1893: the destruction of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago


Well-known member
I am absolutely blown away by those photographs of the World Fair. All that was supposed to be temporary?? NOBODY goes to that much trouble for a fair, no matter how world-oriented it may be. That's not a fair grounds, that's an entire city! Who builds a city with the intention of tearing it all down later? What an incredible waste of money that would be, and nobody protested? No images of actual construction, only what appears to be reconstruction of what is already there. No images of it being demolished, even though it was meant to be temporary and you'd think lots of people would hang around to watch the demolition (and maybe grab some souvenirs while they were at it). No blueprints existing for anything. It's all highly suspicious.


Well-known member
Was hunting for info about what Chicago looked like prior to the 1893 Expo and found this site of Uncovering Forgotten Chicago Through Research and Events: Forgotten Chicago/History, Architecture and Infrastructure. I was particularly interested in what the grounds and surrounding area looked like before "construction" of the Expo and found that this magazine relates all sorts of historical info about Chicago including information from before the Civil War.
Several interesting tidbits:
1) Apparently the area on which the Expo was built had decades-old abandoned streets (at the time of the great depression-so right around the time and preceding the time of the Expo).
2) In 1948 a time capsule to be opened in 2048 was dedicated and now no one seems to know the exact location of the time capsule. 1948 isn't that long ago and we've already forgotten where we put it?
3) Wolf Point Tavern (considered the oldest building in Chicago) at Kinzie and Orleans Streets, was inexplicably torn down in 1933 for a parking lot.
4) "A soldout group joined Forgotten Chicgo on Sunday, June 4, 2016 for what may have been the first-ever comprehensive tour of the enormous redevelopment site to the southwest of where the Chicago River and Lake Michigan meet, Illinois Center and the New Eastside. Easily one of the most high-profile urban redevelopment projects in North America, planning for this site began nearly 100 years ago, with parcels of empty land still remaining in 2016. The tour included a visit to all three levels of East Randolph Street, including its curious “Tennis Stadium” sign as seen above left, as well as decades-old remnants of the site’s former use as an enormous Illinois Central rail yard from before the Civil War until the 1990s, above right." **click the link to see pics*** (I find it curious that as of 2016 they were still in the planning stage that began 100 years earlier for this site, yet something as magnificent as the World Expo could be planned and executed in so short a time). It took 10 years just to repair the damage done to a single building (the White House) after the Brits burned it in 1814 yet an entire city can be constructed complete with bridges and canals, statues, frescoes, domes as well as all the exhibits hauled in and arranged for display in so short a time.
5) The Expo building known as the Woman's Building was already on the site as a former Country Club.

It's years of history and lots of pics on the site and I haven't had time to go through all of it yet but I'd say it's worth a gander.
Post automatically merged:

Also, a source for old maps of Chicago (not sure how they got aerial views) and their reference markers in the Library of Congress. I found it interesting that the one for 1893 is a "perspective" map and admits to having been altered/modified.

Also, info on Jackson Park (site of Expo) and of the Architecture/Field Museum which after only 12 years in existence was "in dire need of repair". The foundation alone took 1 year to complete and goes down 95 feet in some places. How a building made of marble can be in dire need of repair after only 12 years is a mystery to me. My tin can mobile home in tornado-prone Oklahoma is older than that and is only in need of minor, cosmetic repairs. If just the foundation took a year to repair, it makes me wonder how over 5000 entire buildings got slapped up in Seattle in so short a time.
Last edited:


Well-known member
Spent some time in Crystal Bridges Art Museum yesterday, thought I'd post one of the pieces in their collection.


Title: World's Columbian Exposition
Artist: Theodore Robinson (1852 - 1896)
Date: 1894
25 × 30 in. (63.5 × 76.2 cm)
Framed: 35 in. × 40 in. × 3 1/2 in.
Medium: Oil on canvas
I should also mention, if it matters, that this museum is fully funded and owned by The Waltons, of Walmart fame. Can't really shake a stick around this area without accidentally hitting something funded by the Waltons.

Found some interesting breadcrumbs on this painter, also.

Theodore Robinson:
Robinson was born in Irasburg, Vermont. His family moved to Evansville, Wisconsin, and Robinson briefly studied art in Chicago. In 1874 he journeyed to New York City to attend classes at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League.

In 1876 he traveled to Paris to study under Carolus-Duran and at the École des Beaux-Arts, with Jean-Léon Gérôme. He first exhibited his paintings at the 1877 Salon in Paris, and spent the summer of that year at Grez-sur-Loing.

After trips to Venice and Bologna, he returned to the United States in 1879 for several years. In 1881 he moves into a studio in New York and becomes a professional painter and art teacher. During this time Robinson painted in a realist manner, loosely brushed but not yet impressionistic, often depicting people engaged in quiet domestic or agrarian pursuits.
Ecole des Beaux-Arts, eh? Where have I heard that one before?

Oh yeah, our architect friend, George Cary who was allegedly responsible for the design of the Buffalo Expo of 1901
Cary attended and graduated from Harvard and the Columbia School of Architecture. After graduating from Columbia, Cary spent a brief apprenticeship with McKim, Mead and White in New York City. Directly after that, he went to Paris and studied at the L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts from 1886 until 1889, the first Buffalonian to do so.
École des Beaux-Arts
École des Beaux-Arts is one of a number of influential art schools in France. The most famous is the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, now located on the left bank in Paris, across the Seine from the Louvre, at 14 rue Bonaparte (in the 6th arrondissement). The school has a history spanning more than 350 years, training many of the great artists in Europe. Beaux Arts style was modeled on classical "antiquities", preserving these idealized forms and passing the style on to future generations.

Look familiar to anyone? Pretty sure their Wiki page is just copypasta from r/tartarianarchitecture:ROFLMAO:

I think that if one were to attempt to search for organizations responsible for taking credit for these works, it would start with this school in Paris. This will likely become its own thread soon as this little discovery is what I would consider "probable cause" for more research.


Well-known member
It might be slow at the moment, but the wake up process is moving forward.

Cool little video it is. Nothing too fancy, yet it is definitely worth watching. Right questions are being asked.

Watched most of the guys videos during the last days. Was surprised he asked lots of questions I had in mind, but had never seen it brought up anywhere before. Things are moving forwards indeed. I think he has a profound level of understanding and awareness.


That image looks like 90% drawing and 10% photograph; the buildings and even the people have a 'drawing' like quality to them. The dirt mounds, posts, water, and the bridge in the bottom left corner appear to be photographic though. I have some high quality 'photographs' of family that date back to this period (maybe a little earlier) and I swear they are actually paintings and not drawings.

Something interesting I would point out is that those flags in the video at roughly 1:20 appear edited in as they are translucent, you can clearly see through them. It is a common method in art to paint in layers, although you generally start with black and progressively work up to the lightest shade to avoid the appearance of translucency. Anyone could easily, with great care, add those flags in after the photo was actually taken.
Last edited:


Active member
Last edited:


Well-known member
That image looks like 90% drawing and 10% photograph; the buildings and even the people have a 'drawing' like quality to them.
I think the dome scaffolding seems pretty far-fetched. How did they get up there to build that dome? I get that we had cranes and ladders but that spider web of lattice is terribly impressive.

I just wonder if anyone looked around and said "so... tell me again, we are going to build this and then take it down?". I guess if you are just looking for a paycheck, you don't ask questions.


New member
How did they go about physically destroying the dozens of these huge Chicago Fair edifices? Did they have access to ball-and-chain wrecking cranes and compressed-air jack hammers in that era?

Could it realistically have been totally erased by scores of strong-armed men equipped with just 10lb sledge hammers?

In what year did the demolition commence and end, and where was the vast tonnage of rubble, debris and masonry disposed of in the era before dump trucks?
Post automatically merged:

How did they even landscape the fair's 700 acre area to perfection so quickly in 2 years? Modern landscapers say that even today, with modern machinery, it would take them 20 years just for the land, lagoons and canals, let alone all the complex architecture!


1. The Chicago Fair was must older than 2 years.

2. There were many thousands of very strong and very skilled men working on it.

3. Demonic/Angelic/Divine/Magical assistance was involved cf. Moses assembling the Tabernacle by himself in the Wilderness, or the future Third Temple descending ready made from Heaven!
Last edited: