Who’s Hosting the Birthday Party?

English: World's Fair Postmark, 1893, August 29.

Progress. Nationalism. Industrialization.

These were some of the things that World’s Fairs touted. Starting with the first one in London in 1851, they began as exhibits of the prowess of the nations – the host’s and the visitors’. Prince Albert saw the fair as a chance to promote British manufacturing. It was a huge success and even returned a sizable profit which was used to build several museums and fund scholarships for industrial research. Architecture was a highlight of every fair beginning with the Crystal Palace which housed the entire fair under one roof. (See recent efforts to rebuild the Palace. )

Subsequent fairs were held in Paris (1855), London (1862), Paris (1867), Vienna (1873), and Philadelphia (1876). The next time the fair returned to the United States was the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition. While the 1876 Philadelphia fair (Centennial Exposition) marked the hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Chicago fair in 1893 celebrated the four hundredth anniversary of the “discovery” of the New World by Christopher Columbus.

Chicago by Day and  Night: Visiting the 1893 World’s Fair is part of our annual Despres Family Memorial Lecture Series.  Paul Durica and Bill Savage will be reading from Chicago by Day and Night on October 23, 2013 at the Blackstone Library, 4904 S. Lake Park Ave. at 6pm.

The presentation is in conjunction with Chicago Artists Month 2013, the 18th annual celebration of Chicago’s vibrant art community presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.  For more information about CAM 2013, visit www.chicagoartistsmonth.org . Chicago Artists Month 2013


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