The Book of the Fair,
Digital History Project

Chapter the Fourth: The Site, the Plan, and the Artificers
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[52] - In selecting the site of the Columbian Exposition there were several points to be considered. First of all it should, if possible, be on the shore of the lake, in a location not far distant from the business centre of Chicago, easy of access by land and water, and yet not intersected by streets or railroads; it must afford space, without crowding, for a group of edifices much larger in size and number than those of any former international exhibition, and it must contain as few improvements as possible, or better no improvements in the shape of buildings, so as to present no difficulty in the way of securing and preparing it for the purposes of the Fair. But the few vacant tracts on the outskirts of the city, such as fulfilled even a portion of these requirements, were of unsightly aspect, low, flat, marshy, and with no facilities for landscape or horticultural display. Only on the shore of Lake Michigan was there an element of the picturesque, and only at one point on that shore could the necessary conditions be obtained. This was in the section of the southern park system known as Jackson Park, an almost triangular piece of land 586 acres in extent, stretching for a mile and a half along the shore of the lake, nearly seven miles southeastward from the business quarter of the city, and skirted on its western verge by the Illinois Central railroad. Connecting it with Washington Park is the Midway plaisance, a narrow strip of ground a mile in length and somewhat less than a furlong in width, lined with a border of shade trees and dotted with miniature lakes. Here are some of the minor features of the Exposition, presently to be described.

As seen in its finished state, the Exposition site, with its winding walks and drives and waterways, its stately avenues, its floral designs, its statuary, fountains and ornamental bridges, all forming a scene of surpassing loveliness, owes little of its beauty to natural advantages, save for its outlook on the lake. When selected for the purpose, except for a few acres at its northern extremity, where a scanty covering of verdure was pushing its way across the unwilling soil, it was, as I have said, a mere patch of sand, cast up in successive ridges, by the waters of the lake, and almost untouched by the handiwork of man. There was nothing to form an [53] architectural background, nothing to lend variety of form and feature to the dull monotony of the landscape. On one side the smoke of a great city dimmed the horizon; on another it was lost in the desolation of loneliness.

To convert this wilderness into a garden spot was the task undertaken by Frederick L. Olmsted and his late partner H. S. Codman, since deceased, both among the foremost of landscape designers. To the practiced eye of these experienced artists, the very disadvantages of the site, its bareness, barrenness, and desert-like aspect, suggested a plan that was at once unique and appropriate. Here the expanse of an inland sea, its horizon unbounded as that of ocean, and its surface studded with craft of various kinds, bedecked in holiday attire, would more than atone for the absence of park-like scenery, while, as will be presently explained, the water of the lake could be so utilized in the grounds as to add to the general effect. Moreover, with the aide of steam dredges and modern processes of grading, plateaus and terraces might be created for the larger buildings, partly with the material taken from the marsh lands, and the excavations thus produced could be converted into a system of canals and lagoons.

Thus it was that Mr. Olmsted and his colleagues recommended as the best available site the ground of Jackson Park, which for a score of years had remained almost unimproved in the hands of the park commissioners. After prolonged negotiation and strong determined opposition from those whose interests lay in other directions, their consent was finally obtained, on condition that at the close of the Fair the tract should be returned in a condition suitable for further improvement as a public pleasure ground. In collaboration with the chiefs of the construction department, plans were then prepared and submitted for the preparation of the site, its subdivision, and its occupation by the many structures required. As related by one of the principal architects, "The leading motives of composition were to obtain such a disposition of the greater buildings as should make the best and most effective use of the natural conditions of the ground, when modified and corrected by the art of the landscape architect; should give to these buildings a proper and articulate relation one to the other, and also to the water-system of the park; should group them in a formal and artificial manner at those points where their great size and necessary mutual proximity invited a predominance of architectural magnificence, or picturesquely and incidentally, where the conditions of the landscape were such as to forbid a close observance of axial lines and vistas. But all these dispositions were made subordinate to the situation furnished by the wide expanse and horizon of the lake, so that the important element of composition should have its due value from the principal points of observation.

Of all the difficulties that confronted the landscape artists, one of the greatest was to give to the grounds such horticultural embellishment as would form a tasteful setting for the terraces, statuary, fountains, waterways and other decorative features, giving to them all possible advantages of floral and arboreal vegetation. On or near the sites of former expositions was an abundance of trees and shrubbery available for such purposes, but here no such conditions prevailed, for winter lingers long on the prairie lands of Illinois, and in early Spring vegetable growth near the marge of the lake is retarded by the chill night winds that sweep over its surface. Hence it was decided to mask the few groups of stunted trees that lay scattered throughout the tract with such a covering of shrubbery as would hide their dwarfish proportions, and give to them the appearance of woodland foliage; also to plant the edges of the waterways with hardy aquatic plants, that would bear submergence, and near them a background of willows and bright flowering plants, with stretches of lawn as a further relief to the imposing structures of the great white city presently to be erected.

Making the best use of such materials as were at hand, a landscape effect was thus devised, befitting the group of edifices whose broad dimensions would be brought into stronger contrast by their environment. The use of waterways was also suggested, imparting to the mise-en-scene somewhat of a Venitian aspect, and giving color to the architectural features of the display by creating what has been termed a water show in the very heart of the land show. Here was a novelty of design which has been applied to excellent purpose by the skilled artificers to whom the landscape gardening was intrusted. Winding their way through the grounds in graceful and symmetrical curves, a system of canals and miniature lakes was constructed, dividing a portion of the site into a group of islets, connected by ornamental bridges, and fringed with the flora of the lakeside water system.

To accomplish this end, the water was first conducted from the northern inlet of the lake so as to encircle the wooded island, many acres in extent, lying opposite Horticultural building, and thence by means of a canal extended southward into the great basin in the centre of the avenue on which were grouped the principal structures. The bodies of water thus formed, together with other basins, lakelets and canals, were enclosed by [56] grounds arranged in the manner most appropriate to the places through which they passed, some in the shape of lawns and terraces, planted with flowers and shrubbery, others in the form of embankments of stone or brick, surmounted with balustrades, and with steps and landing in front of the entrances to the various buildings. The island itself was almost covered with foliage, and with thousands of transplanted trees, representing most of the varieties of timber found in the United States.

Together with the land adjacent to Horticultural Hall and Midway plaisance, this island was assigned to the department of Horticulture, and became one of the most attractive portions of the grounds, a scene of restful, sylvan beauty, with shady groves of cool recess, and with myriads of floral and other contributions from our own and foreign lands. In the preparation of these grounds the entire surface was raised by several feet, covered with a rich black soil and with fertilizing substances, and so arranged as to conform as far as possible to the wishes of exhibitors without impairing the general effect. Meanwhile circulars were addressed to the superintendents of parks and owners of private conservatories in every land, and with most favorable results. So liberal indeed were the responses, both in the way of donations and loans, that contributors were requested to forward only a limited number of their choices and rarest specimens. From a single firm came the offer to expend $40,000 on a collection of orchids, including every species that would bloom during the term allotted to the Fair. From Great Britain and German came applications for more space than could be granted; from Holland and Belgium the promise of a magnificent display of bulbs, rhododendrons, and camellias, and from France a proposition - partially accepted - to decorate the entire area surrounding the Horticultural and Woman's buildings. With rare exceptions exhibits were promised by all other foreign countries, near and distant, Jamaica for instance contributing a large number of economic and ornamental plants, and Australia the giant tree-fern, the staghorn fern, and other antipodean curiosities.

In the nursery grounds applications were made for four times the available space. Here is illustrated the growth of fruit trees, from the seed bed to the orchard in bearing, with a miniature vineyard, a citrus grove, peach garden, and a cranberry patch, the last explaining the latest methods of irrigating the plants. By many of the states and by several foreign countries exhibits were forwarded of various kinds of fruit, others, whose fruits were out of season at the opening, being represented by models in wax, presenting exact imitations as to color, size and form.

The grounds are provided with seats and resting places, where visitors, when weary of gazing on the handiwork of man may find relief in viewing the broad expanse of the lake, now smooth and clear as crystal, now ruffled with squalls as sharp and sudden as ever the ocean indulged in. From the southern portion of the [57] grounds a pier was built far out into the lake, which serves not only as a landing place but as a promenade and breakwater, enclosing a harbor large enough for the accommodation of pleasure craft and for minor marine exhibits. Here was landed a large portion of the freight intended for the Fair, and by some this is preferred as a means of access to the grounds, with steamers passing to and fro at intervals, while from the shore end of the pier, and for two-thirds of its length, divided by a spacious waterway, the grand avenue of the Exposition extends westward toward the Administration building. By giving to its floor a slight upward slope, as it leads into the waters of the lake, the pier is so constructed as to afford an uninterrupted view of the entire avenue, with the imposing structures that flank it on either side, displaying at a single glance the architectural grandeur of the design.

For those who prefer to travel by land there are branch lines from many of the railroads centring in Chicago to the main entrance to the grounds. There are also cable, electric, and horse-cars, capable of conveying to and from Jackson Park many thousands of passengers an hour. For such an Exposition, or rather Exposition city, with its magnificent distances, it was necessary that means of interior locomotion should be furnished, and for this most ample facilities were provided. All the cars land their passengers at convenient stations, where careful provision is made for the protection, comfort, and accommodation of visitors. An elevated railroad, run by electric power, passes through the grounds, stopping at convenient points, and a movable sidewalk carries around the pier those whose curiosity inclines them to use this novel method of conveyance. From the general railroad depot on the southwestern verge of the grounds we pass into a spacious avenue and between the facades of the main buildings, extending in unbroken perspective toward the lake. In front is the hall of Administration, beyond which the avenue takes the form of a great square or court, where thousands may gather or disperse without overcrowding or inconvenience.

While many avail themselves of the elevated railway, a more favorite mode of travel is along the waterways, which are nearly three miles in length, and cover an area of sixty-one acres. Through a series of canals, basins, and miniature lakes, small craft of every description are in readiness to convey the visitor to all the principal points of attraction, affording a kaleidoscopic view of the architectural and floral display, the fountains and statuary, and the landscape effects, such as leaves on the mind an impression that will not be readily effaced.

From the central basin, and the great square adjacent, flanked by the more imposing structures, whose well balanced outlines stand forth in bold relief against the sky, with holiday attire of flags and drapery, with floral designs and green parterres, and iridescent fountains, is presented one of the most striking pictures in the display. Still more remarkable is the effect when at night the court is encircled by a tracery of fire through a chain of electric lights, and with electric effect under the fountains and waterways, imparting to this wondrous spectacle a brilliance almost too dazzling for human eye to rest on. Yet there are many who would prefer that this central space should owe less of its attractiveness merely to ornamental features, and that it had been left alone without other setting than the majesty of the buildings which surround it.

Alighting either at the pier, or at the railroad station, which face each other on opposite sides of the grounds, the visitor, passing along the grand avenue, finds himself, let us say, at the point where the canal and great basin intersect. It is perhaps from this point that he can most fully realize the grandeur of the architectural design and its harmony of detail. Approaching the shore end of the pier, he will see toward the right on a headland, from which he is separated by the southern inlet of the lake, a model of the convent of La Rabida, where Columbus tarried while maturing the plan of his expedition. Here are displayed among other exhibits, a number of Columbian relics, together with those of the early explorers of Spanish-America, collected from Spain, Italy, the West Indies, and other old and new world countries. South of the convent is [58] the Forestry building, a unique and tasteful structure of the rustic order, and near to this stands the Dairy building, where are displayed all the latest and more approved appliances for the manufacture of dairy products. Entering the grand avenue, the visitor will pass between two of the largest of the Exposition structures, having on his right the Manufactures and Liberal Arts building, and on his left the Agricultural building. Of these, as of other edifices, I shall give a detailed description elsewhere, presenting here only a general outline of the plan and of the relation to its several parts, together with a few passing features of general interest.

As to the Manufactures building, the main structure of all, the first thing to attract attention is the immensity of its proportions, though relieved from monotony by its severely classical style of architecture, its rows of arches and fluted columns, and the elaborate ornamentation of its facades. Covering a surface of more than thirty acres, and with a floor space of more than forty acres, it extends for nearly one-third of a mile along the shore of Lake Michigan, another side fronting on the grand avenue, a third on the canal and artificial lagoon, while the fourth is separated by a narrow strip from the United States Government Building. A mile, less one hundred yards, in circumference, this gigantic structure occupies more than double the area on which stands the pyramid of Cheops, and more than six times the area on which was reared the national capital. Under its roof could be placed, with room to spare, the Vendome column or the London monument, and from the floor to the highest point of its central span is but a few feet less in altitude than the pillar on Bunker hill.

From this colossal edifice the eye turns with a sense of relief to the Agricultural hall adjacent. Built in the style of the renaissance, and with statuary, typical of agricultural pursuits, grouped in its vestibule and around its entrances, this is one of the most tasteful of all the Exposition structures. Though covering a space of thirteen acres with its annex, it does not offend the taste by extravagence of proportion, and in contrast with the aggressive and dominating edifice which frowns upon it from the opposite side of the avenue, suggests rather beauty and chasteness of design. The annex is intended for the accommodation of all the machinery, and contains a large assembly hall for the use of agricultural associations. Southwest of the annex, and across the line of the elevated railroad, is the Stock pavilion, devoted to the purpose which its title indicates, and still further south are the stock-yards and sheds, with forty acres of covered and twenty of open space, where is held such a live stock exhibit as only Chicago can produce.

Continuing on our way through the grand avenue, we come to the Machinery hall, near the southern line of the park, and separated by a waterway from the Agricultural building. Modeled after the style of the Spanish renaissance, its facades are richly adorned with colonnades and other architectural embellishments, adding greatly to the artistic effect of the central plaze. In its centre is a wide open space, in which is perhaps the largest collection of machinery in motion that has [59] ever been brought together. An interesting feature is the display of electric power, and the power station itself, whence currents are distributed, conveying not only motive force, but heat and light throughout the buildings, and connecting outside the grounds with the telegraph and telephone systems of the world. Only at this station is the use of steam permitted, motive force being elsewhere conveyed by electrical transmission, and to a minor extent by compressed air. Not only is machinery driven by electricity, but the railroad which runs through the park, the boats that ply on the lakes, the elevators, and even the fountains are operated by electric power. Including its annex the Machinery Hall is the second in size of the Exposition buildings, second that is, to the hall of Manufactures and Liberal Arts.

Opposite the Machinery hall and in the centre of the grand plaza is the Administration building, a most tasteful and sightly edifice, perfectly appropriate to its location and environment, and except perhaps for the Art Palace, esteemed as the architectural gem of the Exposition. At the main entrance is a heroic statue of Columbus, and on either side of the several entrances are groups of emblematic sculpture. From its central rotunda rises in graceful lines a gilded dome to a height of 275 feet above the grounds, and resembling somewhat the dome of the Invalides, under which rest the remains of the great Napoleon. West of the building is the principal station for all the railroad and other transportation systems converging on the park, and, as I have said, the only station where cars entering the enclosure of the grounds are allowed to land passengers. Here are the headquarters of officials connected with the Fair, where all employees receive orders and make reports, and where visitors, agents and state and foreign commissioners transact their business. Here also provision is made for public comfort, including a commodious parlor for ladies, and in the rotunda seats are provided for several hundred persons.

Nearly opposite the Administration building, and separated by the main canal from the hall of Manufactures, the Electrical building rears it somewhat fantastic front against the sky, it structural design tending rather to illustration and utility than to proportion or symmetry of outline. Its contents form one of the most interesting of all the exhibits. Here, for the first time in the history of the world, is exemplified in all its details the progress of this the youngest and most progressive of modern sciences, from its earliest inception to its present stage of development. In the electrical exhibits many foreign nations are represented, and to all foreign applicants space was allotted. Special efforts were also made by their several commissioners to form historical collections of all the apparatus used in electrical experiement, some of them long antedating the invention of Samuel Morse. From a list prepared by the chief of this department, the names of the more prominent electricians are inscribed on the friezes above the peristyle. In addition to its other purposes the building is used for the display, but not for the generation, of electricity. At night it is illuminated by 450 arc and 10,000 incandescent lamps, the glare of which is subdued by the artistic blending of colors.

Crossing a portion of the central plaza, we come to the last of the might structures by which it is surrounded, and that is the hall of Mines and Mining, a massive but elaborate edifice, built somewhat after the style of the later Italian renaissance, but with features of the French school in its general design. At various points are emblematic decorations, among them a group of figures above the principal entrance, typical of the industry to which the building is devoted, and a colossal female form in semi-recumbent posture, brandishing aloft the inevitable miner's pick. The exhibit includes large and valuable collections of ores, minerals, and mining products of every description, with machinery and illustrations of the various processes of mining and metallurgy, and of the application of minerals to artistic and industrial purposes.

From the hall of Mines and Mining, leaving on the left the railway station, we pass to the Transportation building, from the lofty cupola of which may be seen to excellent advantage the general effect of buildings and grounds. Here, for the first time in the history of our great world's fairs, a special structure has been set apart for illustrating the progress of transportation in all its branches, whether on land, on water, or in air, apart from a hand-cart to a locomotive, and from an Indian canoe to the swiftest of modern clippers and ocean going steamers. A feature of the display is its illustration of historical development, with a collection of models and reproductions such as has never before been brought together. Passing through the main entrance, in the shape of an immense arch, overlaid with gold leaf, on which are depictured various methods of ancient and modern transportation, we enter the central avenue, on either side of which is a row of locomotives ranging in power from the lightest to the heaviest engine in use, and with their metal work so highly polished as to give [60] to the perspective a striking and novel aspect. Connected with the building is the largest annex on the grounds, for the accommodation of the more bulky exhibits. Of the entire floor space, covering with the annex about fourteen and a half acres, more than one-fourth has been allotted to foreign participants, and with applications for additional room which it was found impossible to afford.

On the roof of the Manufactures building was erected the most powerful search-light in the world, the rays of which are visible at a distance of sixty miles, and bring into view, as distinctly as beneath the meridian sun, any portion of the Exposition grounds. It has a reflector seven and a half feet in diameter, with 25,000 candle power, and was constructed by the Nuremberg electrician, Schuckertt, whose marvelous display at the recent electrical exposition at Frankfort gained for him a world-wide fame. At an elevation of one hundred feet are two others a little smaller in size. With the rays of these several lights, projected in parallel, converging, or diverging rays, sheets of flame may be suspended in air, and the skies, the land, or the waters of the lake lit up for miles around Jackson Park. Add to this the search-lights on the Administration and other buildings, the 6,000 arc lights and the 100,000 incandescent lamps with which the place is illumined by night, and we have a spectacular display such as was never before presented to mortal gaze.

A little further to the north is the Horticultural hall and greenhouses, forming a vast conservatory, and in its centre a spacious dome, beneath which is a collection of palms, tree-ferns, and bamboos. Here are displayed nearly all known varieties of plants, flowers, and seeds, artificial heat being applied to a tropical and sub-tropical species. A feature in this department is a cave lighted by electricity, and from which the light of day is excluded, for the purpose of demonstrating whether plants will grow and thrive under such conditions.

Passing onward, still in a northerly direction, we come to the Woman's building, facing the lagoon and wooded island, around which are grouped most of the structures in the northern portion of the grounds. Designed by a female architect, its interior decorations and exhibits are also of female handiwork, and its control is entirely in the hands of the Board of Lady Managers. Though at all our great world's fairs there have been displays of women's art and industry on a gradually increasing scale, this is the first time that a special edifice has been devoted to that purpose, but with the principal exhibits distributed among the main department of the Exposition. Here also are several so-called roof-gardens and a well-appointed cafe, the former covered with awnings, and used for social gatherings. Many of the departments have been decorated by state or foreign committees, the main parlor, for instance, by the ladies of Cincinnati, another room by those of California, a third by those of Kentucky, while the library owes its furniture and decoration to the state of New York. The colored women of the South are also represented by cotton exhibits, and Indian women by a contribution of richly woven Navajo blankets.

Conspicuous for its location is the Illinois state building, between the Woman's building and the Art palace, located somewhat obtrusively in front of the latter, and the more so since it is the only state edifice to which a site has been allotted among the main structures of the Exposition. The intrusion is, however, pardonable, when we consider that Illinois assumes the first position as to scope and plan of collective exhibits. Moreover, the size of this edifice, covering as it does a space of three acres, would have given to it disproportion of outline if placed among the minor state and territorial buildings.

[61] - As to the Art palace, with its severely classical style of architecture modeled after the Ionic school, its purity of design and symmetry of proportion, there is but one opinion - that it is of itself one of the most artistic features in the Exposition. Exception may, however, be taken to its low, broad dome, surmounted by a colossal and long-winged figure of victory. Rectangular in plan, it is divided by a spacious nave and transept, lined with statuary and architectural casts, into four main galleries, allotted respectively to the exhibits of the United States, Great Britain, France, and Germany, with smaller apartments and annexes for other collections. With a mile of hanging space, sufficient room is left between the rows of pictures to avoid the appearance of overcrowding, which too often mars the effect of similar displays. It is worthy of note that the amount of space applied for by foreign nations was larger than at the Paris Exposition of 1889, the French as usual being strongly represented, and with a collection worthy of this nation of artists. Intended as a permanent structure, the building is of brick, glass and iron, without woodwork or other inflammable materials, and is considered externally fireproof, giving to exhibitors reasonable assurance as to the protection of their treasures from possible conflagration. The grounds in the immediate neighborhood are profusely decorated with groups of statuary and with imitations of Grecian art, among them the Choragic monument and the Cave of the Winds.

On the opposite side of the northern basin, leading from the main lagoon, we come to the Fisheries building, with its marine and fresh-water aquaria, and angling exhibit in circular annexes connected by arcades at either end. With their clean-cut lines, their roofs of old Spanish tile, and their general simplicity and airiness of design, these buildings are in pleasing contrast with the more imposing edifices in their neighborhood, and yet not out of keeping with the general severity of plan. In the arrangement of the capitals, cornices, and other details, a certain fantastic humor is displayed, ichthyological shapes being used as the motif in the design. In the exhibits are found well nigh every form of life that finds a home in river, lake, or ocean, from goldfish, coral insects, and sea anemones to the hideous devilfish that Victor Hugo has described, with masses of moss-covered rock from which flow streams of water in never failing supply.

Between the Fisheries building and the hall of Manufactures and Liberal Arts is the United States Government building modeled somewhat after the style of the National capitol at Washington, but of inferior design. First of all there is the orthodox government dome, rearing its head 150 feet above the ground, with a row of projecting windows, and a lantern resembling a miniature observatory perched on its summit. The structure is mainly of corrugated iron, not very chaste in pattern, nor especially attractive in color and outline. In the act of Congress creating the World's Columbian Commission the secretary of the treasury was instructed to dispose of this edifice at the close of the performance, giving preference to the city of Chicago; but of all the Exposition buildings this is probably the one her citizens would least care to retain for permanent use.

In the construction of these, the unsubstantial fabrics of the Fair, nearly all of which must be removed or converted to other uses, one of the most difficult problems was the selection of suitable materials. For the framework of such huge, if temporary buildings, iron and wood must of course be largely used; but for the casings, the mural decorations, and other ornamental and accessory work, a substance must be found which would be at once inexpensive, plastic, and durable. All these qualities were united in a combination of plaster of Paris with jute or other fibre, resembling a stucco and commonly known as staff, one readily manufactures and handled, easily moulded and colored, and such as enabled the architects to complete their designs at small expense, while giving to their structures all the stability required. The group of edifices that form the housing of the Fair have been aptly termed a sketch in lines of iron and wash of plaster; for with this bright, soft [62] compound most of the mammoth skeletons were clothed and adorned, and with its aid have been reproduced some of the choicest designs in ancient and mediaeval architecture.

After making the circuit of the grounds, except for the space allotted to the several states and foreign nations, there still remains one of the most interesting of exhibits, that of the United States naval department. In front of the Government pavilion, and apparently moored to the wharf on the northeastern shore of the park is a full-sized model of one of the coast line battle ships recently added to the American navy, 348 feet in length by 69 in width, and name the Illinois. Though built on piles, with its hull of brick and concrete, finished with cement, it appears to float on the water, and only after a close inspection can the visitor distinguish it from a genuine ironclad. On board are all the appliances of a man of war, with batteries of breech-loading rifled cannon, with Gatling and other rapid-firing guns, with torpedo tubes and nets and spars, and with all the equipments needed to give to it a thoroughly realistic appearance. During the term of the Fair the Illinois will be virtually in commission, with officers and seamen, marines, and mechanics, subject to the strictest of naval discipline, and with uniforms resembling those in use during the revolutionary war with Mexico. There are cabins, state-rooms, and berths, with mess-rooms and mess-tables, as provided by navy regulations; there are daily drills and exercises at hours convenient to the public, while on the upper deck and the bridge above is displayed the method of handling guns and search-lights, and the appliances at the disposal of the commander when taking his ship into action.

Scattered throughout the grounds are minor buildings and exhibits, among the more interesting of which are a workingman's home, a logger's camp, an Indian school, a heliographic exhibit, a lighthouse, a weather bureau, a life saving station, an angler's camp, a children's exhibit, a military hospital, a Japanese tea house, and an Esquimau village.

West of the Woman's building is the Midway plaisance, where we come to a special department, including many interesting features, and forming what may be called a bazaar of all nations. Here is a street in Cairo, similar to the Rue de Caire at the Paris Exposition of 1889, but on a larger scale; there are panoramic and theatrical displays, cafes and refreshment booths, with scores of devices and appliances for comfort, instruction, and entertainment, from a model of St. Peter's to a Hungarian Orpheum. There are also Dahomey, Indian, Chinese, Turkish, German, and other villages, tenanted by living representatives of savage, civilized, and semi-civilized nations. Here is an immense captive balloon, an ice railway, a Moorish palace, Japanese bazaar, a Bohemian glass factory, an exhibition of Irish industries, especially that of lace making, and a circular railroad tower.

North and west of the Art palace is the space allotted for the buildings and exhibits of the states and territories, nearly all of which are represented either officially or by private contributions. Most of them are on a modest scale, not more than an average of 75 by 100 feet, and some of them so fashioned as to represent historical or other features of local or national interest. The Pennsylvania building, for instance, with its allegorical groups and statues of Penn and Franklin, is of the colonial style of architecture, and here is reproduced the historic clock-tower, with its liberty bell and huge dial clock as in the days of seventy-six. In the Massachusetts [63] edifice is a reproduction of the Hancock house, of Boston fame, while Maryland gives us her state capital; Florida a model of old Fort Marion; North Carolina, the Tyron palace; California and Texas, old Spanish missions, treated in different styles of architecture; Iowa, a reproduction of the famous Sioux City corn palace; and Virginia, a facsimile of Washington's mansion at Mount Vernon.

Southeast of the Art palace, and partially fronting the shore of the lake is the ground set apart for foreign participants, the best site being allotted to Great Britain, near the northern inlet. Of all the gratifying features of the Exposition, perhaps the most gratifying was the cordial cooperation of foreign powers, who, for the most part without prospect of material benefit, contributed, apart from the value of their exhibits, a larger amount than the total appropriations and subscriptions of all the states and territories of the American republic. Many of them, as I have said, have erected their own government buildings, and to others concessions were granted for the erection of theatres, restaurants, stores, and other structures in which to illustrate their several customs, usages, and modes of life. From nearly all the civilized nations came applications for space, while at no other of the world's great fairs have more than half of them been represented. Even Russia, which had hitherto taken no part in such exhibitions, applied for and was granted 100,000 square feet of room, promising to send, among other exhibits, a collection of art treasures never before permitted to leave the realms of the czar.

It may be said indeed that largely through the efforts of the management, an interest, ripening into enthusiasm, was created in this festival of art and industry throughout the world. Of this we have sufficient evidence in the general character of the exhibits, and in the applications for space by domestic and foreign exhibitors. So ably were affairs administered that, notwithstanding the vast area at the disposal of the managers, their difficulty was not to secure, but to accommodate participants. On the first of October, 1892, after allotments to a large number of applicants, there remained at their disposal somewhat less than 3,000,000 square feet. But at that date the applications from foreign countries alone were for 2,500,000 feet, while state, municipal, and individual applicants from every portion of the United States asked for a total of 5, - 600,000 feet. Hence even at this early period, it became evident that there would not be room for much more than one-third of the profered exhibits. [64] Moreover, new applications were being received by every mail, and judging by the precedent of the Centennial Exposition, would continue to be received well into the summer months. Under these conditions the managers decided to follow the rule established at other international exhibitions, which was to divide the available space about equally between their own and foreign lands, though giving to the former a slightly larger proportion, in view of the area, population, and industrial development of the United States. Thus to foreign countries were assigned 1,300,000 square feet, or a little more than half the space requested, and to home exhibits, 1,600,000 feet or less than one third of the space applied for, and probably less than one sixth of the space to be applied for. Offered as it has been an almost unlimited choice of materials for the great display, the management has been enabled to present to the world a collection such as in value, variety, and certain features of artistic excellence, has never been equaled.

Of the magnificent proportions of the Fair there can be no better illustration than the mere fact that the space allotted to foreign exhibits is greater than the entire space occupied by most of the previous international expositions. But even this conveys only a feeble idea of the feat accomplished by the managers. We must also consider the special difficulties overcome in the preparation of the site, in converting that site into a garden spot, filled with landscape effects of most artistic design, in constructing all these mammoth edifices within a briefer period than is often required for the erection of a single business block, and in the coordination of the several plans under a system adapted to the needs of the time and place. That the work has been well done will not, I think, be disputed; nor can there be any question as to the zeal, intelligence, and patient toiled displayed in its execution. If here and there be evidence of lack of taste or judgment, the wonder is that among such a multitude of artificers there were not more serious shortcomings; nor should they be permitted to detract from the high standard of achievement realized by professional skill and enthusiasm.

When first it became known that Chicago had assumed the task of presenting to the world the world's progress in arts, inventions, and industries, there were those who prophesied that she would be found unequal to the occasion. None doubted as to her resources immediately available, as to enterprise, adaptability, and skillful workmanship. But here was an exploit such as she had never before attempted, such as, except for Philadelphia, had never been elsewhere attempted, save by the most cultured and experienced of old-world communities. It was an exploit for which she had no special training or preparation, and what was more, it was thought to be one foreign to the genius of her citizens, whose motto "I will," applied according to the popular idea, only to material pursuits. By press and people the opinion was freely expressed that the work would have been better accomplished elsewhere, as at the national capital, under government control, or at New York, as the chief city alike of social, industrial, and commercial interests.

While from Chicago much was expected, it was scarcely thought there would be as a whole an artistic and harmonious display. Some buildings and exhibits there might be superior to any that had been; but here was hardly expected the discrimination to judge aright as to the artistic merit, or the symmetry of structural design; nor was it probable that, among so many architects, such unity of plan and treatment could be secured as would impart to the general aspect an air of impressiveness. At best we could expect only pseudo-art, or even a subordination of art to utilitarian aptitude, relieved here and there by individual features of excellence. That such ideas were erroneous has long since been conceded. Through the efforts of certain practical business men, subscribing and securing subscriptions for the necessary funds, a corps of architects was brought together, for the most part unknown to each other, and accustomed to plan and execute independently each in his own field, willing however to sink personal pride, unite for a common purpose, and accept one from the other mutual criticism and advice, so as to produce in this city of the Fair a unique and homogenous spectacle, one where every design bears upon it the handwriting of the artificer, and where every building is adapted to its special use.

To the chief of construction, Daniel H. Burnham, and his late associate, John W. Root, whose death early in its formative period was a serious drawback to the Exposition, was mainly due this excellent choice of professional assistance. Opposing from the first the plan of throwing open the contracts to general competition, the chief urged on an unwilling committee the selection of men of approved reputation and ability, and that with such firmness and persistence that the committee finally yielded. In a report to this committee dated December 6, 1890, and signed at his own solicitation by all its professional advisers, he stated briefly and tersely all the advantages and disadvantages of the several modes of selection; first, that of a single architect to whom should be intrusted the entire design; second, competition among the entire profession; third, [65] competition among a few; and fourth, direct selection. "Far better than any of the methods," he says, "appears to be the last. This is to appoint a certain number of architects, choosing each man for such work as would be must nearly parallel with his best achievements; these architects to meet in conference, and become masters of all the elements of the problems to be solved, and agree upon some general scheme of procedure; the preliminary studies resulting from this to be compared and freely discussed in a subsequent conference, and with the assistance of such suggestions as your advisers might make, to be brought into a harmonious whole. The honor conferred on those selected would create in their minds a disposition to place the artistic quality of their work in advance of the mere question of emolument, while the emulation begotten in a rivalry so dignified and friendly could not fail to be productive of a result which would stand before world as the best fruit of American civilization."

Thus from Chicago, New York, Boston, and Kansas City, but mainly from the two first a staff of architects was chosen, whose work has, with rare exception, left no doubt as to the propriety of their selection. While receiving but a small proportion of their usual income, purely from love of art they devoted their time and talents to the enterprise with a zeal and enthusiasm worthy of themselves and of the trust which the nation imposed in them. As with the head of the construction department, so with the chiefs of sub-departments, all were men preeminently fitted for their task, fitted not only by training and experience, but by energy, skill, adaptability, and an almost phenomenal capacity for toil.

Under the chieftainship of Mr. Burnham, with his knowledge of men and executive ability, each of his staff of colleagues, while contributing to the general harmony of form, was enabled largely to embody his own ideas. Nevertheless, to preserve a certain uniformity of design, and bring each structure as far as possible into architectural relation with its neighbor, nearly all the original plans were to a certain extent modified. It is through these changes of plan, more perhaps than by the plans themselves, that the structural entirety was relieved from any trance of monotony or commonplace. Probably never before were brought together so many artificers displaying such collective ability, and though gathered from distant cities, working in unison for a common purpose. Only through this combination of skill, intelligence, and devotion to the interests of the cause was rendered possible the now accomplished fact. On Charles B. Atwood, the artificer of the palace of Fine Arts, one of the foremost of New York's architects, was conferred the appointment of designer-in-chief. By Richard M. Hunt was conceived the unique and graceful design of the Administration building. Through the ingenuity of George B. Post the facades of the Manufactures and Liberal Arts building were relieved of monotony. By Charles F. McKim were planned the symmetrical proportions of the Agricultural hall; by Peabody and Stearns the stately structure of the Machinery hall; by S. S. Beman the massive hall of Mines and Mining; by Henry Van Brunt the striking if somewhat eccentric Electrical building; by Louis H. Sullivan the commodious Transportation building; by W. L. B. Jenney the spacious Horticultural hall; by Henry Ives Cobb the fanciful and ingenious Fisheries building; by W. J. Edbrooke and his predecessor, Mr. Windrim, the Government building; by F. W. Crogan the Naval exhibit; by Francis M. Whitehouse the group of buildings at the head of the pier, and by Miss Sophia C. Hayden, selected from a large number of competitors for beauty and harmony of design, was planned the Woman's building.

To Mr. Burnham's lieutenant, E. R. Graham, with his energy and attention to detail, was largely due the efficiency of the construction department. At the weekly meeting over which he presided were discussed by the members of the staff all questions relating to structural design, and thus in the execution of the work was secured a general uniformity of plan which might else have suffered from too much freedom of style. Nor should we omit the name of Frederick Sargent, the engineer of the electrical and mechanical departments, with his adaptation of the more recent and approved appliances; nor those of Dion Geraldine, formerly the general superintendent, and of E. C. Shankland, the engineer of [66] construction, by whom were devised striking effects in wood and iron. All these and others, working together in accord as one executive body, have given to the city of the Fair its monumental and yet harmonious proportions.

In the management of this enterprise Mr. Burnham and his associates have displayed an administrative faculty second only to their constructive and artistic ability; nor is it possible to speak too highly of the faithfulness and zeal with which they have discharged their manifold duties. Receiving his instructions from the board of directors, the chief gave to each member of the staff his own special orders, and these in turn to their subordinates, thus setting in motion the complex machinery by which the work was executed with the precision and system of a military parade. While in Mr. Burnham was vested the general supervision and control, many points were referred to special experts or to the weekly conclave, and especially such as related to the every recurring choice between the utilitarian and the artistic. Though the decisions of both were subject to the modification of the chief, there was seldom serious conflict of opinion, for everything was discussed and determined in a spirit of fairness and mutual toleration, every suggestion was considered, and every argument received a hearing. Thus were engendered a loyalty and devotion to the cause which spread from the chief to each member of his staff, and even to the army of mechanics and laborers, who needed no further stimulus to put forth their utmost endeavor. Here is one of the secrets of success in the structural development of the Exposition.

Said a member of the Spanish legation, "The Chicago buildings are the buildings we should have seen in Paris, and those of the Paris exhibition are what we might have expected to find in Chicago." While the eulogy contained in this remark may savor of flattery, it is something more than flattery. If Chicago has not built better than she know, she has at least built better than other people knew, and notwithstanding the monumental style of architecture, a style rendered necessary by the vast proportions of the display, she has more than fulfilled the high standard of excellence conceived by her corps of artificers. As with the Paris, so with the Chicago Fair, one of the most attractive features was its conception as a whole, its uniformity of scheme, the arrangement of its buildings on a consistent yet diversified plan, one permitting such individual features of technique and expression as would relieve it from sameness, and from the coldness of a merely classical composition.

In some points at least the Chicago display excels all others, as in the beauty of its site, bordered by the lake, and with its landscape gardening and waterways, forming a novel and artistic setting such as in few places were possible. Another feature is the profusion of ornamental and accessory work in sculpture, painting, and mural decoration, relieving what might otherwise be considered a too strict uniformity of design. But with all the luxury of ornamentation, none of these minor features were allowed to interfere with the general [67] harmony of effect. Nor were any of the buildings erected merely to gratify a vulgar curiosity, or to appeal to the popular love of the marvelous.

"If," says one of the architects, in speaking of the buildings that surround the court, "each man had been permitted or encouraged to make his especial building an unrestricted exhibition of his archaeological knowledge or ingenuity of design, we should have had a curious, and in some respects perhaps an interesting and instructive polyglot or confusion of tongues, such as in the early scriptural times on the plains of Shinar was so detrimental to architectural success. The show might have contained some elements of the great American style; but as a whole it would have been a hazardous experiment, and it certainly would have perplexed the critics. In respect to the architecture of the great court, therefore, it seemed at least safer to proceed according to established formulas, and to let the special use and object of each building, and the personal equation of the architect employed on it, do what they properly could within these limits to secure variety and movement." To some it may appear inconsistent to display modern industry in temples whose style of architecture carries the mind back to the days of Augustus Caesar and of Pericles, to place, for instance, hydraulic presses in a building into which one passes between classic columns of an order devised more than a thousand years before printing was invented. But in other fields than this art has been made subordinate to the utilities.

That Chicago has carried out her self-imposed task with a loyalty and faithfulness, and with a skill and taste that have won even the admiration of rival cities, is perhaps the greatest of all her achievements. Had she merely given us an exposition equal to our other world's fairs, one in which were adopted their more attractive features, with such improvements as might be suggested by her own artificers, even this would have been to her credit. But her plan was based on an original idea, and in execution was no less original than in conception. Not only was that plan of wider scope, but in the main of more skillful design than anything witnessed at other international expositions. From Americans it has gained at least the acknowledgment that American art exists, and that in striking and genuine form, a form distinctively our own, and worthy of more than the cold recognition accorded in certain quarters. From the world at large this rich and imposing display, prepared for the world's instruction and entertainment, has received a just and intelligent appreciation, has added to the respect with which our country is regarded among all other countries of the earth, and has revealed to them something of the qualities which have won for us a foremost rank among the great sisterhood of nations.

World's Fair Miscellany

Among the many difficulties encountered by the Construction department was the intensely cold and stormy weather, accompanied with heavy snowfalls, which marked the winter preceding the opening of the Fair, one of the severest in the annals of Chicago. For weeks the buildings were capped with snow and ice, the melting of which caused a severe strain on the roofs, crushing in portions and causing slight interior damage. Even under this disadvantage work was continued as usual, and with such energy that by the close of January, 1893, not only the principal structures, but many of the state and foreign buildings were practically completed. So perfect was the attention to detail, that of nearly three hundred hydrants used on the grounds, not one was rendered useless by frost. Exhibits, however, both foreign and domestic, came forward but slowly, some vessels being ice-bound, and other delayed by heavy gales. Thus the work of installation was retarded, and here was the only serious mischief caused by this bleak Chicago winter, though a winter less harsh than in some southern portions of the republic.

On these, as on other Exposition matters, there were the usual exaggerations; for not only were several other cities jealous of Chicago, but the various sections of Chicago were jealous of the one to which fell the location of the site. A little before New Year occurred a thaw, which wrought most damage in the Manufactures building, and the effects of which are thus described by one writing of the Lake city: "Nothing could have withstood the tremendous power and weight of the snow. The corrugated sheeting of the gutter along the edge of the main roof curled up like paper, and was carried in great strips to the roof of the annex below. The wooden supports of the skylights were broken and twisted in a thousand shapes. Thousands of panes of glass were splintered. Great sections of the roof gave way, and fell to the floor below. An hour after the first disastrous accident another huge section of snow fell, crashing through the roof two or three hundred feet south of the first break, and leaving an opening fifty feet in length. So great was the concussion that a plate of glass, carried downward in the great mass of snow and splintered framework, was embedded in the floor and stood upright, as though placed on edge by a glazier."

By other the damage was no less exaggerated, the cost of repairs for the roof of the Manufactures building along being variously estimated at from $25,000 to $100,000, while as a fact its original cost was little above the latter amount. Said one of the officials, "The injuries done to the Manufactures and Agricultural buildings and the Machinery palace will not exceed $5,000." By another the damaged area was stated at 32,000 square feet, which could be replaced for fourteen cents a foot, or $4,480 in all.

About this time it began to be noised abroad that to complete the buildings and their repairs, and to install the exhibits by the 1st of May, would be a task beyond the powers of the managers. Said the Chicago correspondent of a leading San Francisco journal, writing from Jackson Park in February, 1893: "This seems to be an impossibility. To be sure, those in charge claim that they will be ready on time. Still the cold-blooded fact stares one in the face that only the Woman's building is anywhere near completion inside and out." The writer did not seem to be aware that the Construction department had little to do with the interior of the Woman's or any other of the buildings, the decoration of which was left in the hands of the exhibitors.

To afford some faint conception as to the proportions of the Fair, it may be stated that, in the construction of the main buildings there were used nearly 20,000 tons of iron and steel and 30,000 tons of staff, many thousand tons of glass, and about 70,000,000 feet of lumber. For installing the exhibits 25,000 men were required, and during the term of the Exposition it was estimated that, including those in state and foreign buildings, 70,000 employees would be needed. As the opening day grew night, 15,000 men were engaged in cleaning the grounds, in painting, and making repairs, all contractors being required to complete their work as far as possible before the 1st of May.

To paint the buildings by the ordinary method was found to be an impossible task within the time allotted. A contrivance was therefore fashioned by Frank D. Millet, in charge of the Decoration department, whereby four men, working in unison, could accomplish the task of fifty. It consisted of a piece of gas-pipe so shaped at one end as to discharge a spray of paint, and from which a rubber hose connected with an air-pump driven by electric power. By the [68] pump paint was drawn from a barrel and scattered by force of air over the surface to be coated.

The reasons for painting the buildings white, thus giving to the Fair its appellation of White city, Mr. Millet explains in an article contributed to an eastern magazine: "Every experiment," he says, "which has been made to produce aesthetic effects of texture, suggested by the usual treatment of plaster objects, has resulted in partial or in total failure, and every time the warm white of the staff has been meddled with its glory has departed. But the conditions imposed by the climate, by the impossibility of securing a homogeneous surface, and by the exposure and consequent discoloration of a certain portion of the work have made it necessary to apply some sort of paint to all the buildings. Ordinary white lead and oil have been found to give the best results, for the irregular absorption of the staff and the weathering rapidly produce and agreeable and not too monotonous effect, and the surface deteriorates less rapidly after this treatment."

Available for water transportation there is a number of steamers with a carrying capacity of several thousand persons. By water the trip occupies three-quarters of an hour; by rail about half that time. Among the steamers is one of the so-called whale-back boats, the shape of whose hull avoids much of the pitching and rolling which adds not to the charm of lake or ocean travel.

To New York company was awarded the privilege of running boats driven by electricity on the waterways with which the grounds are interlaced, the company paying therefor one-third of its gross receipts. The plan was at one time to place on these waters vessels of every known description, from a Chines junk to a Venetian gondola, manned by native attired in national costume, with Thames wherries rowed by Englishmen and canoes paddled by red men, with common row-boats, express and omnibus boats so called, making the trip around the waterways, and stopping at the landing steps of the principal buildings. There were also to be catamarans, such as are used on the waters of Hindostan, rudderless craft built of unhewn tree trunks, held together by coir ropes, the palia dhundi, equally rude and rough in construction, with matting or course cotton sail; the Aleutian bidarka, the Thlinkeet shell, and others from all nations, civilized, semi-civilized, and savage.

By a prominent physician excellent advice was offered to intending visitors, from which I extract the following: "Before going to Chicago, determine whether you are physically able to go, and can afford it. Take with you no one for whom you are responsible, without the approval of your physician. When you reach Chicago make it your first business to secure wholesome and comfortable lodgings. Avoid excessive fatigue. Eat regularly, lightly, and frequently of plain and wholesome food. Drink moderately and carefully, avoiding unknown and unaccustomed beverages." It is also recommended that those who have made no previous arrangements should avail themselves of established and reputable agencies, as of the bureau of Public Comfort, to be mentioned later, rejecting all interested advice or personal solicitation. A great exposition, with its endless succession of vivid and exciting impressions, accompanied with continuous physical exertion, is one of the most fatiguing things on earth; thus the average visitor needs something more than a mere room in which to sleep or rest, while recovering from the tension of sight-seeing.

Before New Year's day of 1893 it was reported by the department of decoration that nearly two hundred banners had been made, and some 15,000 yards of bunting fashioned for decorative purposes.

At the close of the Fair the managers are required by the terms of their agreement to restore the grounds to such conditions as the park commissioners may determine; but the best of the landscape features will remain.

From the sale of the Exposition structures or their materials a considerable amount should be realized, above the cost of their removal or demolition. The trusses for instance, and the metallic portions of the framework can be utilized for railroad and other purposes, especially those of the Manufactures building, which contains more steel and iron than was used in the construction of the Brooklyn bridge. Of the thousands of acres of pine and other timber that has been converted into buildings, some use at least should be made, if only for rough lumber or firewood, while the thousands of tons of glass will still retain a certain market value. Nevertheless it is probably that the managers' estimate of $1,500,000 as salvage is somewhat above the mark. Let the grounds and some few features of the Fair be preserved and Jackson Park will never be a classic spot.

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