Columbian Exposition – The Midway Plaisance at Night
The exotic and unusual at Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair.
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Visitors to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, known alternatively as the Columbian Exposition, would have been amazed by the architectural design and splendor of the White City. Immediately adjacent was the Midway Plaisance, home to some of the more colorful aspects of the fair.
It was designed to be a cultural commentary on human development, with exhibits highlighting ‘primitive’ and foreign nations as opposed to those ‘civilized’ nations that displayed in the White City. In addition to exotic belly dancers, Bedouin tribesmen, and remote Pacific Islanders, the Midway Plaisance contained games of chance, food vendors, shopping booths, and the iconic Ferris Wheel.
This colorful view, issued in Harper’s Weekly, shows the area at night, lit by electric lamps. The Midway was open long after the main gates of the Exposition had closed – often until 2 or 3 am. All manners of dress are shown, along with a variety of global architecture. The Ferris Wheel dominates the background, with its 36 glittering cars each capable of carrying up to 60 passengers during the twenty-minute ride (two rotations).
Publication Date: 1893
Author: Harper's Weekly
Sheet Width (in): 21.6
Sheet Height (in): 15.7
Condition Description: Somewhat brittle paper has a few binding holes along centerfold that have been reinforced with old paper repairs. A few small tears confined to the margin have been repaired on the verso with archival tape, and a bit of creasing and wear visible at the top and bottom center.
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