Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fairgrounds Map and H.H. Holmes

After completing the reading on the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, I have found myself only increasingly interested in studying the history and make-up of the fair. It is difficult for me to imagine the sheer scale of the fair, physically, socially, and politically, in perspective to its growing significance as a quintessentially American city of its time. In researching the fair in an attempt to understand the physical size of the fair and spread of its attractions, I came across a website that includes both an interactive map of the fairgrounds with photos and information on the exhibits ( Additionally, the site includes an image gallery with photos from other World’s Fairs, important people involved with the Fair, the construction, the city of Chicago, and images from the fair itself.  

As I continued my research of the fair I came across an interesting snippet in an article that mentioned that America’s first serial killer, H. H. Holmes, as we recognize them today killed his victim during the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.  Holmes built Holmes’ Castle as a hotel for guests, primarily women, during the World’s Fair, however may of the women associated with him, both guests and employees, disappeared. It is believed that he burned many of the bodies and sold their skeletons to medical schools. While there is a bit of a morbid curiosity as to what drove Holmes to kill in such a gruesome manner, what is particularly interesting is considering these violent acts against the backdrop of the fair.  The White City stood to emulate progress and civilization in many ways not the least of which was through architecture, yet merely a couple miles away was a man who used his civilized demeanor and creative architecture, sliding walls, gas pipes, vents, and peep holes, but for villainous means. For anyone interesting in the story, I have included the link to Holmes’ story ( The stark contrast of the fair against Holmes’ crimes invites a commentary on the social nature of the Chicago Fair at the time and the image of civilized social order the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 was designed to present to the world.

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