The Golden Lady

Statue of the Republic Chicagoundefined

Written By JPAC

The Jackson Park Advisory Council (JPAC) is the body that monitors the park, represents the community and advises the Chicago Park District. We hold the district accountable for stewardship and preserve the park’s historic character and special natural areas.

In 1890, this burgeoning city on Lake Michigan was named the host city for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. By early 1891, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted had begun converting mosquito-invested swamps and swales into handsome parkland solid enough to more than 220 buildings, almost all of which were constructed of iron or wood frames covered with a mix of plaster, cement, and plant fiber.

Spray-painted white, this vast array of Beaux-Arts buildings became the legendary White City of fact and fiction. At the center of the Fair was the delicately landscaped Wooded Island where visitors could escape the hurly-burly of the Fair by strolling bowers of green and enjoying boat rides on the lagoons.  

More than 26 million visitors from all over the world passed through the Fair’s gates between May 1 and October 31m 1893. Most visitors rode to the top of the 265-foot-tall Ferris Wheel on Midway Plaisance. After the Fair closed, almost all buildings either were razed or destroyed by fire. The Palace of Fine Arts, sturdily-built and fireproof, was the only remaining structure of significance. In the early 1930s, with the support of wealthy businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, this handsome building was converted into the world-famous Museum of Science and Industry.

Cover image courtesy of: Chicago Park District Special Collections

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