With four cities vying to host the exposition (Chicago, NYC, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C.) what did this city by the lake offer? Incorporated in 1837 with a much smaller footprint than today, Chicago was the doorway to the West, serving as a transportation hub between the tony East and the rugged “Wild West.” By 1871 the city housed more than 30,000 people and had the greatest grain, lumber, meatpacking, and iron industries in the country. A devastating change was coming that would challenge even the bravest of hearts.
On October 8, 1871 a fire began that would consume everything in its path, from downtown north to Lincoln Park. It left in its aftermath $200 million in property loss, more than 300 dead, and more than 100,000 homeless. The extent of the damage was attributed to drought conditions at the time and lax building codes. In its rush to grow, much of the city was built using wood, even the roads. Rebuilding was a challenge that the city met by building even bigger. The skyscraper was created and the Chicago School of Architecture was born. Immigration to the city grew and by 1890 the population passed the one million mark.
It was this rugged,fight-back spirit that the city brought to the bout in Washington over who would host the 1893 World’s Fair.
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 .
- Rising from the Ashes (srschmidtblog.wordpress.com)