Century of Progress


Century of Progress 1933-34

The official poster for the fair.

The official poster for the fair.
(designed by George B. Petty)

A Century of Progress International Exposition was held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Chicago. Its theme, as given in A Century of Progress Chicago International Exposition of 1933 Statement of its Plan and Purposes and of the Relation of States and Foreign Governments to Them (Chicago, 1933). was to "attempt to demonstrate to an international audience the nature and significance of scientific discoveries, the methods of achieving them, and the changes which their application has wrought in industry and in living conditions." This was done through exhibits that appealed to the public in general, often with miniaturized or replicated processes.

Crowds around the Infant Incubator building on the Midway.

Crowds around the Infant Incubator
building on the Midway. (CHS ICHi-23335)

The fair was held on 427 acres (much of it landfill) on Lake Michigan, immediately south of Chicago's downtown area, from 12th Street to 39th Street (now Pershing Road). Today, Meigs Field and McCormick Place occupy this site. A Century of Progress officially opened on May 27, 1933 and closed on November 12 of that year. Although originally planned for the 1933, season only, it was extended for another year, reopening on May 26, 1934, and closing on October 31, 1934. This extension was due in part to the fair's public popularity, but mainly as an effort to earn sufficient income to retire its debts.

Souvenir salt and pepper shakers,1934.

Souvenir salt and pepper
shakers, 1934. (CHS 1997.72a)




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