During the mid-twentieth century, critics of Chicago continued to deride the Midwestern metropolis as a provincial backwater. New York writer A. J. Liebling commented on the dearth of fine dining and entertainment and the migration of rising literary stars from Chicago to New York and Los Angeles, and labeled Chicago the "Second City"--a metropolis whose glory days were now passed. As before, civic and business leaders fought against such characterizations. In 1933, the city hosted another world's fair, the Century of Progress Exposition, to commemorate Chicago's incorporation as a town in 1833 and to draw attention to current accomplishments, energy, and modernism in the city. During the 1950s and 1960s, other cultural contributions emerged from Chicago. Blues musicians from Chicago toured Europe and the Middle East, drawing attention to distinctive musical style associated with the city. Authors and poets like Richard Wright, James Farrell, Nelson Algren, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Saul Bellow provided evidence of local literary ferment. The controversial "Second Chicago School" of architecture again presented Chicago as a locus of architectural innovation and modern style. And in 1959, a group of young actors reclaimed Liebling's epithet and established what would become the internationally recognized Second City Theatre.
In this series of drawings that originally appeared first in the Chicago Tribune and then in Opera Topics, cartoonist John T. McCutcheon celebrated some of Chicago's most famous sites for tourists and locals alike.
Organizers of Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition (1933-1934) hoped to take advantage of renewed interest in international expositions, noting the success of fairs in Marseilles (1922), London (1924-1925), Paris (1925), and Philadelphia (1926). Held in the midst of an era of international economic crisis, the Chicago fair sought to promote confidence in Chicago's and America's social and economic future. Many of the exposition's exhibits and buildings (including the Travel and Transport Building, designed by Edward H. Bennett, John Holabird, and Hubert Burnham) emphasized the promise of business, science, and government working together to assure sound economic development in the United States and worldwide.
S. R. Crown Hall, College of Architecture, Illinois Institute of Technology, 3630 South State Street, was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and completed in 1956. Mies had been a leader in the development of modernist architecture in Europe, before emigrating from Germany to Chicago in 1937. His work in the city--including numerous apartment and office buildings as well as the Illinois Institute of Technology campus--and his influence as a teacher on several local architects helped draw attention to Chicago as an internationally recognized center of a new style known as the "Second Chicago School."
See also: Architecture: Second Chicago School
The powerful, scorching sound of electrically amplified guitar and harmonica were core elements in what became known as a distinctly Chicago style of blues music. The "Chicago sound" and leading practitioners such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, and Elmore James had a significant influence on numerous British musicians, including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, John Lennon, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page.
Second City cast on stage, 1960. Eugene Troobnick, standing; left to right: Barbara Harris, Mina Kolb, Andrew Duncan, and Severn Darden.