And I’m back to give you part 2! If you missed part 1, you can find it here. I’ll just jump right in.
- I told you before that two buildings still stand in their original position from the fair. At least three more buildings survived after the Fair, but they have been moved to other locations, such as museums or privately owned land.
- It’s a little ironic that the Fair was supposed to show how Chicago had rebuilt itself after the Great Fire of 1871, since the year after the Fair much of the fairgrounds were destroyed during a fire. This second fire occurred during the Pullman Strike.
- One of the attractions was called the “Street in Cairo” and was designed to look like an Egyptian marketplace. It featured a belly dancer who was nicknamed “Little Egypt.” She performed what was, at the time, considered a “provocative” and “suggestive” belly dance (I do not know this dance and therefore cannot comment on whether or not it is actually suggestive or provocative) that was called the (I kid you not) “hootchy-kootchy.” It was performed to a tune that is now commonly associated with snake charmers. I’m betting the whole exhibit was just as offensive as it sounds and not at all representative of Cairo or a real Egyptian marketplace.
- The Chicago World’s Fair had the first moving sidewalk that was opened to the public. It was the Great Wharf Moving Sidewalk and carried people to the nearby casino.
- “Buffalo Bill” was denied a spot at the Fair, so he set up next to it so that attendees of the Fair would also stop by his show. He earned a great amount of money and didn’t have to pay any of it to the Fair developers.
- The Fair almost went bankrupt due to the cost of building and maintaining the exhibits (and paying the laborers). However, the Ferris Wheel saved the Fair by being an extremely popular attraction that drew many new attendees. The Chicago laborers employed by the Fair (those who survived it, anyway) were certainly glad for the work, since the Fair took place amid the Panic of 1893, a time of great economic depression.
- It is estimated that more than 27 million people attended the Fair during the six months that it was open.
- People who visited the Louisiana pavilion were gifted with the seedlings of Cypress trees. According to some rumors, this actually helped spread the growth of Cypress trees to areas to which it was not native and it now thrives in places such as West Virginia.
- The Fair introduced attendees to a new breakfast food: shredded wheat. It also saw the debut of Juicy Fruit Gum.
- Milton Hershey purchased chocolate manufacturing equipment from a European exhibitor at the Fair so he could add chocolate products to his caramel manufacturing business.
So there you have it. The Chicago World’s Fair, or The World’s Columbian Exposition, gave us the current home of the Art Institute of Chicago and The Museum of Science and Industry, it introduced shredded wheat and Juicy Fruit gum (but not together – yuck!), and is partially responsible for Hershey’s chocolate. Interesting stuff. It also most likely had some outrageously problematic representation of non-U.S. cultures. Whose not shocked?