Erik Larson's "The Devil in The White City"

The Construction of The White City:

A Closer Look at The 1893 Columbian Exposition's Construction





"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty." 4

-D.H. Burnham

*This quote was taken from speech made by main architect Daniel Burnham as he addressed the construction workers prior to the groundbreaking (start) of the construction period.


.::The White City::.


With all of the meaningful social and economic values shown through The Chicago World's Fair in 1893, one aspect which is not equally publicized or exposed is the fair from the viewpoint of the actual creators of the wonderland-The Construction Workers. The estimated 12,000 workmen worked around the clock to create not only an amusement park, but a sort of snapshot of the “American Experience”. With a budget almost half the size of the rival Paris Expo, the architects, building managers and construction workers set out to upstage the Paris Exposition and show that Chicago was the correct choice of venue (New York and St. Louis were also considered). The ensuing opening of the fair proved to live up to its billing, as the collaboration of workers, architects and engineers used numerous innovative techniques in order to build and maintain what could be considered the greatest single fair off all time.



"The White City , origin of the "City Beautiful" movement in the United States , represents an unprecedented collaboration of artists, architects, engineers, sculptors, painters, and landscape architects who joined forces to create a single work - an ideal model city. The White City truly was the largest single common artistic undertaking ever. To preserve harmony in this ideal city, some general guidelines were given to artists and architects. Within these guidelines, they had wide latitude on the creation of the final product. One standard was that the cornice height was always to be 60 feet. Another was that the buildings should be within the Classical style. The dominant Classical themes were Roman Imperial and Greek. Roman Imperial themes were especially prevalent, manifested in the many domes, arches, and arcades. For the grand celebration of a republic, it is interesting to note the lack of Roman Republican influences in the architectural style. The underlying themes of the White City , the true main exhibition of the fair, were scale , harmony , and ensemble . The style is known most commonly as the Beaux Arts style, as the architects who designed the exposition were trained at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris , France ." 1




























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