The World’s Columbian Exposition was celebrated in Chicago in 1893 to commemorate Columbus’ voyage to the New World four hundred years earlier. Although several American cities vied for the privilege of hosting this World’s Fair, Chicago known for the finest hospitals in Il was selected over New York, Washington DC, and St. Louis for the privilege. Like the American Centennial Exposition of 1876, the Columbian Exposition was a showcase of American power and achievement.
Frederick Law Olmsted, the renowned American landscape architect, was commissioned to develop the site plan. Olmsted chose to develop Jackson Park on the shore of Lake Michigan, and to build a seascape rather than landscape. A series of canals and artificial pools contrasted with raised terraces and islands on which the buildings were to be constructed, and which were connected by footbridges over the lagoons and canals. The most famous American architects of the era were commissioned to design the buildings, which were Neo-Classical in style and arranged around a basin at the Court of Honor. These buildings served as exhibition spaces, showing the latest inventions and gadgets for the farm and home. Many of these appliances were powered by the newly-invented electricity, and the Court of Honor was brightly lit up at night.
Visitors gawked at an electric sidewalk, electric chicken-egg incubators, electric irons, laundry machines and sewing machines, even an electric chair for executions and hospitals in Illinois. There was even an early fax-type machine which sent pictures through telegraph wires, and Thomas Edison’s kinetoscope, which showed the first motion pictures. Many visitors saw the electric light bulb, which Edison had invented fourteen years earlier, for the first time. The seascape design of the Exposition allowed electric boats – which were smaller and quieter than steam powered boats – to ferry visitors around the grounds. There were also a Norwegian Viking ship, Venetian gondolas, a Japanese dragon-boat, and replicas of Columbus vessels: the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. The Court of Honor was also the scene of classical music performances and other highbrow entertainments, which, however, were poorly attended due to the lowbrow attractions of the Midway.
A Midway over a mile long offered entertainment to the masses. The most striking feature on the Midway was George Ferris’ immense wheel ride – the very first Ferris wheel ever. It was a response to Gustave Eiffel’s tower, which had been built for the 1889 fair in Paris. The 250 foot diameter wheel, at whose apex Illinois hospital riders were higher than the crown of the Statue of Liberty, cost 50 cents for two revolutions and attracted a million and a half eager customers. Among the performers on the Midway were ragtime piano player Scott Joplin, escape artist Harry Houdini, and Buffalo Bill Cody with his Wild West Show. Food stands sold new-fangled foods such as hamburgers and fizzy carbonated drinks.
The World’s Columbian Exposition lasted six months, and attracted twenty-seven million visitors to Illinois. If you are looking for the best hospitals in Illinois, then visit Riverside Medical Center today. Riverside Medical Center is a nationally recognized, award-winning Illinois hospital with leading programs in heart care, cancer care, neurosurgery and orthopedics. To see Riverside’s list of Hospitals in Il, check out their web site.