to host the World's Columbian Exposition between Chicago, St. Louis, New York City, and Washington DC. The United States Congress was in charge of the selection and awarded the city of Chicago the exposition. The World's Columbian Exposition soon became known as Chicago World's Fair.

Chicago World's Fair for kids: History
The Chicago World's Fair was not the first of its kind. Ideas for the World's Columbian Exposition were gathered from similar, previous events of the Crystal Palace Exhibition which took place in London in 1851, the 1876 World's Fair in Philadelphia and the Paris Exposition of 1878 which featured the great Eiffel Tower.

Jackson Park and the Midway Plaisance
The Chicago World's Fair covered nearly 700 acres. The Jackson Park area, bordering on Lake Michigan, housed the great buildings and exhibits and the Midway Plaisance area housed the great the Ferris Wheel with other entertainments and attractions including different villages reflecting different cultures and civilizations.

Inventions and Facts about the Chicago World's Fair: Fun Facts for Kids
History and interesting info about the inventions displayed and the Chicago World's Fair Facts for kids are detailed below.

The opening celebration featured a naval review of the leading warships of the world. The 35 warships of the era were joined by the three Columbian caravels. The ships extended for 3 miles and represented the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Holland, and Argentina.

President Grover Cleveland and his cabinet arrived at the opening ceremony on the steel-clad yacht Dolphin which steamed between the two lines of warships.

The Director of the Columbian Exposition was Charles Wacker who appointed a team of Lady Managers who were put in charge of upholding the moral tone of the exhibition

All of the states entered into the scheme, each state had its own building and their total appropriations amounted to $6,000,000.

Each of the states of America had its own building. Replicas of famous American icons were created such as St Louis Arch made of sugar, the Statue of Liberty made out of salt and the Brooklyn Bridge was made out of soap..

The original Liberty Bell was brought from Philadelphia for display

The locomotives on display included a model of Stephenson's "Rocket" and the "John Bull" used on the Camden and Amboy Railroad which was the oldest locomotive in America.

The American engineer George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. (1859-1896) created a giant revolving observation wheel for the World’s Columbian Exposition - it became known as the Ferris Wheel

Inventions: Inventions and gadgets included:

  • Invention of the Ferris Wheel

  • Spray paint was invented to solve the problem of adding color to the enormous buildings

  • Telephone inventions

  • An electric railway

  • Neon lights and the fluorescent light bulb inventions

  • Invention of the vacuum cleaner

  • Invention of the electric dishwasher

  • Vaseline

  • The zipper was also one of the inventions on display

The Midway Plaisance was one mile long and was a unique feature of the Columbian Exposition. The star of the show was of course the massive Ferris Wheel but the area covered by the Midway Plaisance also included fantastic entertainment, live animals, music and dancing. The Midway Plaisance featured:

  • The Ferris Wheel

  • The captive hot air balloon (look at the top picture)

  • The Hungarian Orpheum (the Orpheum was an entertainment venue combining a music hall and restaurant, complete  with a gypsy band)

  • Irish Village featuring a walk-in replica of Donegal Castle

  • Lapland Village featuring the reindeer

  • A Japanese Bazaar

  • A Chinese Theatre built using large pagoda features

  • Austrian Village selling Austrian beer

  • Cyclorama of the volcano of Kilauea

  • The Algerian and Tunisian Palace and Theater

  • A Street in Cairo, Egypt with Egyptian jugglers, belly dancers and Damascan Swordsmen

  • An ostrich Farm, with live ostriches

The United States government issued two commemorative coins. The half dollar coin featured Christopher Columbus and the quarter coin depicted Queen Isabella of Spain, who had funded the voyages of Christopher Columbus. The commemorative quarter was first U.S. coin to honor a woman.

The Bethlehem steam hammer was on display at the Chicago World's Fair. It was the largest hammer in the world, 91 feet high and weighed 125 tons. The massive, mechanically powered hammer was built for forging large iron or steel components

The parks at the Chicago World's Fair were beautiful and is estimated that 50,000 roses and 1,000,000 tulips were planted to delight the visitors

The first cable cars were in operation in time for the Chicago World's Fair. On October 9, 1893 (Chicago Day) thousands of people rode cable cars to the 1893 Columbian Exposition.

The Chicago World's Fair used 120,000 electric lights. Nikola Tesla was put in charge of the lighting and power.

Norway sailed a full-sized replica of a Viking ship across the Atlantic ocean for the Chicago World's Fair

Architecture: The Renaissance style of the Chicago World's Fair buildings was widely praised for the beauty of its architecture.

The Government Building included a case of humming birds contained 133 varieties. In another exhibit 106 families of American birds were displayed. There were also stuffed flamingoes, Rocky Mountain goats and sheep, armadillos, sea otters, bisons, a walrus, crocodiles, fish and snakes.

The Department of Ethnology at the Chicago World's Fair featured figures of Eskimos and Native American Indians including a tepee village.

In the War Department section various weapons and artillery were shown as exhibits at the Chicago World's Fair. These included important artifacts from history including:

  • A six-pounder bronze gun presented by Lafayette to the colonial forces

  • The four-pounder gun that fired the first shot in the Civil War

  • Cannon used in the Mexican War

  • A wagon used by General Sherman during his marches

The Machinery Hall at the Chicago World's Fair had numerous exhibits grouped into:

  • Apparatus and motors for the generation and transmission of power

  • Fire-engines, apparatus and appliances for extinguishing fire

  • Machines, apparatus and tools for working and the manufacture of metals, textile fabrics, clothing, wood, stone and clay

  • Machines for type-setting, printing, stamping and embossing, and for making paper and books

  • Photo-mechanical and other mechanical processes for illustrating

  • Machines and apparatus for Lithography, zincography, and color painting

Food: Food was sold by a variety of vendors at the Chicago World's Fair. However brand new commercial products were also introduced including Cream of Wheat, Juicy Fruit gum, Cracker Jack, Quaker Oats, Shredded Wheat, the Hamburger, Chili Con Carne and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

In the State Department there was a copy of the Declaration of Independence. Original documents on display included Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, the original journal of the Continental Congress and presidential proclamations issued by Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Polk, Van Buren, Monroe, Lincoln, Grant, Arthur, and Hayes.

Portraits of many famous people from history were on display in the Art Galleries.

Fountains: There were many beautiful and highly decorative fountains at the Chicago World's Fair. The fountain theme became more innovative when California erected a fountain that spouted Californian wine and France built a working fountain of perfume.

Spain played an important role in the Chicago World's Fair and displayed the jewels of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella

Thomas Edison displayed a tower of light and a kinetoscope which was the earliest motion pictures.

Historic documents signed by Napoleon, Tsar Alexander of Russia and Queen Victoria were also included in the exhibits at the Chicago World's Fair. 

The Chicago World's Fair was a great success. It rejuvenated the city after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Unfortunately the Chicago World's Fair ended with two more shocking events at the hands of a political assassin and a serial killer.

October 28, 1893: Chicago’s Mayor Carter Harrison was shot dead by Patrick Eugene Prendergast just 2 days before the Columbian Exposition was due to close. The closing ceremony at the Chicago World's Fair was cancelled in favor of a public memorial to the city’s mayor.

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