A Fair’s World of Entertainment

The first Ferris wheel from the 1893 World Col...

It didn’t take long for the battle between the four cities vying to host the exposition (Chicago, NYC, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C.) to narrow to two – the sophisticated eastern New York and the bawdy “Wild West” Chicago. The initial battles took place in the editorial pages of the prominent newspapers of each. And the lobs were fierce!  In the end Chicago was named the victor but had to pledge an additional $5 million for the privilege. (Pay-to-play was alive and well in 1890!) Now the hard work at home began including the playgrounds that Chicago by Day and Night shares with us.

Popular hotels – The Richelieu. The Leland. The Auditorium.

Theaters/playhouses – McVicker’s. Hooley’s. The Grand Opera House.

Lively entertainment – Engel’s. Baum’s Pavilion. The Lyceum.

The city already had a ready-made stable of entertainment establishments that were popular with the citizenry. Known as a lawless frontier town including raucous gambling joints, saloons, and brothels, the city grew and developed a more sophisticated demeanor (at least in some quarters) as the Fair headed for town. From low comedy to grand opera, bands to orchestras, turkish baths to massage parlors, the Washington Park Racing Club, and open-air entertainments, there was something offered in the city for everyone’s tastes. Just ask Paul Durica and Bill Savage!

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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