Century of Progress


A Century of Progress 1933-34

Mayor Ed Kelly proposes a

Mayor Ed Kelly proposes a "Chicago Week" instead of "Chicago Day" to be celebrated by the fair. (CHS Edward J. Kelly letter file, 1933)

A Century of Progress had been incorporated, on January 5, 1928, as a non-profit enterprise. But, a profit had been made! For the period of January 5, 1928, to December 31, 1934, total revenues were $43,589,154; total expenses were $42,900,989. This left a sum of $688,165 for "organization expenses, demolition, and final liquidation." These expenditures left a sum of $160,000, which was divided (by prior agreement) between the South Park Corporation (the "landlord" of A Century Of Progress, later absorbed by the Chicago Park District), the Museum of Science and Industry, the Art Institute, the Adler Planetarium, and other organizations involved in the preservation of some of the fair's exhibitions after its closing.

Sally Rand and her famous fan.

Sally Rand and her famous fan.

When one thinks of personalities associated with A Century of Progress, it is probably Sally Rand of fan dance fame who first comes to mind. On a more serious note, one can consider those individuals responsible for the planning and execution of the fair; Rufus C. Dawes, president of the board of trustees (and brother of former U.S. Vice President Charles G. Dawes); Charles S. Peterson, vice president; Daniel H. Burnham, Jr. (son of Daniel H. Burnham, designer/architect of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition) secretary; and George Woodruff, treasurer. Lenox R. Lohr, general manager of A Century of Progress, later wrote Fair Management, the authoritative work on all aspects of A Century of Progress (see bibliography).

The cover of this sewing kit shows the vivid colors that were representative of the fair.

The cover of this sewing kit shows the vivid colors
that were representative of the fair. (CHS 1996.101)

The architectural commission for the fair, appointed by the fair's board, was composed of architects of national renown, among them Hubert Burnham (also a son of Daniel H. Burnham, Sr.), Edward H. Bennett, and John A. Holabird. Joseph Urban, as director of color, was responsible for the innovative and controversial color scheme of the fair --"Rainbow City," the people called it. In contrast to "The White City" -- the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893--A Century of Progress was vibrant with color. Buildings were painted with color schemes, usually of four hues, from the total palette of 23 colors in 1933; and a more limited range of ten hues in 1934. Night-time illumination with white and colored lights heightened the effect. In 1934, the coordination of color schemes throughout the fairground aided the fairgoer in his progress through the grounds.





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