In the late 1800s, Chicago had a goal to transform its image from a stockyard city to a world-class destination. They accomplished this by winning the bid for the 1893 World’s Fair, with the help of architect Daniel Burnham. Despite setbacks and controversy, the Fair was a huge success, drawing 27 million visitors and making $35 million in revenue. The Fair was a celebration of technology, culture, and everyday life. It was a showcase of innovation and advancements, and many everyday things we still use today made their grand debut at the fair. While these things weren’t invented specifically for the 1893 Worlds Fair, they had only seen a small market area. From products to technology and design, the fair marked lasting changes in the way we live and shaped the future.
How the 1893 World’s Fair ‘White City’ Spread the Vision of the ‘City Beautiful’
The 1893 World’s Fair, also called the “White City” for the bright white paint applied to the Beaux Arts architecture, was Burnham’s chance to share his concept of the ideal city. He called his plan “City Beautiful.” Burnham believed that grand architecture that evoked ancient traditions would serve as a point of civic pride and spark reform of the some of the seedy side of cities. The White City, Burnham believed, could serve as a template for city development around the world. The idea was for civic leaders to observe the grand design of the Fair and replicate it back in their own communities. This was applied, in part, in American cities such as Chicago, St. Paul, Washington DC, and Cleveland, and overseas in Manila, Melbourne.