Saturday, June 26, 2010

Imagining a White City

Here I am., strolling the Midway Plaisance:

It's something my friend, Beth, and I have wanted to do since reading Erik Larson's Devil in the White City. To walk the grounds that once held the greatest fair in the world. To catch a glimpse of what exactly drew Helen Keller, Buffalo Bill, Thomas Edison, L. Frank Baum, and others to visit. To imagine the sight that was the world's first Ferris Wheel and envision the attractions and amusements that saw 27 million in attendance.

The World's Columbian Exposition (1893) introduced Cracker Jack, Juicy Fruit, and Shredded Wheat. It inspired Baum's Emerald City and Walt Disney's theme parks. It had the first commercial movie theater and was where Milton Hershey first purchased chocolate manufacturing equipment. It also was where the "Snake Charmer Song" was written ... you know, to set the mood for the "Streets of Cairo" exhibit (complete with belly dancing).

It was also home to America's first serial killer.

But we'll get into that another time. For now, let's just enjoy the Midway, shall we?

(Photo taken from the east end of the Midway. The railroad was directly behind me.)

To view a map of the Midway during the fair, go here.

And lastly, a photo of the Midway in its glory:

If you would be so kind and are into entertaining thoughts of parallel universes, please take a moment to imagine me and Beth to be but specks in the distance, facing the camera (which I assume was up on the Ferris Wheel in order to get a shot this good) and taking pictures of our own. Mine, I posted above.
Thank you. I do appreciate it.


  1. At Beth's recommendation, I read Devil in the White City. I loved the descriptions of the fair, but the rest of it was depressing. Murder, ugh.


  2. I loved that book! I was surprised that I loved a non-fiction book that much!