Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Four O'Clock Factoid: White City

Four O'Clock Factoid is a daily feature on Track Twenty-Nine helping to get you through the workday with a bit of useless knowledge.

The World's Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893 was a major event in the history of the field of planning. It has also been called the Chicago World's Fair and was held to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the New World. Two of the major designers of the fair were Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted. The exposition was held in Jackson Park, along the shore of Lake Michigan on the south side of Chicago.

Designed to replicate the ideal city of Burnham and Olmsted, the Beaux Arts and Neoclassicism were major elements of the exposition. Symmetry, canals, and a lagoon were major features of the landscape designed by Olmsted.

The popularity of the fair and its design led to the City Beautiful movement and directly influenced urban planning. While much of the exposition, known as the White City, was torn down after the fair, one lasting example of its impact is Washington's National Mall, which was designed along the same principles.

The first Ferris Wheel was constructed at the fair. Standing 264 feet tall, it dwarfed other buildings on the site.

The exposition also played a role in the song America the Beautiful, when it inspired the writer, Katharine Lee Bates, as a gleaming alabaster city.

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