Tag Archives: Chicago World’s Fair 1893

1893 Fashions

1893 Evening Gown, designed by Charles Frederick Worth

1893 Evening Gown, designed by Charles Frederick Worth

Today I wanted to show some of the popular fashions in 1893.

This hat was documented to have been worn to the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago by Janet dePrie(?)

This hat was documented to have been worn to the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago by Janet dePrie(?)

Hat very similar to the green straw one, shown at top of page.

Hat very similar to the green straw one, above.

Photographer: Crane Arto, Waterbury, Connecticutt

Lillian Russell, circa 1893

Lillian Russell, circa 1893

Lillian Russell performed at the fair. This photo was taken by the “Newsboy” studio, New York. Notice the large vertical pom poms on her hat.

1893 Fashions

1893 Fashions

1893 Fashions

1893 Fashions

Victorian Fashions 1893

Victorian Fashions 1893

The photographs of the green straw hat, Lillian Russell and the one by Crane Arto are from the book Vintage Hats and Bonnets 1770-1970
by Susan Langley. I bought this book at the Textile Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts in 2004. They were having a wonderful exhibit of ladies hats. It was one of the best museum visits I’ve ever had.

The black and white illustrations are from the Dover Publication: Victorian Fashions, a Pictorial Archive, 965 Illustrations Selected and Arranged by Carol Belanger Grafton. My husband gave me this book for Christmas last year.

The Worth evening gown was “sky blue damask with a pattern of pink chrysanthemum petals, and layers of embroidered lace and tulle. The gown is festooned with a glarland of pearls and crystal. The hairdo was designed by Lentheric.” The illustration is by Tom Tierney and is from the Dover publication Victorian Fashion Designs. It includes a cd-rom. It was also a gift from my husband.

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Filed under 1893, 19th Century, Chicago, Fashion, Hats, History

1893 World’s Fair, Chicago

1893 Columbian Exposition, Chicago

1893 Columbian Exposition, Chicago

Did you ever wonder how so many of the things came about that we associate with America?  For instance: The Emerald City  in the Wizard of Oz, Disneyland, Hershey’s Chocolate, Ragtime music?

It started at the fair, the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, also known as The Columbian Exposition.

The French had held national exhibitions beginning in 1844, but the idea for the first world exposition came from Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband.  It was held in the Crystal Palace, Hyde Park, London in 1851. The Chicago fair marked the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the New World.

Last week I read Lynn Austin’s book,  A Proper Pursuit,  a novel set against the backdrop of the fair.  My curiosity was really piqued.  So I did a little research.  It was huge.  Built on 630 acres, it contained 3 miles of canals with gondolas and a replica Viking ship sailed across the ocean from Norway. and hosted more than 25 million visitors.  In fact once could arrive at the fair by boat and enter on a moving sidewalk.

Admission ticket to Chicago World's Fair, 1893

Admission ticket to Chicago World's Fair, 1893

Interesting facts:

Katherine Lee Bates was so impressed with her visit to the fair, that when she wrote her poem, America The Beautiful, she penned the phrase “alabaster cities” referring the the White City area.  Frank L. Baum patterned the Emerald City after visiting.  Walt Disney’s father worked on the construction.

George Ferris introduced his wheel (250 ft. high) and it was so popular, it saved the fair from bankruptcy.

Electric power was introduced to the American public.  The white stuccoed buildings reflected the electric lights and people referred to that area as The White City.  A 70 ft. tower of light bulbs was exhibited in the Electricity Building.

The term ‘Midway’ was first used.

Attractions included the first commercial movie theater.

Scott Joplin introduced the new Ragtime style of music.  Also on the music front, Little Egypt danced to a tune that is now very famous (you know the one, it’s used for snake charmers in the cartoons or kids on the playground sing “In a land called France…”).   It was an improvised tune, never copyrighted and now in the public domain.

Product firsts:
Hershey Bars, Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum, Cracker Jacks,  Cream-of-Wheat, Shredded Wheat, Quaker Oats, Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix.

The fair played a huge role in introducing America on the world stage. One of the most permanent legacies was the Beautiful City movement which sought to rectify the neglect of American cities.

Only 5 of the buildings survive today, only one at the original site.  Some were torn down.  As stunning as they were, they weren’t built to last.  Most of them were wood frame and a plaster mixture.  A fire in 1894 destroyed even some that had been slated to be made permanent.

Admission price:  50 cents.

You can learn more here. and see some great pictures on flickr.   .  The Wikipedia site is interesting, but be careful, because some of it is a little inaccurate.

Youtube has a 4 parts of a series about the fair, narrated by Gene Wilder. At the end, click on the next part in the sidebar at the right of the page. Part 5 (and possibly subsequent parts) seem to be missing at this time but the link gives information about where to purchase the DVD. *August 8, 2011 update: This video has been removed from youtube but this one is a 2 minuted narrated slideshow.

Also on youtube is another series. It’s unclear how many parts are available for viewing.

Youtube recording of Scott Joplin playing his piece “Maple Leaf Rag”. I can’t get this link to work, but if you type in Scott Joplin Maple Leaf Rag in the youtube search bar, this should be at the top of the list. It’s funny, because he plays it very fast. My husband loves to play Ragtime, and Joplin notes on his pieces to not play it fast; Ragtime is never played fast.


Filed under Chicago, History

Books Read in September

October! How lovely that sounds in north Texas. That means it’s very unlikely that we’ll have any more 100 degree days until next May.

So, I’m thinking about what I’ve been reading and need to get it written down. Every January, I start a list of books I read during that year, but towards the end of summer I get very lax in keeping it up.

Do you think we can tell something about a person by what they read? Whenever we go to someone’s house, I’m always fascinated by what books are on their shelves, or better yet on their end-tables.

Farewell by Horton Foote Farewell Memoir of a Texas Childhood- Horton Foote
This is probably my favorite autobiography. The world was a different place in 1916 when Horton Foote was born. He is a master storyteller and reading this book reminded me of listening to my parents and aunts and uncles talk about their early years (they were a bit older than Mr. Foote). He paints a vivid picture of small town life in the early part of the 1900’s.
*Highly recommended.

The Reagan I KnewThe Reagan I Knew – William F. Buckley
One of the last books that Buckley wrote before his death last year, this is a personal look at Ronald Reagan through correspondence and reminiscences.
*Highly recommended.

Losing Mum and PupLosing Mum and Pup – Christopher Buckley
“They were not – with respect to every other set of loving, wonderful parents in the world – your typical mom and dad.” What an understatement. Christopher Buckley is not my cup of tea, but he writes a fascinating book about one of the most fascinating men of the 20th century. William F. Buckley was a singular man; I just didn’t realize before how singular he really was.
*Highly recommended.

Making an exit coverMaking an Exit – Elinor Fuchs
Publisher’s Weekly: “Fuchs celebrates the richness and folly of life and language in this loving and often funny tribute to her nonconformist mother, Lillian Kessler.” After her brilliant mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Elinor began recording their conversations (how I wish I had done the same). Her insight into the disease and how she coped with it was very helpful to me in dealing with my own mother. Nearly all the books I’ve seen on Alzheimer’s are much too clinical and not terribly helpful. This is not a self-help book, but it had that effect.
*Highly recommended.

MrsAstorRegretsMrs. Astor Regrets Meryl Gordon
Let me say right up front that I don’t like Brooke Astor or anyone else in this book, with the possible exception of her grandson, the photographer Alex Marshall. Not even the author. Especially the author and the subject. Snobbery fairly drips from the pages. If Mrs. Astor isn’t referring to Bill Clinton’s objects of desire as “trailer trash”, then Meryl Gordon is describing someone as not coming from a house with a rusted pick-up on blocks in the front yard. And who are these people? Brooke Astor’s second husband didn’t like her only child, Tony, so he was promptly shipped off to boarding school. After her second husband’s death, she was proposed to by Vincent Astor (he was still married) and she absolutely married him for his money. The rest of her life seemed to be a struggle to buy a good name and position for herself and give as little as she could to her family. She hated her daughter-in-law and condemned her as a gold-digger. The DIL had cheated on her husband (the local vicar) with Tony and they married after each getting a divorce. What hypocrites. The author’s sympathies clearly lie with Tony’s oldest son, Phillip who sued his father for guardianship of Mrs. Astor. Pretty mean stuff for someone so proud of being a buddhist. Gordon doesn’t even seem to consider that Phillip’s motives look mercenary.
*Not recommended unless you want an inside look the vanity and debauchery of the upper class.


A Proper Pursuit A Proper Pursuit– Lynn Austin
Set in the Chicago area, 1893 this is a tale about a young woman learning that there’s more to the world than what she learned at finishing school. Austin humorously develops the character of Violet Hayes from a silly girl to a maturing woman. Set against the backdrop of The World’s Columbian Exposition (Chicago World’s Fair), as well as the impoverished life of immigrants, the author uses a good amount of history in the story. Her descriptions of the buildings at the fair prompted me to look up the photos on Flickr. It was amazing.
*Highly recommended as a well written, light Christian romance.

Still Reading

Green-Hell-coverGreen Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them – Steven Milloy
Very interesting. My husband follows his website on junk science. We’re reading this one aloud.

Against the Night Against the Night – Charles Colson
I found this one at the used book sale at the library. And I can’t write anything better about it than Larry Gott, who left this review on Amazon:
“5.0 out of 5 stars Most marked up book (next to the Bible), August 27, 2009
I have read this book twice, once when it came out in 1989, and once about 1998. I would mention that between the two readings, I lost my 1989 edition. However it was so marked up, it was hard to read the material for all the markings interposed. The 1998 copy I read mostly on an airplane (and marked it up again!).

In 1989, I thought it had the most substance of any ‘problem and solution’ book I had ever read. Colson was trying to be a ‘watchman on the wall’, and was warning us on what lay ahead if our nation, and the nation’s people (us), did not change our ways. The first half was diagnostic and prophetic (the problem), the second half was restorative and remedial (the solution).

By 1998, America, its people and its Christians were well down the road of what Colson was fearing. And now in 2009, we have arrived and have found ourselves in the middle of a giant mess. I’m going to reread it again, and see if the solutions might possibly still be valid. Highly recommended!”


Filed under Aging, Alzheimer's, Books, Fiction, Politics