Tag Archives: Christopher Columbus

A Peek Into the Past




The Field Museum in Chicago is opening its vaults to exhibit  memorabilia from the Columbian Exposition, aka 1893 World’s Fair, to let us take a trip back in time to turn of 20th century America.

46 countries participated in the World’s Fair that commemorated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the New World.  Chicago beat out a host of other cities, including NYC, for the honor.  Over 20 million people visited the fair during its six month run.  Designed by Daniel Burnham  and Frederick Law Olmstead, the Exposition was dubbed the White City.

Why you ask?

Because most of the buildings were covered in white stucco, creating a luminescent quality against the dreary Chicago tenements of the time.  In addition, the use of electric street lights were extensively used allowing the fair to extend its hours of operation into the dark evening hours.

Basically a beautiful glowing white city emerged to entice visitors!

If you’re not a history buff and are wondering what the exhibit might have to offer, here are some inventions and technological advances that had their firsts at the exposition. Today, all of these items are commonplace but back in 1893, these simple devices and products were MARVELS.

Debuts of:
–Cracker Jacks
–Cream of Wheat and Shredded What cereals
–Juicy Fruit gum
–Pabst Blue Ribbon beer
–diet soda
–Aunt Jemima’s pancake mix
–1st commemorative stamp set

–1st completely electric kitchen including an early dishwasher
–phosphorescent lights (the precursor to modern fluorescent lights)
–the zipper

And many, many more.

Other interesting tidbits:

–One of the first nighttime football game was played at the fair.

–Hula dancers performed at the fair increasing the awareness of Hawaiian music within the continental US.

–The first Ferris Wheel was unveiled, thrilling visitors with daily rides at the exposition.

Nikola Tesla presented a number of electrical effect demonstrations including his gas-discharge lamp.

–And on a darker note, widely known as America’s first serial killer, H.H. Holmes took advantage of the exposition’s chaos and transient nature to lure unsuspectingly travelers to their deaths.

Plus many, many more!

As a girl fascinated (and perhaps a little obsessed) by late 19th century life, this exhibit sounds amazing. I am making a it a MUST-GO for when I visit my family over the holidays.

If you’ll be in the Chicago area, go check out the exhibit.  It runs from Oct 25, 2013-Sept 7, 2014.

WF Identity color

(photo credits (top to bottom): wikipedia.com The Field Museum )