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Interpretive Digital Essay : The Plan of Chicago
The Plan of Chicago
Chicago in 1909
Planning Before the Plan
Antecedents and Inspirations
The City the Planners Saw
The Plan of Chicago
The Plan Comes Together
Creating the Plan
Reading the Plan
A Living Document
Columbian Exposition Gallery
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Souvenir Map of the World's Columbian Exposition


The center of the exposition was the assembly of titanic buildings around the Basin in the Court of Honor, located approximately where the area between 64th and 66th Streets meets the lake. At the north end of the fairgrounds was the Palace (or Gallery) of Fine Arts, future home of the Field Columbian Museum and now of the Museum of Science and Industry. To the west, between 59th and 60th Streets, lay the attractions of the Midway Plaisance, including the first Ferris Wheel.

See also: Jackson Park; Tourism and Conventions

Court of Honor, 1893


The Court of Honor was the architectural showpiece of the exposition. At the right is the Columbian Fountain, designed by Frederick MacMonnies. Machinery Hall is visible behind it, and the Agricultural Building appears at the left. The ensemble of neoclassical palaces and Venetian waterways set a tone of imperial splendor and aesthetic sophistication, which Chicago's fair supporters hoped would counter the city's reputation as commercial center lacking in refinement and high culture.

See also: Tourism and Conventions; World's Columbian Exposition

Ferris Wheel, World's Columbian Exposition, 1893


The world's first Ferris Wheel was erected at the center of the Midway. Built on speculation by George W. Ferris, a bridge builder from Pittsburgh, the ride was the fair's most prominent engineering marvel. The wheel rose to 264 feet, surpassing the Eiffel Tower, and offering breathtaking views of the fair and the city. This lithograph, based on a watercolor painting by H. D. Nichols, is from a portfolio of prints that accompanied a deluxe edition of Hubert Howe Bancroft's The Book of the Fair .

See also: World's Columbian Exposition