and Preservation home. Jackson
Park home. Jackson
Park History (incl. Viking Ship). Jackson
Statue of The Republic. Korean Exhibit. Iowa Building home. Paved Granite Beach. Lagoons and Olmsted. Wooded Island. The Old Oak. Osaka Japanese Garden. Frederick Douglass at Columbian Exposition/Haiti Pavilion and dedication of new monument to FD.
Hyde Park Historical Society website.
World's Columbian Exposition of 1893
page is bought to you by the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and
its website, www.hydepark.org as well as Jackson Park Advisory Council.
Help support the Conference's work: join.
Phoenix Hall panels restored, reunited, on view! MSI completes critical stonemasonry restorations
The pages at the top have
more about the Exposition. Be sure to explore the site of the Hyde
Park Historical Society (www.hydeparkhistory.org)
including the Autumn 2010 issue (v35n4) of Hyde Park History, article on the
Midway, which can be downloaded from their website.
Iowa page in this website has material on the Germania fragments found during recent Lake Shore Drive construction. (As far as this writer knows, the fragments are in the roundhouse building in Washington Park that is in process of being converted to part of DuSable Museum.)
Watch sometime for more of Paul Durica's "The Pocket Guide to Hell" tours; google him to find his "A Working Man's Guide to the Columbian Exposition." And watch for the next Chicago Architecture Foundation tour of the Columbian footprint.
The Hyde Park Historical Society has nearly monthly lectures, exhibits, a great website, and a major focus on the Columbian Exposition. Visit http://www.hydeparkhistory.org. Headquarters with library and exhibits is open Sats. and Suns. 2-4 pm.
Columbian Exposition and Devil in... tours with Bill Hinchliff, Doug Anderson and others through the summer. Contact Chicago Architecture Foundation (meet on site- small charge), Chicago History Museum, Department of Cultural Affairs (bus tours from Chicago Cultural Center).
Resources, tours, meetings, lectures and opportunities
Continuing through Sept. 7 2014- Opening the Vaults- The World's Columbian Exposition. Field Museum, Roosevelt Road and Lake Shore Drive.
Among regular tours is that Saturdays at 11 summer 2014 through October 27 by Friends of the White City and Jackson Park Advisory Council. Details and updates in http://www.friendsofthewhitecity.org or visit email@example.com. Meets at the west end of the lot south of MSI pond, lot accessed off 5800 S. Lake Shore Drive exit.
MSI Tours of the White City-Then and Now. Virtual simulation inside, then tour outside (unless weather forbids). $30, $35 +Museum admission required. At 1 pm year round. Sats 9/13, 10/25, 11/8, 12/6. Sundays 8/24, 9/28, 11/23, 12/21. msichicago.org. Tickets 663 684-1414.
Field Museum-Chicago Architecture Foundation tours of the 1893 fair site in Jackson Park (featuring MSI, Wooded Island, and Golden Lady). Price $42-$48 includes admission to "Opening the Vaults- Wonders of the 1893 World's Fair." These bus tours from Field Museum run Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Visit http://www.architecture.org or http://www.fieldmuseum.org for information or tickets. Through ?
THANKS TO FRIENDS OF THE VIKING SHIP (Lorraine Straw) (http://www.vikingship.us) and Raymond Johnson of FRIENDS OF THE WHITE CITY (http://www.friendsofthewhitecity.org) FOR SPLENDED ILLUSTRATED TALKS ON THE FAIR MARCH 10 Jackson Park Advisory Council meeting with Montgomery Place Retirement Community.
Michal Safar, Hyde Park Historical Society Archivist, replied to Mr. Cook and my question about the gigantic Spectatorium that was under construction at the edge of the Columbian Exposition, where among others Montgomery Place stands today:
"Lisa Snyder, who has been working on the simulation of the WCE, has recently added a sequence showing the Spectorium. The video is just under 9 minutes. It takes you through a tour of the WCE and ends up at the Spectatorium. It shows what the unfinished building actually looked like and then shows what it would have looked like finished."
Ms. Snyder's virtual simulation of the Columbian Expo, as regularly revised, has been brought at least 3 times to the Museum of Science and Industry and is well worth going to see.
Here is the link to a low resolution version.
If you want to see it in high resolution (provided your memory will allow it and you have several minutes patience) go to www.ust.ucla/edu/ustweb/Projects/Columbian_Expo/ust/WCE_Spec_wmv.
Join Hyde Park Historical Society and ask for the summer 2010 issue of Hyde Park History, a recap of the July 17 2010 talk by Caroline Johnson on the peoples brought to the Midway and the music they brought and was recorded.
Contact a new organization on the Fair- Friends of the White City, led by Raymond Johnson, which gives occasional tours in Jackson Park.- FriendsoftheWhiteCity@gmail.com. http://www.friendsofthewhitecity.org.
2009 Dedication of was held for a commemorative marker to Frederick Douglass.
Honoring his speech at the opening of the Haitian Pavilion and his service as
Minister for Haiti at the Exposition.
The commemorative Chronicle publication on the May 15 2009 dedication of the Frederick Douglass monument in Jackson Park. View in pdf (caution- 9.5 MB). This includes good, clear vintage maps and drawings making the locations of buildings clear as well as rare or unique materials.
Where: Jackson Park, South of the Bowling Green
Exit S. Lake Shore Drive at the Science Drive signal, 5800 South. Park southeast of the Museum
and walk southeast past the bowling green toward the boat basin.
Why: To honor the contributions of Frederick Douglass, former slave and abolitionist. As Minister in charge of the Haitian Pavilion at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition, he celebrated Haitian Independence Day and the completion of the Fair’s first pavilion on this site.
• JROTC Honor Guard, School of Leadership/ South Shore Campus
• Father Carl Markelz, Principal, Mt. Carmel High School
• William Tillis, Park Supervisor
• Leslie A. Hairston, Alderman 5th Ward
• Dr. Christopher Reed Ph.D., Prof. Emeritus History Roosevelt University
• Frances Vandervoort, Vice President, Jackson Park Advisory Council, on intersects and differences between the two Fredricks (Douglass and Olmsted)
• Monica Vela, M.D., Assistant Professor, Assoc. Vice-Chair for Diversity, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago
• John Tredon, Violinist
• Hooked On Drums-Youth African Drumming Ensemble (cancelled due to weather)
Free and open to the public.
More on Douglass: Autobiography The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, is available at: http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/dougl92/menu.html. In this site: the Frederick Douglass Marker page. See also Christopher Reed, The Whole World Came: African Americans and the Columbian Exposition.
An outstanding starter: A Commercially released DVD documentary (which modestly bills itself as entertainment and narrative, but is a rich documentary) on the Fair is called Expo--Magic of the White City. It's a 2005 PBS release narrated by Gene Wilder. Contact at www.ColumbianExpo.com. It makes a valiant effort to do justice to an event and age that should be called "Giant"(as in, often, "Excess") and to be three dimensional. You will see more behind-the-scenes realities and what the visitors really flocked to, as well as Fair superlatives, than visitors could possibly have seen if they went there every day for weeks. Excellent for viewing with the whole family, although it makes reference to the seamier side of life and of course the assassination of Mayor Harrison is there. It also deals, although unevenly, with the controversies and exclusions and urban context well as the triumphs of the Fair. (This reviewer did not find any clear errors.) Much was developed from photos, which one would have to do an awful lot of searching to assemble. Scenes were also shot on location in the park. Director Mark was Bussler for Inecom Entertainment Company. You can get it at the PBS catalogue. 116 minutes. To more online resources.
short introduction with lots of top-rate pictures by Joseph DiCola and David
Stone was published in 2012 as part of the Arcadia series, Images of America:
Chicago's 1893 World's Fair.
Stone is also author of Chicago's Classical Architecture: The Legacy of the White City.
See also Neil Harris
et al, Grand Illusions: Chicago's World's Fair of 1893 (Chicago
Historical Society, 1993)
Looking for people who might have worked at or been involved with the Expostion?
There is no list of laborers. But, there is a substantial documentary record of the Fair construction in a variety of sources, likely some record in the archives of the world's Columbian Exposition Company.
Contact the Chicago History Museum: either a perusal of their online catalog (http://www.chsmedia.org:8081/) or a visit to their helpful Research Center staff. Of course, there are numerous other archives, both in Chicago and elsewhere, that have WCE materials that may include this information.
Harlow Higinbotham's report to the Board of the WCE is fully digitized and is available online at : http://archive.org/details/reportpresident01higigoog and it gives an overview of the undertaking, including what keywords to search.
Visit the Art Institute of Chicago, inside the Asian-Japan exhibits on the first floor. Two recovered and restored decorated panels of the Hoh-o-den Japanese pavilion that stood on Wooded Island during and for a half-century after the fair are now on display, as of August 2011.
A useful older site (1996)- http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA96/WCE/title.html.
of C Regenstein Library Maps Collection has recently digitalized a group of
Chicago maps printed between 1900 and 1914 and are available at www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/su/maps/chi1900.
Pics, for example on the Ferris Wheel: http://photofiles.lib.uchicago.edu/.
See also http://ecuip.lib.uchicago.edu/diglib/social/worldsfair_1893/index.html. (This was done for schools.)
In addition the Hyde Park Historical Society's digitized archive finding aid online from Regenstein has materials-- links are in At The Society page.
And http://ecuip.lib.uchicago.edu/diglib/social/worldsfair_1893/index.html Note, the part called "Reconstructing the World's Fair" is closed to general readership. Thanks to Jay Mulberry for this recommendation.
See also from Illinois Institute of Technology including the official 1893 Book of the Fair full of pics and info: http://www.columbus.iit.edu/bookfair/bftoc.html. And http://columbus.gl.iit.edu.
More info on the Ferris Wheel in: http://www.hydeparkhistory.org/newsletter.html.
Several books from the Fair and its era and later are available in libraries including that of the Hyde Park Historical Society (non-lending), open Saturdays and Sundays 2-4 pm at 5529 S. Lake Park Avenue. The Society's archives also have material remains, most in Regenstein Special Collections at U of C.
The most recent survey
book (with an autographed copy at the Hyde Park Historical Society), is Chaim
M. Rosenberg's America at the Fair- Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.
2008, Arcadia, Charleston SC and Chicago.
Much material and artifacts are scattered wide--a large collection that may not be readily available is the Fung collection acquired by Museum of Science and Industry in 1992 (there is much else at the Museum), University of Chicago Library Special Collections, Chicago Historical Society, and all over--don't neglect places in Wisconsin.
Novels from the time (Hamlin Garland) to today and scholarly and popular (or both) books on an aspect in context, such as Erik Larson's Devil in the White City and even interactive video games give much insight into the Fair, although not everything in any can be fully vouched for. This writer cautions students especially to read a broad-scoped source then narrow the focus fast--both the story of the Fair and its connections and implications are vast subjects!! And, of course, the fair was full of superlatives (the 1,600-foot-long Manufactures and Liberal Arts building was at the time the world's largest, the Ferris Wheel perhaps the world's tallest structure) and innovations. And don't forget that much, including huge symposiums, took place off-site, especially at the future Art Institute of Chicago, downtown. Little known is that Washington Park was extensively reworked with new features to interest overflow crowds.
The works of Roosevelt University historian Christopher Reid show that it is not true that African Americans were not at the Fair, including in some major positions as well as down to the preparers and caretakers. They also took part in important forums at the Fair. And Frederick Douglass lectured and answered questions at the Haiti Pavilion--in fact, his was the first address at the Fair, before a crowd of dignitaries before the Fair opened.
A book that overturns blanket assertions about exclusion and about how it was dealt with by African Americans is Christopher Reed's "All the World is Here," The Black Presence at the White City. (See also his Black Chicago's First Century.) More below.
Hyde Park Historical Society's Hyde Park History in 1994 issued an article on Chicago Day at the Fair (limited supply). Later at least two issues dealt with the great Ferris Wheel (and discovery of its foundations during construction of a skating rink), and on the Iowa Exposition Building and Granite Paved Beach--including a brilliant deduction that links the building and shoreline. Most of the Fair material is on line in www.hydeparkhistory.org.
Tours are offered monthly by the Chicago Architecture Foundation May through October. Private tours are also given for book clubs, out-of-town touring groups, et al. One of the docents is renowned Doug Anderson.
(Photography of the Fair was at least supposed to be a monopoly--maybe, besides being a lucrative monopoly, partly because private pictures revealed the messy side- we think littering is new?)
An important print source is the Dover/Appelbaum 1893 Columbian Exposition.
the next return of the ever-growing Columbian Exposition Simulation to Museum
of Science and Industry. The most recent in December 2008 was sponsored by the
Chicago Dept. of Cultural Affairs Sister Cities program.
you are looking for maps and material on line about the 1893 World's
Columbian Exposition, the best is probably the following, but note
that it is read-only (copyrighted), may take a couple tries to come up, and
loads very slowly, especially the map (which is well worth it). http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/ecuip//diglib/social/worldsfair_1893/index.html
The University of Chicago's Digital Internet Library Project (CUIP) is an increasingly important source and has archived material including Jean Block's Hyde Park Houses, lots of photo docs and other material on the World's Fair.
Visit also http://www.friendsofthewhitecity.org.
U of C Regenstein Library Maps Collection has recently digitalized a group of Chicago maps printed between 1900 and 1914 and are available at www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/su/maps/chi1900.
tour, World's Columbian Exposition: Idea, Experience, Aftermath: xroad.virginia.edu/~MA96/WCE/title.html
The University of Chicago's Digital Internet Library Project (CUIP) is an increasingly important source and has archived material including Hyde Park Houses and pictures and other material on the World's Fair. See also the Illinois Institute of Technology site.
Lisa Snyder's simulation tour (shown annually at Museum of Science and Industry, with changes each year- http://www.ust.ucla.edu/ustweb/Projects/columbian_expo.htm.
And there is much information in Susan O'Connor Davis' Chicago's Historic Hyde Park (2013).
Field Museum has put up simulated moving pictures as part of its "Opening the Vaults- The World's Fair" (2013-14)
See the city's Dept. of Transportation Lake Shore Drive history page.
Peter Nepstad's digital game, 1893 based at the Explosion can be explored, ordered via www.illuminatedlantern.com. (We cannot vouch for the experience or friendliness of games and sites.)
A Commercially released DVD documentary (which modestly bills itself as entertainment and narrative, but is a rich documentary ) on the Fair is called Expo--Magic of the White City. It's a 2005 PBS release narrated by Gene Wilder. Contact at www.ColumbianExpo.com. It makes a valiant effort to do justice to an event and age that should be called "Giant" and to be three dimensional. You will see more behind-the-scenes as well as Fair superlatives than visitors could possibly have seen if they went there every day for weeks. Excellent for viewing with the whole family, although it makes reference to the seamier side of life and of course the assassination of Mayor Harrison is there. It also deals, although unevenly, with the controversies and exclusions and urban context well as the triumphs of the Fair. (This reviewer did not find any clear errors.) Much was developed from photos, which one would have to do an awful lot of searching to assemble. Scenes were also shot on location in the park. Director Mark was Bussler for Inecom Entertainment Company. You can get it at the PBS catalogue. 116 minutes.
Herald, December 7, 2011
The Museum of Science and Industry recently completed a critcal masonry restoration project on its historic 1893 building with the help of a $400,000 grant from the Department of Interior; the National Park Service, through the Save America's Treasures (AAT) grant program [and] from President Barack Obama's Committee on the Arts and Humanities. "We are very grateful for this generous SAT grant, which has helped the Museum to continue the good stewardship of its beautiful and historic building," said Ed McDonald, the museum's director of facilities.
The museum was the only organization in Illinois, and one of 41 across the country, to receive an SAT grant in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. With these grant funds, which totaled $9.5 million, organizations and agencies are able to preserve the structures, places, documents, artistic works and artifacts that are deemed of significance to the nation.
The Museum of Science and Industry's building is the former Palace of Fine Arts from teh 1893 Worlds' Columbian Exposition. It is the only building left standing from the fairs' "White City" and is included within the Jackson Park and Midway Plaisance Historic Landmark District.
Protecting it for the enrichment of future generations is a top priority for the Museum, and MSI matched the grant funds to make the necessary repairs to the building's exterior masonry, which had suffered from deterioration due to Chicago's extreme weather. The areas of the musuem's highly decorative East and West Pavilions that were most exposed and had been the most affected include the carved limestone, cast stone and terra cotta elements at the East and West Pavilion dome drums and the marble panels replicated from the Parthenon in Athens.
Midway Plaisance diorama featured in June 12 2010 HPHS program on Metro History Fair winners
History Fair winners presented June 12 2010 at HPHS hq, 5529 S. Lake Park. It was breathtaking.
Herald, June 9, 2010
The Hyde Park Historical society is celebrating the efforts of two teams of high school students whose award-winning entries to the Chicag Metro History Fair centered around Hyde Park subjects. This Sunday, June 12, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., a panel led by Jay Mulberry, former president of the historical society [and retired history teacher and principal[, and Stacy Stewart, a Chicago Public Schools history teacher, whose students' project led to the landmarking of the Carl Hansberry House by the Chicago City Council, will feature the two projects. "Midway Plaisance," a diorama of teh 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, was created by students from Maine South High School in Park Ridge, Ill. "Urban Renewal in Hyde Park/Kenwood Neighborhood" is a documentary created by Hyde Park students who attend Lincoln Park High School. The diorama will be on display and the documentary will be shown.
Historical society board member and program committee co-chair Kathy Huff, who oversees the selection of the Metro History entries for the society, said she was looking forward to viewing the documentary and was blown away by the diorama. "The diorama is something to behold," she said, adding that the projects are in keeping with the mission of the awards. "We give an award every year for the best two projects that exemplify Hyde Park Township," Huff said.
Alyssa Niese, one of the three members of the Maine South High School team, said the details of the built environment at the Midway Plaisance during the Columbian Exposition drew them in. "We decided we wanted to do something really fun and very people oriented and that's how we came to decide on the Plaisance. It was fascinating to read about and incredibly intricate and very interesting," Niese said.
Allison Byrne said learning about the meaning of the Explosion reinforced their original idea that "it would be a cool idea to create a model." "It was an innovation in the way that people learned. Instead of learning from a classroom or some teacher they could actually learn by seeing. So we thought that if we were going to do a project on the Midway Plaisance, that it would be appropriate to incorporate that idea of learning by seeing," Byrne said.
Alyssa's sister Samantha, the third and final member of the group, said the chance to take the project to state was an exciting -- and unexpected -- experience. "We're really excited about it -- it's just been a whirlwind," Niese said. "We were told that models like ours never moved... out of high school [competitions]. Moving on to state was such and amazing experience."
The event takes place at the Hyde Park Historical Society, 5529 S. Lake Park Ave. For more information, visit hydeparkhistory.org.
Digging for the past in Jackson Park
The excavation occurred in 2007 at several locations in the park. Most recent focus is between Cornell drive and the southwest corner of the Museum of Science and Industry and the Columbia Basin, where Midwestern state pavilions of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin were sited.
From Chicago Weekly News coverage of Rebecca Graff's first interpretive talk (with wonderful pictures) at a packed Hyde Park Historical Society headquarters January 22, 2011.
The ceiling rumbled over a packed audience as a train ran on the Metra line over Lake Park Avenue. Those who hadn’t ducked in from the bitter January cold early enough to grab a seat were squeezed along the walls of the smart little brick building by the tracks that now serves as the Hyde Park Historical Society’s (HPHS) headquarters. Old and young alike filled the audience, with longstanding Hyde Park community members sitting side-by-side with sixth-graders Marley and Zavier, who were working on their History Fair project for Ogden Elementary.
Four decades ago, the crowd could have come here for a tasty afternoon special at Steve’s Lunch—the last of the lunchroom businesses that occupied the space from 1898 on. Before that, the building served as the ticket counter and waiting room for cable cars servicing the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. While more than a century removed from that peak of Chicago’s cultural legacy, all who gathered last Saturday arrived under the spell of the 1893 Exposition, and the building was transformed once again into a waiting room for the event. University of Chicago doctoral candidate in anthropology Rebecca Graff led a dig in 2008 excavating the backyard bones of the World’s Fair in Jackson Park, and Saturday was her chance to showcase the loot.
The highlights of the dig included the Ho-o-den, the Japanese pavilion built during the Exposition, and the Ohio State Building, which was uncovered in the parking lot outside of the Museum of Science and Industry. Many of her most significant discoveries were small trinkets—jewelry straight out of an old issue of the Sears Roebuck catalog, glass bottle-stoppers, and plaster urns and terra-cotta tiles that matched surviving photos. However, bigger things may still remain hidden. As Rebecca was adamant to point out, “We were only able to cover a small part of all 700 acres of the Fair.”
Throughout the lecture, Graff found herself peppered with questions from the audience, who weren’t too shy to ask about the exact location of excavation sites, the dig process, the artifacts found, or the Fair itself. The only question Graff had difficulty responding to was simply: “Are you coming back to dig in the future?” With local interest as expansive as the fairgrounds still unexcavated, it’s clear what the answer ought to be. (Bonnie Fan)
From Jackson Park Newsletter February 2011
Rebecca Graff, graduate doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago, described to a packed hall January 22 at the Hyde Park Historical Society headquarters the 2007 excavation the class she led conducted on Wooded Island and southwest of the Museum of Science and Industry. Test sampling led to thorough excavation of square trenches at the site of the former Japanese pavilion on Wooded Island and the vicinity of the Ohio pavilion near the Columbia Basin and Cornell Drive. The research, and the talk and its stunning visuals revealed much about the infrastructure of as well as what gets left where, and how at such intentionally-temporary huge construction and removal projects as world fairs. Other such sites worldwide hold promise for significant finds—what’s supposedly “gone” may not be!
Here is a short take from a much broader article in the May 23 2008 Maroon, by Marshall Knudson.
On the U of C's official website, between the obligatory Argonne Laboratory update an.. ode of acclaim to the new Temple of Milton Friedman, I was surprised to find an article digging in the dirt. Yes-- the University news feed cooked up a really sweet review of the ongoing archaeological dig in Jackson Park by anthropology graduate student Rebecca Graff and her novice team of college students. Graff and her comrades are uncovering bits and pieces of the 1893 World's Fair, which shocked and awed visitors and residents alike even as the U of C first staked claim to Hyde Park. All we have left today are the sunken green tracks guarded by Mazaryk that we call the Midway Plaisance and the Museum of Science and Industry, which continues to shock and awe sizable crowds, as with the recent "Bodies" exhibit.
For all the studying that contributes to Chicago's curious distinction as "the world's most studied city," this is the first time we've take a look at our backyard and decided to get our hands dirty. By all accounts, the Columbian Exposition was a big deal. It was proof to the world that the nitty-gritty city had coughed up the ashes of the Great Fire and blossomed forth a new beacon of civilization. Call it a moment of collective self-representation --a one-of-a-kind event to beef up the city's merits and play down its faults.
In late 2006 the Jackson Park Advisory Council heard from Rebecca Graff on her urban archeological digs in conjunction with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and of proposals to dig in Jackson Park, particularly Wooded Island--and dig seriously, not by accident as with the Germania finds in the southeast part of the park. After questions were answered, the council voted its support and asked her to return with a full description of what, where, how extensive and how long the dig would be. The support was clarified and confirmed at the January 8 meeting. Here is more information as provided in part of the Hyde Park Herald article, February 7, 2007. (By Daniel J. Yovich)
Rebecca Graff digs history, and the University of Chicago anthropology graduate student hopes to find historical remnants from the World's Columbia[n] Exposition in Jackson Park.
Graff said she is reluctant to detail her project because her proposal for a limited excavation of he are sis now under review by the Chicago Park District. However, at the Jan. 8 Jackson Park Advisory Council meting, the organization voted to support Graff's proposed urban anthropological excavation, which she hopes will shed some light on the life and times of those who visited and built the 1893 World's Fair and the years thereafter.
Graff has a personal connection with the project. The first job her immigrant great-grandfather had when he arrived from Russia in 1892 was as a laborer helping to build the complex and surrounding landscape for the fair.
"If we get permission for this project, we would hope to find some artifacts that can shed further light on how people lived at that time," Graff said. Graff, who has done similar research in other cities as part of her education, hopes to seek help for the project from local high schools. "This can be a great learning experience and ideally, if we get permission and if the timing of this works out, I'd love to partner with the local public schools, Graff said.
Article on the digs in progress from the May 18 2008 Chicago Tribune, by William Mullen
Urban 'Indiana Jones' seek traces of 1893 World's Fair. U. of C. students are digging in Jackson Park in attempt to unearth evidence of World's Columbian Exposition. Finding broke crockery, nails, pieces of glass bottles, gravel and metallic slag.
Rightly famous for more than a century of archeological excavations in the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Latin America, the University of Chicago lately has been working just around the corner and down the street on a dig in Jackson Park.
Among the treasures unearthed by archeologist Rebecca Graff and some of her students are rusty nails, broken crockery, pieces of glass bottles, clumps of gravel and metallic slag, now all neatly labeled in kitchen storage bags.
Graff is thrilled with what she and her crew of 20 undergraduates have been pulling out of the park during their Friday and Saturday all-day digs. If she is right, much if not most of it is from the grounds of the World's Columbian Exposition, the fabled World's Fair that for six months in 1893 made Chicago the center of the world.
The stunning White City, with its enormous, classical exposition buildings sculpted from plaster of Paris along elegant, landscaped canals, plus a remarkable assemblage of rides, restaurants and attractions from around the world along a commercial strip called the Midway, attracted 27 million visitors.
Only one permanent exposition hall was built for the fair, the Palace of Fine Arts, which now houses the Museum of Science and Industry. almost all of the rest was gone within moths of the fairs's closing, having been torn down and carted off.
Still, "not everything went," said Graff, 31, a PhD candidate and anthropology instructor whose crew has been digging since April. "We're interested in seeing what is left of the buildings themselves. I am interested in the experience of the tourists. What were they buying, eating and drinking at the fair?"
The project is the U. of C.'s first stab at using the city itself as an urban archeology laboratory, a means of delving into the city's history and a way to give students hands-on experience with conducting scientific excavations. It is closely allied with a similar program conducted by DePaul University the last few years, which has active excavations in the Bronzeville neighborhood and the Pullman community.
Graff selected four areas in the old 633-acre fairground site to excavate. Thus far she has concentrated most of her effort on a strip just south of the Museum of Science and Industry along Cornell Drive, where th state pavilions for Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Indiana stood during the fair.
She and her undergraduate students and three teaching assistants have opened four holes so far, each 2 meters (6.5 feet) square and just 3 feet deep, which takes them to a layer of sand dunes and marsh that were there before European settlement.
"It's not like a deep, deep tell in Israel, where your excavations go down through thousands of years of occupation in a single settlement site," she said. "Instead, we are looking at an immense area that was used by 27 million people, but for just six months in 1893.
In the upper few inches they found plenty of detritus left behind by litterbugs who used the park in the late 20th Century, particularly pull-top tabs from aluminum beer and soft-drink cans. "These things mystified some of the students who had no clue what they were," said Graff. "They grew up after the can industry stopped that sort of litter by introducing the flip-top lids that stay attached to the can."
In each of the excavations they have encountered old pipe Graff believes was part of the fair infrastructure for water and sewage, though she said she has to do more research to confirm that. In one area they found a straight, broad strip of dark soil in sand that she said may mark the foundation line of one of the state pavilions.
"We have the original blueprints of the fair," she said, "but as it was built, those plans were often altered at the last minute so that buildings were put up in slightly different areas, and our work can now locate them exactly.
She and her students are beginning to consult with expert and look at old photos to try to research the hundreds of ceramics and glass pieces they are finding. "We have to try to track the sherds down to recognizable objects, like the whole bottle the broken part came from," Graff said, "seeing if we can determine what they contained and who the bottlers were.
"We know which vendors had official sanctions to sell their goods on the fairgrounds. This was an event that introduced to the world many long-standing products, like Wrigley Juicy Fruit chewing gum, Aunt Jemima pancakes,Vienna hot dogs, Cracker Jack. But we know peddlers were also sneaking their goods into the fairgrounds all the time, and maybe we will see some of those things too."
A Los Angeles native, Graff said she knew virtually nothing about the fair when she enrolled in grad school here in 1999. When her research interest zeroed in on th fair, her family told her that one of her great-grandfathers, Russian Jewish immigrant Morris Graff, got his first steady work in America as a ditch digger on the exposition grounds. "It has made me feel more connected to the exposition," she said.
The three other sites are near the fair's Women's Building, at the garbage crematory where fair workers daily burned trash and on the site of the Ho-o-den Japanese Palace that stood on Wooded Island until it burned down in 1946.
"The exposition site is so larger and extensive, I'd like to see us working there for a long time, as long as possible," said Shannon Dawdy, Graff's doctoral advisor. Dawdy is a University of Chicago assistant professor of anthropology and one o the founders of its urban archeology project. when she came to Chicago years ago, Dawdy said she was surprised to find nobody in Chicago was doing archeology within the city.
"My own background is urban archeology in New Orleans, with projects that had a large public outreach component," she said. "The desire to preserve the past is not strong here. Our excavation of the fairground is the first project under a pilot program to train students, using the city as laboratory and an archeological site."
And from the Herald, May 28 2008: U. of C. students dig into park's past. By Sam Cholke
University of Chicago College graduate student Elise MacArthur and third-year college student Becca Hall look for artifacts as they sift through soil excavated from a pit at the site of Columbian Exposition;s Indiana Building near the Museum of Science and Industry in Jackson Park.
Students from the University of Chicago stood chest-deep in holes in Jackson Pak May 17 staring at what they had found. "We found another pipe," said one of the 20 students who have been participating in the first archeological dig of the site of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.
The students in Rebecca Graff's urban archeology class in the Chicago Studies Program didn't discover any lost civilizations, but they did find remnants of the expositions's gas and sewer system. "The city has no record of them, probably further evidence that it was part of the Columbian Exposition and not part of the park," said Megan Edwards, a teaching assistant for the class.
At two of the three sites the students dug, they found cast-iron pipes that ran along cardinal directions. The pipes were a mystery -- they could have been for natural gas or water, students speculated. As three students at Edwards' site dug beyond the iron pipe deeper into the wet sand that serves as the bedrock for much of the park, they hit a ceramic pipe three-times the diameter of the iron pipe.
Word spread quickly amongst the three pits that the possibility of a system of gas pipes in the park could be only the top layer of a system of gas and sewer pipes tracing though where the buildings celebrating the history of Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio stood during the fair.
The students have been slowly boring down through the layers of Jackson Park every since the ground was warm and pliable enough to get through this spring. "All the topsoil was removed for the Columbian Exposition and returned afterwards, so a lot of this may have made a trip across the city and back," Edwards said.
Under the topsoil, the class hit a layer of metal-rich rocks. Some of this was probably scraps from iron smelting in Indiana used to shore up the foundations of the building, Edwards speculated. At another site, a different metal ore turned up. Mary Leighton, another teaching assistant for the class, said that metal is slag, possibly formed when components of the building fused when arsonists burned them down.
Graff said her students have been surprisingly enthusiastic about digging around in the dirt during what has proved to be a wet and cold spring. Graff is a graduate student specializing in American urban archeology who is writing her dissertation on 19th century American habits of tourism and consumerism based on the columbian exposition.
Other artifacts discovered--like nails, remnants of glass bottles and the mouthpiece of clay pipe--have been taken to a laboratory at the university where other students will research and catalog them.
And some added facts from the Maroon article of May 30, 2008
The purpose of the class is as much to teach methods as to map humans and structures on the grounds of the fair and find how visitors lived and behaved. They collect everything from any time. But are especially interested in dynamics and dimensions, including the fair as a stage--including for introduction of products and innovations. Paperwork and mapping include each participant's final assignment, research on an artifact of choice.
Friends of the Parks with others, 1986. Heavy green lines are an overlay of modern (1985) roadways; light green are, and modern shorelines (Lake, harbor/inlets, lagoons although not at maximum extent, and Museum of Science and Industry ). Lines are somewhat displaced
by Gary Ossewaarde for the JPAC Newsletter, modified
This hemisphere and Jackson Park would have been found by peoples from the Old World without Christopher Columbus, but the park would have been quite different without a Columbus connection. Park and surrounding neighborhood development were moving along slowly until coming-of-age Chicago and its movers pushed for the right to host the celebration of the fourth centenary of Columbus’ New World landing. The directorate of city and local business, civic, and landowning leaders (including Hyde Park founder Paul Cornell) sited the Columbian Exposition in largely undeveloped Jackson Park and the Midway and entrusted execution to Daniel Burnham’s and Frederick Law Olmsted’s team. The area filled up as thousands came to prepare the swamp-and-swale ground, build the Fair, build housing for the visitors and serve the same. The world’s peoples brought arts, sciences, engineering wonders—even 'contraries to the established story'-Norse, Native American...
The Fair, and the new, adjacent University of Chicago, gave as much to the character of the park as did Olmsted’s original vision and design. His firm redesigned the park after the Fair, but elements are descended from the Fair, including lagoons and basins and the great museum. Of course, many features remained or are descended from pre-Fair, even pre-settlement times, including hundreds-years-old oak stands. And--as originally inspired Olmsted--Jackson remains a diversified, emergent-edge environment, not quite sure whether it belongs to lake and shore, prairie, or savanna.
But the Exposition honoring Columbus came at a cusp in developmental stages of Chicago, U.S., the park and its neighborhoods, and a world evolving into globalization. The Village came here!-exclusions and flaws and all. It drew a phenomenal proportion of Americans to the Chicago Summer. The Fair in turn left indelible marks on the psyche and on architecture. Take the time to read some of the books about the extraordinary complexities, triumphs and tragedies and the stories centered or reflected at the Fair. And watch for tours of the Fair footprint —with added docents for the many who come to Jackson Park to recall that formative moment.
A mystery from the Fair, passed on by Melissa Cook. If you can help, contact this site and we'll pass it along. firstname.lastname@example.org.
I received a copy of an email that originated from Luke Van Belleghem of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, seeking ideas for the "History Detectives" program.
I live in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, site of the 1893 Columbian Exposition, Robie House, the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction, to name a few.
In researching the 1893 Columbian Exposition, I was fascinated by the mystery of the disappearance of the "Columbian Liberty Bell," a 13,000 bell created by Meneely in Troy, NY and intended to travel the world as a symbol of peace and freedom. It was created from metal objects collected from around the country, including objects connected to famous people in American history, from George Washington to Jefferson Davis. Various books from the Columbian Exposition era mention or picture the bell, and various websites tell pieces of the story. (I've list a few of them at the end of this email.)
Don't know if this is the type of thing you're looking for, but I for one would love for some detectives to solve the mystery of how a 13,000 pound bell could disappear within a couple years of its creation!
And here may be part of the answer!
Hello! Bonnie Tipton Long, here. Listen, I ran a 6-week program for After School Matters this summer based on the Devil in the White City book. The kids went all over Chicago looking for whatever they could find left over from the White City and put together an exhibit based on those findings. We decided to see what we could find out about the Columbian Bell. They turned up its origins and early history at the Harold Washington Archives.
As you probably know, it was smelted out of melted down metal items from previous military actions involving several wars--buttons, keys, swords, etc. The project was a vision of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the bell was supposed to travel the U.S. after the Fair and the bell was supposed to ring in every major city. However, there was very little enthusiasm for the bell at the actual fair, so the plans became less involved. The bell eventually went to Europe, where it disappeared.
We contacted the DAR, specifically their archivist, Alisa Johnson. She found an article in the DAR magazine that dated from the 1940's. In that article, there is mentioned an unsigned letter in which someone claims that the bell was held up in Russia in 1905 by the Tzarist government awaiting tariffs, I believe somewhere around 1900. This same individual claims that the bell was still there during the Revolution and was melted down by the Bolsheviks to be used for weapons.
I don't know if this helps in anyway, but we sure enjoyed finding out about it.
Bonnie Tipton Long
North Lakeside Cultural Center
6219 N. Sheridan Rd.
Chicago, IL 60660
Jack Ferry gave additional information in an e-mail September 2010. This is here condensed and elaborated.
The bell's post-Fair journey started as a rail progress starting September 15, 1895 on the Illinois Central through Illinois and border state towns (on other railroads) where it was honored (in much the same way as many may recall the 1940s and 50's Freedom Trains with the real Liberty Bell). The bell then was installed for the duration of the important International and Cotton States Expostion in Atlanta. Thereafter, it toured Mexico then England-- sounding first at Runnymede, where Magna Carte was signed.
In the original 1871 plan for the park, the lagoons, suggested by the original sand-swale-wale and-marsh landscape, were intended by Olmsted to form part of a progression from Lake Michigan through a semi-wild wetland of "awe" and "grandeur" into a grand canal (Midway) and into the lagoons of the rural-respite Washington Park.
Lagoons were proposed by Olmsted and Daniel Burnham for the Fair- and are not that far removed from their modern shape (now very much reduced). The Lagoons surrounded the Wooded Island (largely an original swale cut(knocked down-spread out and actually originally a peninsula, not island) to make an island and with its shores reshaped), which served as a respite for fairgoers and housed a wonderful Japanese pavilion (placed there against Olmsted’s wishes). The bridge that linked the north end of the newly islanded peninsula was located eastward of the present bridge.
F. L. Olmsted found Jackson Park a rather desolate stretch of lake embankments, sand ridges and watery swales that averaged a foot below the level of the lake. Olmsted scraped down ridges, brought in a layer of manure from the Union Stock Yards, 200,000 cubic yards of dirt (together accounting for the later growth of plants and trees in the formerly impoverished sand), and planted hundreds of thousands of trees, shrubs, low plants, and aquatic plants, many on Wooded Island. Olmsted and the Fair designers respected the scattered stands of stunted ancient oaks and other trees (including southeast of the Columbia Basin), keeping the buildings away from these stands where possible, while bringing in many new species of trees, including black willows, to stabilize the edge of Wooded Island and other lagoon shores. Until that time, The Island was a peninsular sand ridge with an oak savannah. Olmsted intended the Island to be a quiet nature respite, but Daniel Burnham agreed to allow the Japanese government to build at its expense a Phoenix temple (Ho-o-den) based on that outside Osaka representing 3 stages in Japanese architecture, and a small Japanese garden.
Olmsted planted a distinctive palette of aquatic and shore plants in the lagoons, including lily pads and cattails, and created a grand vista graced with willows when one looked from the north bridge south of the Palace of Fine Arts. Olmsted's idea from the start was that boaters would progress from the Lake and harbors (and you could until the 1950's) through the wild splendor of the lagoons and down the (never realized) Venetian canal in Midway Plaisance to Washington Park’s lagoons and pastoral Great Meadow. Ice skating was envisioned also, and continued for decades later on extant water, boat houses serving as warming stations in the winter. Olmsted’s sons redesigned the lagoons in the decade after the Fair.
February 2006. It is largely pictorial, but should be a good addition!
I am happy to announce that my book, "Chicago's Classical Architecture: The Legacy of the White City," is now available for sale. For those of you in the Chicago area, it is in all major bookstores and many other outlets, and anyone can buy it from my web site, www.ChicagoArch.net. There is also more information on the book, including some sample photos and text, on the web site.
Touring Chicago's famed
Columbian Exposition simulation almost like being there in 1893
By William Mullen
Tribune staff reporter
Published June 28, 2005
For anyone who has pined away in wishful reverie over photos of the White City pavilions lining canals of Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exhibition, on Tuesday UCLA architectural historian Lisa Snyder is offering the next best thing to a walk through the fairgrounds in all its glory.
Snyder, 43, is a senior member of UCLA's Urban Simulation Team, a group that builds virtual-reality models of cities that digitally recreate every structure in an urban area for use in planning. The simulations, accurate down to graffiti on the walls, allow planners using computers to amble back and forth through streets and alleys, tearing down and altering old buildings and trying out new buildings in old settings.
She hit on the idea of recreating the Columbian Exposition to demonstrate the power of the technology as a teaching aid. Snyder chose the event because of its beauty and the public's continuing fascination with it, and because she could work off readily available architectural site maps and building blueprints in her computer reconstruction of the fair.
"I'm about 25 percent done with the project," Snyder said Monday as she projected stunning streetscapes of the fair on a theater screen in the Museum of Science and Industry's west pavilion. She did six free demonstrations of the virtual tour of the fair Monday and will do six more Tuesday at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. (THESE EVENTS HAVE PASSED.)
"The technology is spectacular," Snyder said at the museum, the only fair building that was left standing. "For me, as an architectural historian, I've gotten interested in it as a teaching tool, as a way to take people through ancient sites or to teach people how to understand urban spaces."
What Snyder has finished recreating so far is the heart of the vast fairgrounds, the great classical Greek and Roman exposition halls that surrounded the fair's waterways, the Grand Basin and canal system.
The real-time visual simulation technology allows viewers to see the gleaming buildings as if they were strolling in front of them along the fair's broad promenades or gliding past them in electric boat launches or gondolas along the canals. The buildings' ornate architectural details are reproduced almost with photographic accuracy, because Snyder and her colleagues have been working off architectural drawings and actual photographs.
For students of architecture, she makes a single computer mouse click and makes the facade of the fair's largest structure, the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building, disappear, leaving only the soaring steel frame around which it was built.
"At the time, it was the largest building in the world," she said. "The space inside was high enough to accommodate an 18-story building. The boast was that it was big enough to hold both St. Peter's Basilica and the pyramids of Giza."
For now, she has finished, but she is still refining her rendition of most of the major exhibition halls and grounds around them. She also has recreated the great Ferris wheel along the fair's Midway, giving people a view of the main grounds as people saw it in 1893. Still to come are recreations of the rest of the vast grounds, including pavilions built by other nations and the American states, and the roistering Midway attractions.
Much of the work has been on her own time and effort, she said, making her dependent on grants to visit archives to research the fair's architecture and landscaping. The recent best-selling historical novel about the fair, "The Devil in the White City," has helped immensely in raising public interest in the fair, she said.
"I started this project several years before Erik Larson published the novel," she said. "But I was so elated when it came out. It has generated a lot more interest in what I am doing."
The reconstruction of the fair is a sort of demonstration project for how the technology could be used for recreating all sorts of ancient and not-so-ancient landscapes that have disappeared, she said. The Columbian Exposition simulation could eventually be produced on an interactive Web site or on CD-rom to allow people to explore at their leisure, she said.
All of the buildings and nearly all of the monumental sculpture that graced the exposition grounds were made of plaster of Paris, and much of it was deteriorating badly at the end of the exposition's six-month run.
That meant it all had to be torn down at the fair's end except for the Fine Arts building, which was constructed more sturdily because it had to protect valuable artworks. After the fair, for two decades the Fine Arts building became the first incarnation of the Field Museum, then in 1933 was rebuilt to become the Museum of Science and Industry.
"When we saw this technology and what Lisa was doing with it, we wanted our guests to have a chance to see it," museum spokeswoman Lisa Miner said. "We want her to keep coming back and giving us updates as she completes the project."
Hyde Parker Peter Nepstad's computer game blends history, mystery and typing.
[Nepstad has also researched, written and lectured at the Hyde Park Historical Society on the Viking Ship sailed to the Columbian Exposition. (Visit the Jackson Park History page.) Nepstad's website: www.illuminatedlantern.com. Caution: one purchaser described problems using the game.]
Hyde Park Herald, February 9, 2005. By Mike Stevens
There is an upside to the Enron scandal and it can be found right here in Hyde Park. Peter Nepstad, who lost his job when Enron-auditor Arthur Anderson collapsed in 2002, said the extra time in his Hyde Park home allowed him to complete his 4-year-long pet project--a commuter game called "1893: A World's Fair Mystery." "I had no job and I had no interest in getting anything in business at that time because of the collapse," Nepstad said last week. "I had a project that could occupy my time so I wouldn't go insane/"
Based around a diamond heist at the Columbian Exposition, the text-based mystery game is a throwback to the early days of computer gaming. Think keyboards, not joysticks. "Computer games these days use movies as a model, [text-based] games the books as t heir model," Nepstad said. "It's older technology but people still read books so I figured it would be OK."
It was a book, Donald Millers's The City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America, that stirred Nepstad's interest in Chicago history. Between weekend jaunts to see Chicago landmarks and evening hours spent squinting at 100-year-old Chicago Tribune articles , Nepstad's historical sleuthing left little time for his other hobby, writing computer games. "Since I didn't have time to manage two hobbies, I combined them," Nepstad said.
The game, which retails for $19.95, also provided Nepstad a rationale and a goal for the long hours spent researching at the Harold Washington Library.
Rich with historical details and accompanied by more than 500 archival photos, the game takes players through most of the exhibits at the exposition in their hunt for eight diamonds stolen from the Kimberly Diamond Mining Exhibit.
Taking cues from a newspaper account of a man being gored at the livestock exhibit, Nepstad hid one diamond around the neck of a black bull. "It's a low body count, not a no body count [game]," Nepstad said.
After its 2002 release, Nepstad's game sold only a few copies despite some positive reviews. Eventually, Nepstad found his market in museums and institutions like the Chicago Architecture Foundation. By last December, he had sold 2,000 copies. Sales figures for independently-produced games are hard....
A modest press releases touting the 2,000 mark ended up catching the attention of a New York Times contributor. although he knew a story was coming, Nepstad said he did not realize the Jan.31  Sunday Times carried it until he checked his e-mail box later that day and had a backlog of orders to fill.
Now employed again, a new game seems difficult to contemplate, Nepstad said. But given time, the next game will likely center around the Pullman Porters' strike of 1894. "I am pretty sure that would be completely unpopular," Nepstad joked. "So I am interested in that." To order a game or for more information, go to www.illuminatedlantern.com.
[note: Museum of Science and Industry does not have the ship on its priorities- it does store the restored dragons head and tail-- it would take lots of room!! and says it will not be involved in fundraising for rescue or restoration. JPAC at its April 2004? meeting resolved to nonetheless seek to enlist Museum involvement, noting that MSI is the natural place for it, first because it houses the two ends, then as both are related to the World's Columbian Exposition, and MSI exhibits much on nautical technology and prowess and was spending 20 million to restore, move, and re house the U-505 Submarine. JPAC by 2014 was supporting restoration work and the search for a site by Friends of the Viking Ship.]
2012. Chicago Park
District and the Friends of the Viking Ship seeking restoration and a permanent
home for the Gokstad Viking Ship that was sailed to the Columbian Exposition
was reached in August 2012. The
restoration group will own the ship now in a park at Geneva, IL and be able
to raise funds. Formal transfer will be made in a court of law. To learn more
about the ship and project, contact Perry J. Gulbrandsen and visit http://www.vikingship.us/.
2014 - FOTVS's Lorraine Shaw gave an excellent illustrated history of the ship and accounting of stabilization work done and yet needed to the ship and its containment Museum, and search for a site for restoration and public display- March 10 2014 for JPAC and Montgomery Place Retirement Community. The ship is now under a plastic tent in the western suburbs.
Impressive Presenters. JPAC and Montgomery Place residents are most grateful to Friends of the Viking Ship (http://www.vikingship.us) and Raymond Johnson and friends of Friends of the White City (http://www.friendsofthewhitecity.org) and to our host, Montgomery Place, for detailed, elegant presentations at Montgomery Place Retirement Community on March 10. The presentations were informative and elegant. We learned the history, sad subsequent neglect, and recent stabilization and hopes for this unique replica ship-- much with this ship and its journeys being unique. The Park District in August 2012 agreed to relinquish rights to the ship to Friends of Viking Ship. And we learned a not-so-good story about the ice house at the fair and the many firemen lost-- and that we can find the huge wooded statue of Columbus that was at the building, now at the Greater Chicago Firefighters Museum. Read more about the Viking Ship in Jackson Park History page and Columbian Exposition.
From the August 9, 2012 Sun-Times, by Lisa Donovan
A relic from the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 is sailing into the hands of new owners. On Wednesday, the Chicago Park District approved the transfer of a replica Viking ship displayed at the Chicago World's Fair to the nonprofit Friends of the Viking Ship-- organized for the sole purpose of restoring the vessel. the park district has owned the ship since the 1920s. The ship was built a hear before the World's Fair and is a relic of the 1,000-year-old Viking ship know as Gokstad, according to court records. Perry L. Gulbrandsen a retired judge who is part of the nonprofit group's efforts to restore the vessel, said the ship is part of h is and other Norwegian American's "heritage" adn "DNA." He explained that 11 men and a captain sailed the replica ship--measuring 70 feet long by 16.5 feet wide -- across the Atlantic in 1892 to display it at the fair. Court records not that the route into the United States included the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes. The ship was donated to the park district in the 1920s, according to city officials. Little more than a decade later, park officials began trying to find a home for it. For many years, it sat at the Lincoln Park Zoo. In the 1990s, th ship was donated to a nonprofit group that moved it to Geneva. The group remains there - covered and protected, gulbrandsen said. Gulbrandsen said it will be costly to restore and move it- more than $415,00- but fund-raising is starting.
From Friends of the Parks Advocate, Fall 2012
A replica of an ancient Viking ship, one of the few remnants from the 1893 World's Columbian Ex[position], was transferred from the Chicago Park District to a non-profit, Friends of the Viking Ship, whose mission is to restore the 120 year-old ship.
Norway constructed the replica of a 1,000 year-old Viking Ship in 1892. Eleven men and a captain sailed the ship from Norway across the Atlantic in 1892 to Chicago for the 1893 Worlds' Columbian Ex[position}. The Viking Ship was a major attraction of the Fair.
The ship remained in Chicago [returned after a trip to New Orleans] after the Fair and was donated to the Chicago Park District in 1920. The Park District housed it at the Lincoln Park Zoo until the 1990's when it was donated to another non-profit group who told the District they planned to restore the historic ship. The group relocated the ship to Geneva, Illinois, but it later folded without raising the necessary restoration funds. Friends of the Viking Ship is a new non-profit, established in order to complete the goal of raising an estimated $415,000 required to restore the Viking ship.
Jackson Park Advisory Council was told by the Park District in July 2006 that various organizations have raised monies already and for the ship to be moved for restoration and exhibition. JPAC passed a resolution of support. The Museum of Science and Industry has informally declined suggestions that it would be a good fit for storage-restoration-display of the ship, the MSI spokesperson citing space, money, and especially that the ship is historical technology while the Museum seeks exhibits and objects illustrating technology that looks to the future. GMO personal information.
Hyde Park Herald, March 26, 2003, by Peter Nepstad
About an hour's drive west of Chicago, in a private park, sits a 110-year-old wooden ship that once made headlines around the world. The flimsy tarp that protected it from the elements has been blown aside by strong winds, and rain now freely pounds against the exposed wood. It is only a matter of time until the ship is damaged beyond repair. But in its current location, few people will even note its disappearance; many believe it is gone already.
It wasn't always this way.
The story of the ship is a long one that goes back to 1880, to Gokstad, Norway, and the discovery of a Viking war vessel unearthed from a burial mound. The Gokstad, as it was called, was built around 890 and was in remarkable shape. It provided the first tangible evidence that the Vikings had built ships capable of traveling to the New World.
But the proof would have to wait for a Norwegian named Magnus Andersen who decided that a replica of a Viking ship should be sailed across the Atlantic, as a counterpoint to the World Exhibition that would be held in America in 1893 to honor Columbus. He later recalled, "As I thought this over more closely, I found the idea more and more attractive. That Leif Eriksson had been in America before Columbus had been clearly proved but was not commonly known either in America or elsewhere, not even Norway...".
The replica of the Gokstad was funded by popular subscription and completed in time for the Exposition. It was decorated with a silk banner embroidered with ravens. The ship itself was christened "The Raven," but American popular press quickly named it, "The Viking." Magnus Andersen was the Captain.
The Viking sailed from Bergen, Norway and reached Newfoundland four weeks later. The crew, uncertain how the ship would handle on the open seas, found it had exceeded all expectations. "We noted with admiration the ship's graceful movements," Andersen later wrote.
From Newfoundland, Viking headed south to New York, then sailed into the Great Lakes. Carter Harrison, Chicago's four-term mayor, boarded and took command for the last leg of the voyage, arriving at Jackson Park on Wednesday, July 12, 1893 to much fanfare. Magnus Andersen had turned his dreams into reality.
The Viking moored at Jackson Park for the remainder of the fair. Afterwards, the Captain piloted it through the ILM canal to the Mississippi River, all the way to New Orleans--the only seafaring vessel ever to do so.
The ship was brought back to Chicago and stored in the Field Columbian Museum until 1919, when it was restored and placed in Lincoln Park. In 1933, Magnus Andersen repeated his historic voyage in a modern freighter to appear at Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition.
The ship sat in Lincoln Park right up until the 1970's. Covered by a roof and enclosed by a chain-link fence, it sat outside in the blistering heat of summer and the freezing cold of winter until the wood seems more akin to steel than anything else. Time had taken its toll on the Viking.
The Chicago Park District, without the funds to do a proper restoration, sold the ship for $1 to the American Scandinavian Council, which promised to raise the necessary funds, estimated at $12 million dollars, to restore the historic vessel.
It seemed like a good idea at the time. But the funds were never successfully raised, and no preservation or restoration has been done. Unfortunately, the ship was also moved out of Lincoln Park, and has been out of the public eye for nearly thirty years. Now it sits in Good Templar Park, a private park located in Geneva, IL, and closed to the public for much of the year. And the careful work of keeping it dry for the past fifty or so years is being undone by a temporary shelter that no longer keeps off the rain.
It seems unbelievable that the historic vessel has ended up in this condition. But the situation is not entirely without hope. Ownership may have reverted to the Chicago Park District. And all parties are now seeking a new, permanent location. Cook County Commissioner Carl Hansen, a long time advocate of the project, describes all parties as committed to saving the ship and giving it a new home where everyone can enjoy this part of their cultural heritage. "We are looking for a permanent location for the ship, before we try again to preserve it," Hansen said. "We've all learned the hard way how hard it is to raise funds for something when no one knows what will happen to it once it is finished."
Nothing has been decided yet, and discussions for a new home for the Viking are still underway. Among the possibilities: the Museum of Science and Industry, housed in the last remaining World's Fair building still located in Jackson Park. Perhaps someday soon, the Viking will once again set sail, and return to the place that has always been its only true destination.
This is one of a series of articles being published monthly through a collaboration of the Herald with the Hyde Park Historical Society.
Peter Nepstad has studied the 1893 World's Fair for the past four years to develop a CC-ROM adventure game called "1893: A World's Fair Mystery" which can be ordered on line at http://illuminatedlantern.com/1893.
[March 29, 2003] at 1:00 p.m. Peter Nepstad and Douglas Anderson [appeared] at the Hyde Park Historical Society [5529 S. Lake Park] for a presentation on the Columbian Exposition followed by a related tour through the Wooded Island.
The following is based largely on Joseph M. DiCola, "The Jackson Park Caravels" in the Summer, 2014 Chicago History.
As part of its contribution to the Fair, Spain undertook first a recreation of the Santa Maria to sail to the Fair and later also the Nina and Pina. A replica of the La Rabida Franciscan monastery, where Columbus awaited decision by Queen Isabella, would also be part of Spain's gift, intended to house relics of Columbus and of his time. La Carraca Arsenal at San Fernando was to be the naval shipyard where the ships were built. the commission guessed at construction, since in the 14th century there were no standard blueprints, ships being built for a particular purpose from tradition, and the only guide was Columbus's logbooks-- the originals of which were lost. There is a 16th century transcription by Fr. Bartholeme de las Casas. Santa Maria was inferred to be a carrack- built high in the water for long distances; Nina and Pinta were inferred to be caravels--broad-beamed with three masts rigged variously lateen (triangular slanted) and or square. Nina was lateen (caravel latina), Pinta square (caravel redonda). (Records indicate that in the Canaries Columbus re-rigged the Nina square to match the other two in crossing the Atlantic.) The Santa Maria reconstruction was built and launched, June 26, 1892, before the U.S. government ordered the other two ships-- built on the cheap utilizing existing hulls in the dying days of sail, and actually unseaworthy and towed across the Atlantic, only the Santa Maria was sailed. The Nina was incorrectly rigged lateen and the Pinta was not only rigged incorrectly but had a forecastle. They sailed in December? 1892.
And what of the originals? On December 24, 1892 just as Christmas Eve started off Hispaniola a perfect storm of complacency, fatigue (nearly everyone went to sleep) and miss-staffing the helm with an inexperienced boy converged with geography-- the Santa Maria slid onto a reef. Gradually the ship became nothing but salvage, and on January 2 was abandoned---until apparently rediscovered by a salvager in May 2014. The Pinta was lost to history after the end of the first voyage, March 15, 1493. The Nina was in the 2nd voyage fleet and the flagship on the return voyage. After a commercial voyage in which it was captured by and recovered from pirates, it was in the third voyage, and in 1501 sailed to South America-- and out of history.
And the anchor of the original flagship, (although its authenticity was circumstantial), brought to the replica of La Rabida Convent in Jackson Park for the Fair... In 1925 it was given to and put on display at the then-Chicago Historical Society. In 1992, it was delivered to the Dominican Republic's Fundacion La Isabela, the land where the Santa Maria sank.
For the replicas, stops were Tenefre in the Canaries, San Juan, Puerto Rica, and Havana, Cuba, Hampton Roads (where they starred in an international naval review, and in New York (where the Santa Maria was in the Columbian Naval Review). In the St. Lawrence they stopped at Quebec City and Montreal and then on to Toronto and Milwaukee, reaching Chicago on July 7, 1893, more than a year after the Santa Maria was launched, 147 days after leaving Spain, and more than two months after the Fair opened May 1.
The ships moored lined up in South Inlet/Pond (approximately the entrance of the modern Jackson Harbor) alongside the Agriculture Building and south of the Casino and opposite Promontory Circle with its replica of La Rabida. Fairgoers lined up to board the replicas throughout the Fair. Only once were te 3 ships sailed out into Lake Michigan.
The ships were oblivious to the salvage and fires that followed the closure of the Fair October 31, 1893 and continued to be popular and accepted visitors on board, especially pageants around Columbus Day. There is little record of maintenance (mainly breaking up ice around the ships) for the next 18 or so years. In 1911 there was a grand pageant centered around the ships and La Rabida with "Fr. Perez" welcoming re-enactors of Columbus and Ferdinand and Isabella to "Palos, Spain<" and "Columbus" and crew boarded the Santa Maria, which was towed to Grant Park for "landfall" (sailors discovering on the voyage a large hull leak). Mass was said at Holy Name Cathedral by Archbishop Quigley followed by a parade and banquet at the Auditorium.
August 1913 the three were sailed, destination to be the Panama-Pacific Exposition by way of the West Indies and Panama Canal. Nina and Pinta nearly foundered in Lake Erie and were towed back to Jackson Park. By the time the Santa Maria reached Boston, the plan was short on money, so there she stayed-- and the flock of visitors didn't show, so when she sailed homeward, the Canadians impounded her for debt-- the South Park Board settled and the Santa Maria arrived home July 23, 1918. Her state was deplorable, and despite appeals in the papers, care and maintenance remained sporadic.
In spring 1918, the Pinta's seams split and she sank to the bottom. February 7, 1919 the Nina burned to the waterline and sank. Later both were salvaged for the sake of the sailing lanes. In 1920, the Santa Maria was given a rebuild-- little more of the original was kept but the keel and metal fittings. By 1940 Santa Maria was deemed unsafe for visitors, and loose material (except the large and small cannon) including the anchors were donated to the then-Chicago Historical Society. C. 1946, the Jackson Park Yacht Club started a campaign for removal of the "eyesore"-- which many opposed. An assessment in 1948 deemed dredging and restoration too costly, and a fundraising campaign by the Knights of Columbus failed. April 3, 1952 a fire destroyed most of what hadn't sunk into the mud, and a month later the ship was destroyed and dredged out.
For more: Andrew Kaul, Jr. Official Guide: Historical Educational Cruise of the Santa Maria... Reading, PA, Eagle Pub., 1914. Jose Maria Marinez-Hidalgo, Columbus' Ships, Barre, MA, Barre Pub., 1966.
Carolyn Johnson of the University of Chicago gave a most interesting program in August 2010 at the Hyde Park Historical Society on the peoples and their music at the Midway of the Columbian Exposition. This included in addition to rare photos and sketchings some of the earliest ethnographic recordings of music, transcribed from wax cylinders at/by the Smithsonian Institution. Among other interesting revelations is that many of the peoples either were not of the national or ethnic groups advertised or in the case of the gamelan players were labor force from Dutch plantations in the then-Dutch East Indies. The Midway was a business staged by a very innovative promoter named Mort Sahl (sp. may be incorrect).
At the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago 2nd floor through April 2007. "Chicago's Two World Fairs: the Untold Asian Story. 238 W. 23rd St. 312 949-1000. Through April 2007. Here is the story, from a review in the Hyde Park Herald, June 14, 2006. By Caitlin Devitt.
When the Chinese government turned down President Benjamin Harrison's invitation to participate in the 1893 World's fair, in protest of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act restricting immigration, two Chicago Chicago Chinese groups began competing for the chance to represent their home country. Korea had emerged from its notorious isolation to participate (the King himself organizing the exhibit), and Japan spent nearly $500,000 constructing its own fairgrounds, building, teahouse and gardens.
For the Chinese exhibit, located near the Ferris Wheel [on the Midway], a group calling itself the Wah Mee Company won the bid, and erected an elaborate temple [Joss House], theater and teahouse to showcase China. The businessmen spent around $20,000 just on bringing over actors from China. They went bankrupt within three months, despite the exhibit's popularity.
If at the time the world considered the 1893 World's Fair to be history in the making, time has borne that out. The fair is one of those events constantly plumbed for new stories. Now the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago has documented the East Asian contribution to this and the 1933 Chicago World's Fair.
First a word about the museum itself. It's housed in a narrow brick warehouse building on a Chinatown side street, a typical Chicago industrial four-flat, with glass brick windows and a vacant garbage-strewn lot next door. The museum is one year old, and the building is only half rehabbed, but the place seems busy with weekend traffic. Large banners flap on the facade advertising quirky exhibits, including the simply titled "Tofu, and Silk and Wood," and opening last Saturday at a crowded reception, "Chicago's Two World Fairs."
Several Asian countries participated in the 1893 World's Fair, giving many Americans their first look at the people and artifacts from the Exotic East; this is where Frank Lloyd Wright saw Japanese architecture for the first time. The exhibit provides a solid overview of the Korean and Japanese contribution, but gets deeper as it details the Chinese participation, emphasizing the personalities and politics of the powerful Chinese Americans who got involved in the big events.
By 1933, the world had darkened considerably, and fewer Asian countries participated in that fair. Several that did were colonized, and presented by the occupier. The Great Depression was deepening, and China and Japan were moving toward war. In this fair, the Chinese exhibit was represented by five often-hostile groups, three of which were not even Chinese, including a New York jeweler and a Swedish-led committee that had designed the extravagant Chinese temple.
Made up of photographs, artifacts, maps and reproductions, many of the show's materials were donated by the Museum of Science and Industry, which in 1992 inherited a great collection from Silas Henry Fung, as well as the University of Chicago Library.
It's the museum's fist exhibit on the newly rehabbed second floor. Like all non-profits, the institution is on the lookout for funding, as it wants to finish the top two floors and has plans to convert the adjacent lot into parking and a garden.
Christopher Reid of Roosevelt U. in his two books, "All the World is Here," The Black Presence at the White City and Black Chicago's First Century, shows that not all African Americans joined Ida B. Wells in protesting and boycotting the Fair, nor was there a universal ban on their presence but that African Americans were a significant presence, from 1 in a key administrative position and many participating in the symposia and exhibits, to labor.
There have to have been African Americans in the city and especially the South Side at the time for presence to have been debatable. African Americans after the era of DuSable were a small percentage of the population of the boom town, but here nonetheless. As early as the 1880s they were observed to be using Washington Park and especially Washington Park Racetrack, where some worked.
Participants at the Fair included
- workers who cleared the site,
- the Ferris Wheel operator,
- directions-givers (although they were excluded from the Columbian Guard),
- chair boys/cart pushers,
- carpenters (ultimately excluded),
- artists who were African American as exhibitors (Henry Mc Neil Tanner's "First Lesson on the Bagpipe" and put art on plants displays),
- scientists- George Washington Carver,
- performances- 1000 uniformed Knights of Pythias from Mississippi and black cowboys at the opening,
- speakers at conferences- Booker T. Washington on labor, Ida B. Wells , ____Bishop on God is Black, Fanny B. Williams, a conference on black women writers, and an 8 day conference on whether African Americans should stay in America. At least 6 black women spoke. (W.E.B. Dubois was in Germany at the time.)
Frederick Douglass Monument page. In this page more detail follows this appeal.
The granite boulder with plaque were installed at a large ceremony May 15 2009. It is on the trail south of the 59th Marina and west of the 59th Lake Shore Drive underpass.
July 13, 2008 By Gary Ossewaarde
Retired South Shore teacher has worked tirelessly to arrange for a memorial stone and plaque for Frederick Douglass near Jackson Park's 59th Inlet, west of Lake Shore Drive. This project, which has enthusiastic support from Jackson Park Advisory Council and Alderman Leslie A. Hairston and grew out of a school living history classroom project, is described in other pages--specifically see the Jackson Park/JPAC homepage and Columbian Exposition page--as well as various Jackson Park Advisory Council Newsletters (accessed from the JPAC homepage). The monument would stand in the footprint of the Haitian Pavilion of the 1893 Exposition, where Douglass gave the first speech of the under-construction Exposition and represented Haiti at the pavilion during the fair, as well as participating in other ways. To learn more of that and the presence of Ida B. Wells at the fair, consult Reed, Christopher Robert. The First 100 Years of Black History in Chicago. More papers are being assembled thanks to Rapoport and the Hyde Park Historical Society.
A monumental granite boulder with bronze plaque, paid for by many contributors, was dedicated at a large ceremony May 15 2009. it is south of the 59th Marina.
The plaque l reads:
FREDERICK DOUGLASS (1818-1895), AN EX-SLAVE,
WAS AN IMPORTANT AUTHOR, EDITOR, ORATOR, STATESMAN
AND ONE OF THE FOREMOST LEADERS
OF THE ABOLITIONIST MOVEMENT IN AMERICA
IN CELEBRATION OF HAITIAN INDEPENDENCE DAY
AND THE COMPLETION OF THE FIRST PAVILION
FOR THE WORLD’S COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION,
DOUGLASS DEDICATED THE HAITIAN PAVILION
JACKSON PARK, JANUARY 2, 1893
DEDICATED BY CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS,
TEACHERS AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS
Tribute to Frederick Douglass, Haitian Pavilion at Columbian Exposition
By Gary Ossewaarde, JPAC Secretary
For some years in the mid 2000s Barry Rapoport, then teacher at South Shore High School Small School for Leadership, led groups of students in marking off the footprint of the Haitian Pavilion at the Columbian Exposition and talking about the pavilion (first completed building, near where the Bowling Green is, southeast of the Museum and by Lake Shore Drive) and the role of Frederick Douglass there in giving speeches (including the first ceremonial speech) and informing the public. Mr. Rapoport has also made and used large puppets of Douglass and other notables of the time in the educational project at the site.
In his report on the project, Rapoport proposed a maker to Douglass and the Fair occasion at the site and markers at two other historic spots in Jackson Park and Midway Plaisance. The proposal for the Douglass marker was, with Council approval and advice and that of elected officials narrowed to a small boulder with incised text. The proposal was submitted with support to the Park District and a summit was held that has presumably led to recommendation to the CPD Board of Commissioners. Here is the notice from the Hyde Park Historical Society's Autumn 2007 Hyde Park History.
If all goes as planned, a collaborative effort between the School of Leadership of South Shore High School and the Chicago Park District will result in a commemorative marker honoring abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass. Plans call for an engraved boulder to be installed near the present Lawn Bowling Court in Jackson Park just north of the 59th Street Harbor, the precise location of the Haitian Pavilion of the 1893 Columbian World Exposition. This project, which began more than two years ago, credits Douglass for his leadership and commitment to the quest for knowledge and will give Chicagoans a more inclusive historical perspective about the activities of this great leader.
Douglass, appointed the Minister-in-Charge of the Haitian Pavilion, gave the dedication address on January 2, 1893, Haitian Independence Day.
Hyde Park Herald, June 4, 2008. By Crystal Fencke
Barry Rapoport wore the smile of a proud father-to-be looking into the future. As he stood on a plot of green grass near the Museum of Science and Industry, between the 59th Street Harbor and the Bowling Green on a cool evening in May, he couldn't seem to wipe the smile off his face as he talked about the idea he's been incubating.
"It all stated as a unit on Chicago," the retired English teacher explained of the plans he is spearheading with the School of Leadership of South Shore High School and the Parkways Foundation, a fiscal agent of the Chicago Park District/ Rapoport is leading the movement to mark the spot where statesman Frederick Douglass spoke at the Haitian Pavilion at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. "I was an English teacher -- not a history teacher. I taught the regular curriculum and added some things pertaining to Douglass," he said.
That's how the idea began. Now the groups are looking to dedicate the spot with a plaque atop a boulder where the former slave and eventual abolitionist and author spoke to crowds at this major event in Chicago history. The Haitian Pavilion was the first pavilion to open the fair and it represented Haitian independence from France.
Walking the area with Rapoport is like a lively history lesson. First RApoport walked over to the pier to show the landing where the boats docked to let off visitors to the exposition. Visitors would depart the boats and head to any of the 200 buildings erected for the fair. And the Haitian Pavilion was easily accessed via a small set of steps, of which the original still stands.
"Douglass was born into slavery, and he lived as a slave into his '20s," said Rapoport. "He basically taught himself how to read. The wife of the slave owner was teaching him, but her husband reminded her it was illegal to teach a slave to read," explained Rapoport. "In Chicago, the story of his life hasn't been told," said Rapoport. As "Douglass was was on a 'knowledge path,'" the plaque would read "knowledge I mean to have," Rapoport said.
Rapoport was a teacher at the School of Leadership of South Shore High before he retired. This school was part of the High School Redesign initiative executed under schools chief Arne Duncan and with considerable funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he said. This initiative was established to create smaller schools in an effort to combat truancy and poor test scores
Rapoport use to bring classes out to harbor ares by the lakeshore and trace the 'footprint,' or th e actual area of the Haitian Pavilion. There were about 30 in his groups, including adults. The 'footprint' measures about 200 feet by 200 feet, according to a math teacher who surveyed the area. Rapoport has even created a doll, something like a Kabuki puppet, which a student wore at the 2007 Bud Billiken Day Parade.
Rapoport has been working with the Parkways Foundation, a Chicago Park District group that helps fund worthy projects in the parks, to raise money forth e masker. So far, they have raised $750 of the $5,000 needed. He has received letters of recommendation from Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) and Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th). "Hairston wrote a letter to the Chicago Park District putting her approval on a project in this historic park," said Rapoport. He is looking to [article truncated.]
From final report and recommendations of the South Shore High Frederick Douglass/CPS-CPD park teaching project
In the Spring of 2005, during our Cross-Curricular Unit on Chicago, we… became aware that Frederick Douglass was a former slave, abolitionist, orator, statesman, Conductor for the Underground Railroad, journalist, and founder of the newspaper, The North Star: later known as The Frederick Douglass newspaper. Douglass also spent much time in Chicago where he lived in 1893 and was directly involved in a major Chicago event. For example:
1. Douglass gave the Dedication speech opening The Columbian Exposition on January 2, 1893, from the Haitian Pavilion located north of the Bowling Green.
2. We also learned that George Ferris designed and led a team that constructed the first ever Ferris wheel for the Fair.
3. We also became aware through an alumni survey that South Shore alumni are ignorant when it comes to many of the facts pertaining to Jackson Park.
4. We learned that many people who live in and around the park, both currently and those who have lived here in the past are largely unaware of the historical significance of the intellectual discussions raised in this park during the World’s Columbian Exposition.
5. And what a surprise it was to find out that the Museum of Science and Industry was The Fine Arts Palace, designed and built for the Columbian Exposition.
We would like to make three suggestions to support knowledge and awareness of the park. The suggestions are graphic and have been stimulated by the Project…
During the summer of ’05, I obtained letters of support for a school-park collaborative project from the Jackson Park Advisory council and from Alderman Hairston. The Chicago Park District also gave their approval for our proposed programming.
Throughout the year, ending in June 2006, we chalked the spot where Douglass was and entertained passersby. We had two students and three adults on site. We spoke with fishermen, pedestrians, bicyclists (if they stopped), joggers and the harbormaster as well as many of the boaters in the motorboat harbor. We had no complaints that we were aware of. Everyone recognized immediately, that what we were doing was a good thing. One of the participating students, absorbing the positive energy of the site, learned to juggle three juggling clubs. He could already juggle beanbags, but from beanbags to juggling clubs is a step not all jugglers make.
I am hopeful that the markings recommended to the Park will be approved, passed along and implemented.
It was great meeting so many wonderful people with each step on this project. It is my hope that seeds have been planted that will find fertile soil.
Thank you very much!
Ed. The three recommended markings honoring sites at the Columbian Exposition are: 1) two boulders with plaques, like the one honoring Paul H. Douglas at Osaka Garden on Wooded Island—one on the spot where Frederick Douglass gave the inaugural address at the Haitian Pavilion and the other near the foundation site of the great Ferris Wheel on Midway Plaisance. 2) a sign on 57th Drive near the Museum of Science and Industry saying “Welcome to Jackson Park, Site of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.”
In the run-up to the Exposition, many Chicagoans vociferously protested the Fair or contested its being or not being near them.
William Zieske notes in a letter to the August 15, 2007 Herald, on expressed opposition to the 2016 Olympics,
"Mr. Staples' letter (July 11) mentions the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, which transformed our neighborhood to an urban environment, catapulted Hyde Park to its first fame, and truly made Chicago a world-class city.
"The history leading up to the Exposition is less well known. I invite the Herald's readers to peruse the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times from 1890 through 1891. It is fascinating to read some of the stories about high-profile haggling among chicagoans in the early 1890s, about whether the Fair should be held on the South Side, West Side, or in Lakefront Park (now Grant Park). New Yorkers argued that Congress should reconsider awarding the coveted Exposition to Chicago, where no one apparently wanted it, and relocate it to their great city, where the entire city would pull together to put on great show for the world. In combination with concern over fiscal over-runs, this became a real possibility.
"It is interesting to read the very same arguments Mr. Staples makes--"not-in-my-backyard" or NIMBY arguments--that were vociferously made by various factions nearly 120 years ago, and nearly derailed Chicago's greatest moment in history.
Phoenixes from Columbian Exposition find safe, viewable nests at last
The Art Institute of Chicago’s Asian Galleries have become a fitting home for four carved and painted wooden panels that once were the highlight of Japan’s exhibit at the Columbian Exposition of 1893, the Hoh-o-den in the north end of Jackson Park’s Wooded Island, just to the west of the modern Osaka Japanese Garden. After careful restoration, the panels are mounted side-by-side above display cases and the entry to a contemporary-design exhibit of Japanese Art in the Asian Galleries of the Weston Michigan Avenue wing.
The panels (ramma), each of two planks, were deeply and elaborately carved and heavily painted and applied with gold leaf, as was commonly done to add brightness in Japanese temples. The two mythical birds on each panel, depicted as a cross between pheasant and peacock, are sharp-beaked and one has an open mouth and the other a closed mouth, representing dichotomy and complement in life, a kind of yin and yang. They were said to mate for life, living among pines and paulownia (a blue-flowered plant in which they prefer to land). They appear to humans when there is a great ruler. Since the Columbian Exposition followed the Meiji Restoration, the phoenix was an especially appropriate emblem. And Japan was then especially eager to show its culture, wares, modernization and strength to the world by donating pavilions and reproductions of temples and tea houses at international expositions. The Japanese exhibit was a highlight of the Fair, set apart on the Island that was intended in part to serve as a respite and elaborate garden.
After the Fair, the temple and its panels were given to Chicago by the Japanese government. They suffered gradual neglect, and in 1935 the remaining structure became a tea house serving food and beverages. A succession of controversial fires occurred in the mid 1940s and destroyed the structure, after which the damaged panels were placed in storage by Chicago Park District- under the bleachers of Soldier Field, (along with other treasures. In the 1970s, two were sent to the Art Institute of Chicago and two were placed in a classroom at UIC.
Eventually UIC realized money for restoration was unlikely and by 2005 then- UIC art chair David Sokol got enthusiastic interest in the panels by Janice Katz, Associate Curator of Japanese Art at the Art Institute. The vision was to reunite, restore, and display the panels as the Asian galleries were renovated. The panels were donated and in 2010 sent to be restored in Evanston. Restoration was very complex. Soot had to be removed without creating damage, beaks were re-carved, and decision was made to apply paint and gold in a manner to make the panels look “gracefully aged” rather than new. The panels were installed at the start of August 2011 and are now on view.
How the Phoenix Hall fit into the big picture of historicism, modernism, and the emergence of modern times.
"Columbian Exposition relics now restored". Hyde Park Herald, August 17, 2011. By Sam Cholke
The only surviving relics of a landmark Hyde Park building, which was reportedly the inspiration for Frank Lloyd Wright's prairie style of architecture, are on display for the first time since 1945.
Earlier this month, the Art Institute of Chicago unveiled four carved wooden panels from Phoenix Hall, part of the Japanese pavilion of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. The temple was the first Japanese-style building ever constructed in the United States.
Built during a period when Japan was eager to assert its rising influence in the world, the nation's leading architects and craftsmen were recruited to design and build a version of 1th-century Byodo-in Temple of Uji, just outside Kyoto, on Wooded Island for the fair.
Of all the buildings built during the fair, the temple caused the biggest stir in the architectural community-- Harper's magazine printed floor plans of the temple and sent a reporter to witness construction. The temple was one of the few diversions from the then-popular Beaux-Arts style that dominated the fair.
"I had just opened my office in the Schiller Building, 1893, when came disaster, Chicago's first Worlds' Fair," Wright spoke of his experience at the exposition. "The fair soon appeared to me more than ever tragic travesty: florid countenance of theoretical Beaux-Arts formalisms; perversions of what modern building we then had achieved.. A senseless reversion."
Wright, who would go on to design the Robie House at 5757 S. Woodlawn Ave., split from mentor Louis Sullivan shortly before the fair and was searching for a new style to define his practice. The temple "demonstrated that a building could be unmasked and beautiful, human in scale and appealing, that good workmanship showed to better advantage on the actualized building than on the drawing board, and that architecture--real architecture--need make no apologies for its use of simple, everyday materials," Wright said of the building, according to "The Japanese Influence in America."
After the fair, Hyde Park laid claim to the catalyst for modern architecture until it was set on fire in 1945 and 1946 during the tense years of World War II.* The only relics to survive the fire were four panels by master sculptor Takamura Koun depicting the phoenix and other imagery.
Despite surviving the fire, the panels went missing for 27 years. According to Julia Bachrach, a Chicago Park District historian who is researching the history of the panels, a park district engineer supposedly rediscovered the panels in a storage space under the bleachers of Soldier Field in 1973.
The panels were then split between the Art Institute and the University of Illinois-Chicago until 2008, when the Art Institute acquired the remaining panels. The Art Institute spent the last year restoring the panels. Litas Liparini Studio of Evanston was hired to do structural stabilization, cleaning, pigment consolidation, toning and re-carving of many elements, such as the birds' heads.
The panels are now on permanent view in gallery 108 in the new Weston Wing at the Art Institute, together again for the first time since 1945.
*Experts have differing opinions on whether the fires had any connection to the War.