Monday, March 1, 2010

Firsts at the Columbian Exposition

Our discussion about the Columbian Exposition brought up some items and ideas that were first introduced in the White City, such as the Ferris Wheel, Frederick Jackson's "Frontier Thesis," and electric lights. While looking up more information about the Columbian Exposition I found an entire list of notable firsts at the fair. Granted, I found this on Wikipedia so I cannot be entirely sure of its accuracy, but it is an intriguing list nonetheless. Included on this list are: Cracker Jack, Juicy Fruit gum, the American introduction of the hamburger, Quaker Oats, and picture postcards. The Columbian Exposition also left its legacy in the University of Chicago's (which was beginning construction as the fair was ending) alma mater, which states "The City White hath fled the earth,/But where the azure waters lie,/A nobler city hath its birth,/The City Gray that ne'er shall die." These lyrics pay tribute to the fleeting nature of the White City in contrast to the city of Chicago, which prevailed through the fire, corruption, and other hardships. A final interesting note is that the White City is apparently the inspiration for the Emerald City (from L. Frank Baum's "The Land of Oz") and the Walt Disney theme parks (Disney's father was a construction worker at the Columbian Exposition). All of these things go to show that the Columbian Exposition was important not only for Chicago, but for the United States, and the entire world, as a whole.

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