Chicago World’s Fair – the 1893 Columbian Exposition

Chicago World’s Fair – the 1893 Columbian Exposition

The World’s Columbian Exposition was a world’s fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World in 1492. The centerpiece of the Fair, held in Jackson Park, was a large water pool representing Columbus’ voyage to the New World.

These scans are Volume 8 of the pamphlet series, The Dream City: A Portfolio of Photographic Views of the World’s Columbian Exposition. I also bought Volume 10, thinking that this was the St. Louis World’s Fair (the Louisiana Purchase Exposition), but that’s what I get for being on eBay too late at night.

This photographic volume starts out:

“NEVER. since the first gray dawn of time, has there been such a collection, of genius, such an assembly of the Master Spirits of the world, as that brought together by the grandest civic event in history, known as THE WORLD’S COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION. Here was a ‘Spectacle of the Centuries .” the wondrous beauty is of which have I a heralded to the ends of the earth, whose like men now living may never hope to see again. All of the highest and best achievements of modern civilization; all that was strange, beautiful,
artistic and inspiring; a vast and wonderful university of the arts and sciences, teaching a noble lesson in history, art, science, discovery and invention, designed to stimulate the youth of this and future generations to greater. and more heroic endeavor.

In contemplating the surprising combination of genius, enterprise and extravagance that alone produced this “Miracle of the Centuries,” thousands and hundreds of thousands have been saddened by the thought ephemeral character. “We shall not look upon its like again” has been the utterance of their admiration and regret. Its towers, and pyramids, and pinnacles, which have been admired by reverential millions, will fade from existence. The great buildings which seem too grandly beautiful for reality may be razed; the Colonnade and Peristyle must perish ; Obelisk and Dome, Sculpture and Mural Decoration must pass away.

The question is, how best to secure and preserve for the people the fullest, and most permanent results from the lessons it. teaches. We know how quickly vanish scenes caught by the eye and preserved only by the memory. Some safer receptacle must be found, or, great as the beneficial influences of this grandest of civic displays, the larger part of its benefits will be lost.

It is the purpose of this ‘Portfolio of Photographic Views” to furnish such a receptacle, in a form at once portable, beautiful and permanent, for present use and future preservation. In its pages will be presented all the FEATURES OF THE FAIR – artistic and industrial, paintings and statuary, with interesting descriptions of the marvelous exhibits of the United States and Foreign Nations. Pictures alone, however beautiful, however necessary to the imparting of knowledge, are not of themselves sufficient; the intellect as well as the eye must be reached. The best talents of both author and artist are required, that what the mind receives through the eye may be impressed upon the understanding.

For the entertainment and instruction of the young- this book is especially sent forth; such a book in the family is an object lesson, a work of perpetual interest, in its influence more wide-reaching and lasting the Fair itself It, is at once a Souvenir- for the millions who attended the exhibition as a record of what they saw. and the exhibition itself for the millions who did not see it.”

You can see the full collection, probably scanned better, on

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