The World's Columbian Exposition


The World's Columbian Exposition

Frederick Law Olmsted, America's foremost landscape architect, was responsible for laying out the fairgrounds. Jackson Park, the product of that effort, is still one of Chicago's most beautiful parks. A distinguished group of architects, including Henry Ives Cobb, Richard Morris Hunt, Charles McKim, George B. Post, and Louis Sullivan designed the exposition's buildings under the supervision of Daniel H. Burnham. Sophie Hayden, the first woman awarded a degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), designed the famous Woman's Building.

The Woman's Building, designed by
Sophie Hayden. The building symbolized the
importance of women at the Exposition. 
Photograph by William H. Jackson.

The Woman's Building, designed by Sophie Hayden.
The building symbolized the importance of women at
the Exposition. Photograph by William H. Jackson.
(CHS ICHi 17136)

Planners selected a classical architectural theme for the fair over the objections of the more innovative Chicago architects. Sullivan later predicted that "the damage wrought by the World's Fair will last for half a century from its date, if not longer." Some architectural historians have shared Sullivan's opinion, but others have emphasized the exposition's positive contributions to city planning, in the City Beautiful movement that followed.

View of the Fish and Fisheries Building, designed by Henry Ives Cobb. The photo was taken from Wooden Island.

View of the Fish and Fisheries Building, designed
by Henry Ives Cobb. The photo was taken from
Wooden Island. (CHS ICHi 02325)

The buildings housed sixty-five exhibits that followed the theme of the building. Some of the more popular exhibits were curiosities rather than serious displays of technology and progress. They included an eleven-ton cheese and a 1,500 pound chocolate Venus de Milo in the Hall of Agriculture and a seventy-foot-high tower of light bulbs in the Electricity Building.

This eleven-ton block of cheese from Canada drew the crowds into the Agriculture Building.

This eleven-ton block of cheese from Canada drew the crowds into the Agriculture Building.

A western farm produced in miniature on display in the Agriculture Building.

A western farm produced in miniature on display in the Agriculture Building. (CHS ICHi 25046)



Al Capone
Black Sox
Century of Progress
Chicago Fire
World's Columbian Expo
Expo Photo Gallery
Expo Artifacts
Expo Bibliography
Parades, Protests and Politics
The Pullman Era
The Stockyards
Fort Dearborn

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