Various bits of flotsam that washed up on our computers, before we moved to a better blog system in November 2004. Now a repository for YouTube videos and testing new tools. Go to for more recent content.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Devil in the White City

'ey, did any of you (especially the Chicagoans) read Erik Larson's "Devil in the White City". I just finished it and it was an excellent nonfiction (after a fashion) read. It is basically two different stories taking place concurrently--one of which is a macabre (but based on facts--about a serial killer)--and the other story (the one I was more interested in) about the 1889 Chicago World's Fair. I can't remember when I last read something that so caused me to want to do followup research on an event or the historical figures surrounding it (especially Frederick Law Olmsted, whom I was already interested in by virtue of living in NYC for 8 years).
The architects involved in desiging the World's Columbian Exposition (as the fair was called): Olmsted, Meade, McKim, Sullivan, Root, Daniel Burnham, Hunt and the painter Francis Millet. The exhibition structures/grounds: otherworldly white and surrounded with rich green plantlife, colorful flowers, manmade lagoons, all against the background of Lake Michigan. At night the tableau of enormous white neoclassical buildings were illuminated by hundreds of thousands of artificial electric lights (what we today flippantly call bulbs, but which at the time--and in such quantity--were a great glorious wonder). Not to mention the first Ferris wheel (weighing 1. 2 million pounds when loaded with passengers). And they built this wonderland in only 2 years time from a swampy wasteland by the lake.

Well read the book yourself if you're interested in more, or perhaps there's another book about the Fair out there (sans serial killer side story) that someone can recommend.


ps: Did the Chicagoans out know that Burnham Park is named after the mastermind/director of the World's Fair's construction?

pps: Shout out to Seth P. Swanksalot! Sho-E Sin-E--matching pair free!

bumped upwards


Blogger Seth Anderson said...

I actually haven't read this book yet, though I saved a review of it, since it looked like a good summer read.

6:12 PM, May 24, 2004


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