Final Thoughts: Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair

The chief legacies of the World’s Columbian Exposition were the highlighting of women’s issues and accomplishments and, through the efforts of Frederick Douglas, Ida B. Wells, and Paul Dunbar, greater awareness of African Americans’ contributions to and exclusion from American society.

Joseph M. Di Cola and David Stone, Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair

I recently finished reading Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair by Joseph M. Di Cola and David Stone. It is primarily a pictorial overview of the great buildings and notable statues from the fair, but there is a lot of interesting commentary on what was to be found at the fair and what the legacies it left behind.

While I loved having basically a catalogue of images of the buildings and major locations at the Fair, I would really have liked more details on what else was there. What new things were first introduced at the fair? A few are mentioned, but there was so much more. What were the different country displays like? What art was displayed in the buildings? What scientific developments and discoveries were first shown or discovered at the Fair? So much happened there and as much as I loved what was in this book, every image and caption just made me want to know more!

Clearly I need to find more books about this event and about the lasting impact it had on the world. It doesn’t seem like one event, especially one so steeped in politics and personal interests, could have made so much difference, but it did. So much was impacted both by the Fair and what was to be found there and by the process and philosophies that led to it in the first place. It gave a physical manifestion and basically real world test run for so many concepts that would affect far beyond Chicago and the Columbian Exposition. Things like the idea of beautifying cities, new kinds of architecture, and new sciences and inventions.

This is a really useful book for seeing the buildings and large exhibits at the Fair, though, and for the clear, well chosen pictures alone it is well worth going through. This paired with a more text-heavy analysis or history of the Fair and it’s displays would be a great way to learn more about this historical event. And if you just want a taste of the history and a look at some amazing structures, it’s a perfect choice!

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