Cronon starts by giving an account of driving through Chicago as a child, and how he felt that it was ugly, polluted, and “alien” compared to the rural midwest, and grew to despise it. As he got older, he started to question why he saw rural areas as 'natural' and the city as 'unnatural' because he started to notice that human impact was deeply rooted in farmlands just as much as the city. He realized that the notion of city and country as completely separate places was completely fabricated by his feelings about the two places, and though they are separate they rely on each other to exist.
Cronon explains his love of nature and the countryside, and his dislike for the city. He then goes on to talk about how the city and country blur together, and do not have the sharp boundaries he remembers as a child. He then talks about how both the city and countryside have reshaped each other. He then starts to question if the country can survive without a city? They both use each other in different ways.
He then goes on to discuss how scholars have studied Chicago in the past. He first mentions Garland and his fear of the city. He saw it as a destruction of nature, but came to embrace it as a sort of “natural power” in itself. Sullivan, on the other hand, loved the city, and thought that its existence was made possible by the nonhuman power of nature. He saw the city as man's reworking of nature to express 'human spirit,' not the destruction of it. Herrick takes this love for urbanity a step further in his depiction of urban growth from the outskirts of the city to the heart. He argues that Chicago has completely liberated itself from the natural world, and is excited about man's triumph. Herrick's view also implements the idea of a binary between man (masculine) and nature (feminine), which Cronon states is more idealistic than real. Cronon claims that all accounts of the city share the problematic assumption that rural and urban are seperate, which is a Western way of thinking.
An argumentative theme in Cronon's Nature's Metropolis is the idea of nature. Cronon argues that nature must be split into two forms: first nature and second nature. First nature is pre-human contact; literally how the world stood after the glaciers melted. It is the purest form of nature and the most commonly associated with the term “nature”. What Cronon is introducing to the discipline is second nature: artificial nature created by humans which interacts with first nature. An example of second nature would be canal systems; by connecting first nature elements (rivers) through second nature means (forcible maneuvering of water via canals), both forms of nature can exist together. This argument of the two different forms of nature is felt throughout Cronon's piece: a symbiotic relationship between the city and the country; the connection between first and second nature. He argues that the formation of cities is dependent on the formation of cities and vice versa: both areas bring forth unique and valuable social and economic possibilities. -K. Eastridge
Chicago's first nature was once marshlands. When it was thought to become a huge city changed it's nature. They raised the houses and filled in the wetlands, which made it a more viable city. One could make the argument that Chicago is completely a second nature product, even it's location. -Gianna Banish
In the beginning of his book, Cronon notes that the city and the country are dependent, and even essential to one another. Not only do they help to define the boundaries and characteristics of what is city or country; but they give each other purpose. The country has characteristics that the city does not, for example raw materials, and vice versa. The materialistic connections are important, with the buying and selling of goods between the two areas. Cronon states the importance of realizing the relationship between the two areas. -Mariah Morton
In chapter 1, Cronon starts out with the land, precursor to the city. It was a gathering place, distinguished for the wild garlic plants. The river was the first thing to define Chicago’s location and was a way into the interior. The ridge was not just a boundary between watersheds but indicative of the natural history of the area-the glaciers-that made the area flat, fertile, and gave the land its waterways. The Indians signed their last claims to the area in 1833 and the dream of Chicago becoming metropolitan was cast.
Before this, the Americans reordered the land through conquest. Chicago was a mix of Indian, French, British, and American cultures in a large trade network using a mixture of Indian and European land practices. By 1830, Illinois was a state, lead mining emerged to the west, and Indians and traders were no longer central to their economy. Yet, the Potawatomis still controlled the land around Chicago and life continued like it did in past years. However, in 1832, a group of Indians led by Sac chief Black Hawk crossed the Mississippi to reclaim land in western Illinois that was lost to the US under a doubtfully-legal treaty in 1804. Black Chief believed that land could not be sold. The last significant uprising of Indians in Illinois, the band fled from the twice as large US military force, with the final defeat happening at the Battle of Bad Axe. Soldiers sent back that the Illinois lands were fertile, and Chicago’s population doubled by spring 1833, with the biggest demographic in Chicago and the surrounding area now American townspeople. The United States government started consolidating land and conducting treaties with the Potawatomis, gaining their land. Encamping in Chicago, they signed two final treaties in September 1833 and the Indians were exiled to the far side of Mississippi. The next three years, the village grew, the real estate became highly valued, and intense land speculation took place with wild hopes. The bubble burst in 1837 and the real estate market collapsed, with business and growth almost slowing to a stop. It was still a rather undeveloped frontier community. -Francesca Maisano
Cronon gives us the point earlier that the land and the city can't survive without each other. The heavy dependency on Chicagoians had on railroad in terms of trade and transportation deemed useful as more of the west was being settled. Railroads engineers faced difficulties planning tracks throughout the variations of geography.
Although Chicago seemed to be set up well to serve as a major city to the west, there were still obstacles to overcome. The Chicago River in the 1830s was described as, “a sluggish, slimy stream, too lazy to clean itself.” (33) This would eventually cause the city council to issue ordinances to physically raise the city anywhere from 4 to 14 feet. (58) Even with these initial difficulties, Chicago had two major early advantages, it’s harbor and its location near the Mississippi watersheds of the West. When the Illinois and Michigan canal finally opened, 22 years after ground was initially broken, commerce from the east and now from the west would follow a similar path through Chicago. J. Binns
Booster theories fell into three broad categories 1. All resources of the region would center it trad on the city. 2. Transportation routes would guide resources to their natural marketplaces. 3. Mysteriously, global climatic forces would create great urban centers in America. These centers were described for their benefits fertile soil, mines, coal fields, forests of timber, etc. Deborah Hunnel
In this chapter Cronon mentions that Chicago was in prime location. Being surrounded by the Great Lakes, prairies, and eastern forests, the city is able to supply and transport goods from many areas. White Pines, Oak-Hickory forests, and other hardwood and softwood trees, allowed for lumber to be sold and transported throughout the city. Another commodity that the city was able to transport was grain from the surrounding areas. Cronon writes that the main objective for cities such as Chicago, was to operate as a marketplace for their region. -Mariah Morton
Croons Chapter 2 goes over the transportation of rails and water. Water to croons was a good source of transportation because of the canals in which he mentions how the Erie Canal and the Hudson River provided a good access for markets (60). With transportation Croons also mentioned first and second nature. First nature being the environmental way of the land and second nature being the man-made part of the land (56). Railroads had also became another popular source of transportation in which they moved goods faster to different areas. The railroads became popular and they often competed against water base competition’s (74). Not only did railroads change the role of transportation but how America tell time. The railroads impose what we have today as the North America “standard“ time. (79). The standard times was put in place on November 18, 1883(79). The main goals of standard times was to decrease the number of accidents while transporting goods. – Jasmine Williams
In this chapter, Cronon breaks down how Chicago would use its geographical location to exploit the waterways and eventual railroads that would sprawl from all directions entering and leaving Chicago. Initially, waterways were the main mode of transport, with the Eerie canal allowing access to New York and eastern markets as well as international markets. One of the lesser know import aspects of this water transport was the creation of the Illinois – Michigan canal, which would expand Chicago’s hinterland southward to the Mississippi River and St. Louis. J.Binns
Cronon talks about how the new harbor in Chicago was a huge benefit for them. Bigger ships were able to make their way up the river, but the sand kept building up. By the 1840s the pier went far out into the lake, and the “natural” harbor was finally finished and a huge plus for Chicago in transporting goods. Roads in Chicago were a little different, they weren't the best way to transport goods. Farmers used them to bring crops and produce to the city during harvest season.
Railroads made Chicago the most important transportation hub between east and west. They allowed goods to be moved from both to Chicago as a destination and through Chicago as a weigh point to there destinations farther east. The railroads enabled the cycle of growth to occur more quickly than nature would have alone. Deborah Hunnel
Water and railroads are what really allowed Chicago to become a powerhouse city in the Midwest. With easy, accessible transportation, goods could move easily in and out of Chicago for relatively low prices, meaning that anyone who had anything to buy or sell in the Midwest was doing it in Chicago. With so much activity, Chicago grew and grew both physically, economically, and demographically, eventually becoming one of the biggest cities in the U.S.. e.m.
The introduction of railways into the areas surrounding Chicago held a great social impact. Traveling was no longer dictated by weather and season as strongly as it was with water transportation and basic road transportation. As railroads grew larger and more advanced, consumers could travel whenever they wanted to and they could travel at faster speeds than before. The importance of railroads goes beyond the individual's travel experiences: Chicago has now become an urban hub due to its location on the railways. Connecting the western territories to the ever-growing New York and the Atlantic global trade, Chicago is now the conductor of raw materials being transported to factories and manufactured products entering rural areas. This is also a great example of Cronon's second nature idea: through the creation of the Erie Canal, Chicago become the spot between western and eastern sales. -K.Eastridge
River transportation, in the sense that the sale of wheat was improved and profit increased, was one of the most significant factors in the manufacturing process for wheat farmers. Without the steam-powered boats, the time it would take to transport the product from the farmers to the market to the buyer would be quite lengthy. –Theophilus Felder
Cronon talks about the disadvantages that the city faced especially when it came to issues such as transportation. An ironic issue being shipping through waterways, which would be considered one of their greatest advantages. The problem would arise when the city was going through its hot-cold, wet-dry cycle, which caused transportation and trade to vary. In the winter the city lost its opportunity to ship via waterways due to ice and snow. Merchants were not able to do business with eastern cities between November and May. The roads surrounding the city also struggled in the wet season, which in turn meant that those areas struggled doing business at that time. Even with all of its advantages and benefits, the city still had problems to face. -Mariah Morton
In chapter 3, “Pricing the Future,” Cronon begins by discussing railroads and their role in turning prairies into farms. Cronon states that trains themselves were not the sole reason for urban development, rather they crossed the rural/urban boundaries, connecting the two “worlds” in a vital way. He refers to Chicago as a grand “country fair” in that farmers and rural-dwellers bring their goods to its markets, growing the economy and attracting migrants.
Cronon mentions the difficulty of planting wheat, and the fragileness of plant made it difficult for farmers every season to make a profit. Timing the planting was also an issue that farmers faced, as the Midwest winter would take a toll on many crops planted. The mechanical reaper proved to be solution for many trying to make a living.
In Chapter 3 Cronon explains the change in grain from a physical good to an ever-flowing commodity stream. The process he describes well when he speaks to a sacks journey when before the railroad's individual sacks of grain were physically brought by road or water to the buyer or intermediary and payment was received for that individual bag of grain. The railroad would change all of this by allowing rural markets to reach urban markets. This with the addition of the creation of the grain elevator would remove grain from the sacks to which they were once confined and open up new markets to the west. J.Binns
Euroamerican farmers began to grow corn on a much larger scale than the Native Americans did, and since it grew in such abundance they used it to convert into alcohol and livestock in addition to eating some of it. In addition to corn, farmers grew other vegetable and grain crops that were not native to the frontier, finding new ways to refine and improve their harvest. In order to plant these new crops in dense grasslands, farmers had to adopt new technologies such as the steel plow and often employed “prairie breakers” to turn the prairies into usable farmland. Cash crops, namely corn and wheat, overtook the native vegetation because of their versatility, ability to grow, and market value. Cronon also mentions that wheat is much more difficult to grow than corn, so farmers often grew more than one kind of grain and were quick to buy mechanical reapers from Chicago in the 1840s-50s.
To organize the different fields, crops, and animals, farming families had to build man-made structures such as barns and fencing, In addition, they had to adjust to the environment by mowing, plowing, and creating “firebreaks” to protect their land. Cronon says these developments are the “most visible symbols of second nature.” Farmers also relied on wooded areas for lumber and settled closely to the forested areas, however as more farms populated the area farmers had to begin buying lumber from Chicago. These land modifications and man-made barriers mirrored the American property system that divided the grasslands into a grid, making the frontier ownable and marketable.
In this chapter, Cronon talks about the farmers in the beginning of the chapter. How they focused on corn as the main crop of choice, they ate themselves, made whiskey with it, or fed it to other farm animals. With the increase in human technology wheat, oats, and rye became more popular. The farmers started having larger plots of land, and they had to work with the soil and use plows and animals to help seed and grow the crops.
Grain develops from an individual crop grown and sold on a small scale by individual farmers to a large scale commodity where it is bought and sold through the Chicago Board of Trade. The process develops from selling an individual sack of grain to selling the quality and type of grain produced. The ability to store and ship large amounts of grain lowering the labor involved results in more profitable crops. Deborah Hunnel
Grain fundamentally changed the way consumerism in America was run. With the implementation of the grain elevator and the Chicago Board of Trade, people all around America now sold Grain at prices set in Chicago. If the price went up in Chicago, the price went up everywhere else, if it went down, it went down. People began trading in the Futures market, which also changed the way trade was run across the U.S. with the help of the telegraph. -e.m.
The train and the grain elevator were crucial to transforming wheat from a natural product to a commodity; from a solid to a liquid. In Chicago’s early years, grain was handled in discrete units, sacks, which preserved the uniqueness of individual products. The advent of the train allowed grain from a much wider swath of territory to enter the city. To handle the newly bolstered influx of grain, a new transportation technology was needed: the grain elevator. The grain elevator allowed the use of mechanical labor instead of human, thus, reducing the costs involved in transportation. The structure of the grain elevator, which consisted of a few large silos, facilitated the commodification of grain by forcing grain from different batches to be mixed together. Grain from different individual farms was now sorted into broad categories which denoted quality instead of being appraised for quality on a case by case basis. The final step in the commodification of grain was the bank like structure of grain elevators. Because grain was mixed together in the silos, upon deposit a receipt for the withdrawal of the weight of whatever quality of grain was deposited was given out. A speculative market soon developed where people traded these representations of grain for profit without touching any of the actual product itself. -Jason Elms
In Chapter 4, Cronon talks about how other rural products entered Chicago, such as lumber and livestock. Chicago had the greatest reach of the western cities, trading commodities with the majority of the Great West, and transformed shipments into capital. Karl Marx called this “self-expanding value”, whereas “produced” value was by human labor and was part of “intrinsic value.” This is the labor theory of value, where worth was gained because of human labor. However, Chicago’s growth, and the commodities, were also impacted by first nature- nature’s wealth: stored sunshine. Despite Turner’s thesis largely being inaccurate, his “frontier” conditions were part of Chicago’s success, as the abundance of resources outweighed the effort to get them. Like in nature, where there are consumers and producers, humans “consume” natural resources, setting aside some as capital, and “producing” commodities such as lumber. -Francesca Maisano
Croons Chapter four on Lumber went over the importance of lumber and how it was operated. Croons put a focus on in 1848 with the opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal (155). Focusing on the Canals shows how the lumber industry benefited from having more lumber receipts and a good source of supply and demand (155). Logging just like grain had a season to be collected and for lumber that was in the winter during the months of November and December (155). The lumber workforce was made up of people from New England, French Canadians, British immigrants and later on lumber had the influence of people coming over from Northern Europe, with Germans, Irishmen, and Scandinavians( 155). – Jasmine Williams
Cronon mentions that lumber was helpful to the railroad industry and implies that they had a symbiotic relationship. Railroad investors didn’t want to send empty cars back to the west because they would have been operating at a loss. The relationship became beneficial to both when the railroad’s need to fill cars created a discounted rate for lumber traders. Which soldified Chicago has a hub for trading by railroad. -Gianna Banish
With chapter four covering lumber Croons also talks about the downfall of the lumber business. Disaster was prone to the lumber industry damage that was so bad that it could cause bankruptcy. Croons mentions how the mills were prone to catch on fire (166). Capitalization from lumber was a problem with most lumberman during this time being under-capitalized. The lumber industry had fixed capital which was defined as the machinery, land and mills, but another problem that was being faced was the liquid capital that needed to turn trees into lumber in order to make a profit (166). – Jasmine Williams
Lumber, like grain, flowed through Chicago because of the accessibility of transportation both into Chicago to be sold, and out of Chicago to the buyers. With waterways making the trip South to Chicago from the northern, forested regions which harvested to the lumber, and railroads out into the prairie where the demand for lumber was high. While lumber might not have been as important as grain, it still helped shape the Chicago economy and expand Chicago’s power. e.m.
However, Lumber was not as commodified as grain was. It was partially commodified through not having to inspect the actual tree, bbut being able to order a specific size and type of lumber at a fixed price. -Gianna Banish
Whole grain elevators and lumber yards’ important might have been easily missed or overlooked, the importance of stockyards couldn’t be overlooked. Visitors, despite the overall gore filled environment, would visit the stockyards and be amazed at how “efficient, so calculating, and cold-blooded” the killing of animals had become (Cronon 208). Hogs became a very important commodity, as they are “sent to Chicago as a package provided by nature for its utilization” (Cronon 209). The earliest boarding house was built in 1837 by Willard F Myrick, and it included a pasture where hogs and cattle could eat hay before being butchered. Many stockyards like Myrick’s yard, Bull’s head, and Sherman Yards had hotels and saloons attached to them so visitors could stay and participate in the transactions in more ways than just buying products. The congestion of cities created an issue with stockyards as they became surrounded by factories and houses. This eventually cut off the supply of hay and reduced the amount of grazing land for the stockyards. The railroads became the solution to this problem as they allowed a singular, major stockyard to be created outside of Chicago city limits. This allowed the actual animals themselves to be removed from the city, while still allowing Chicago to be the meat packing center of the United States. -Morgan Gilbert
Slaughtering the Bison
Tallgrass prairie was almost completely destroyed by the creation of the city of Chicago and the plowing of fields for agricultural purposes around the city. Wildfires played a major role in this because, without them, the grasses wouldn't receive the nutrients that they need to grow healthier and stronger. While some wildfires still occurred, the amount was drastically diminished and therefore tall prairie grass was almost eradicated from the area around the city. While prairies further away from Chicago became a mixture of short and tall prairie grass, some people living further away from Chicago found these mixed primaries to be a wonderful habitat to raise domesticated, grazing animals. However, in order to do so, the native inhabitants, both humans, and animals had to be removed. One of the populations that were harshly impacted was the natural population of American Bisons. At the beginning of the 19th century, there were anywhere between 20 to 40 million that lived in herds of roughly 50 to 200 animals. Visitors to the West were often amazed at the sheer amount of them. As more railroad was pace in their natural habitat, more Bison died because people had better access to them. While some hunted to actually use the materials provided by the Bison, some passengers would should Bison from trains passing by and leave the bodies to rot in the fields. After the Bison population diminished, the Native Americans would not only lose their land but also lose the resources, the herds of Bison, that they had previously relied on. -Morgan Gilbert
Meat packing companies made much profit as mentioned in this chapter. Corporation begins to take big role, even throughout the gilded age. Soon, many big businesses were being seeded in Chicago which would have a long term effect in terms of Chicago becoming a major economic player in the U.S.
The meat industry in Chicago underwent a similar commodification process as wheat did. The introduction of harvested lake ice for the cooling of trains and packing facilities allowed the meat packing industry to expand the types of meat which could be packed and shipped to foreign markets as well as allowing the industry to operate year around. The change was especially profound for beef because Americans preferred to eat their steak fresh and unpreserved. Now that it could be prepared on mass before being shipped out to the consumer, the same type of classification system that had been applied to grain could be applied to meat as well. Although meat was commodified, the commodification was not as complete as grain. The livestock themselves still maintained the qualities of discrete units with variable qualities, such as weight, so the full commodification could not take place between sellers and buyers of livestock, only products the livestock were broken down into. -Jason Elms
Open Ranges and Feed Lot-After the bison were nearly all exterminated from the land, people started to have new animal-horses, sheep, and longhorn cattle-to replace the bison and utilize the fertile grasslands. The demand was greatest in the North, so, if ranchers could get their cattle to Chicago’s Union Stockyard cheaply enough, they could make a lot of money. Railroads were being constructed into cattle country and cattle towns, such as Abilene, Kansas, came into being, where cowboys drove great numbers of cattle in cattle drives to towns where railroad depots would take the cattle to Chicago. However, the towns didn’t last long, as more farmers came to the land and complained against the damage and disease. So, instead of Texas, more cattle were being produced in the West-right to the Rockies. The cattle replaced the bison everywhere, with the same grazing effects, but they stayed in property boundaries and preferring to eat different things. In response, other plants took their place and shifts in regional vegetation occurred. Elsewhere, in Illinois, farms grew large and Illinois started to grow both cows and corn-the corn to feed the cows. To be more efficient, livestock raisers purchased adult cows from the Great Plains that would use their consumed food to make meat and fat, not inedible bone. Feedlots, with both steers and pigs, became the main form of meat production in Illinois and Iowa by the end of the 18th century. Cronon argues that the livestock industry of the second half of the 19th century is a manifestation of second nature, dictated by profit. Migratory patterns changed, prairie became pastures, and even time and natural reproduction for steer was modified by man. -Francesca Maisano
Since Chicago was more second nature than first nature, Chicago depended on first nature from other cities and put an immense amount of pressure on their own ecosystems. The Chicago economy really depended on bringing in goods from elsewhere to keep their own economy strong and the consumers were now being offered a broader variety of goods which they liked.- Ellora Larsen
Credit became more of an issue at this time. When a storekeeper needed to buy his goods, he basically paid like an IOU or a promise to pay to get his shipment into the store. As long as the goods were not delivered to the storekeeper, then the IOU did not have to be paid yet. So if the goods were not paid for and the storekeeper went bankrupt than the wholesaler becomes a creditor and then would have to fight for the assets of the person who went bankrupt. The whole interaction was very similar to our modern day credit card transactions.- Ellora Larsen
In this chapter, Cronon defines the merging of first and second nature as “the shift from local ecosystem to regional hinterland and global economy” (267). In doing this, much diversity was obliterated. With the general economic exploitation of the prairie, everything was given a price and some aspects of nature, such as long grasses or bison, were given such low prices that they were consumed to extinction. In their place, new organisms more suitable to human needs took their place. What was once a diverse ecosystem gave way to monoculture. It is here that Cronon provides a summation, clarification, and tying together of various themes from the preceding chapters. -Jason Elms
From 1860 to 188, Chicago and the surrounding areas had a major increase secondary-manufacturing. New factories were making machine tools, hardware, furniture, and agricultural implements and they dominated the market. By 1880, Chicago had a workforce of over 75,000 people, which was the largest workforce in the west. Every year the factories produce dc $85 million worth of meat-packing products, $19 million in clothing, $10 million in iron and steel, $9 million i foundry and machine products, $8 million in beer, $6 million in furniture, $6 million in printed matter, and $3 million in printed matter (Cronon 311-312). Chicago was in the optimal location as it was cheaper for many companies to ship their raw goods Chicago first, and then ship it somewhere else from there. However, during this time period, Chicago began to take advantage of its location. Instead of buying pig iron from Ohio and Pennsylvania, Chicago built its’ own smelting plants. The supply of coal to power the factories was becoming increasingly more effective as railroads to bring in large quantities of it from mines in southern Illinois. -Morgan Gilbert
McCormick Reaper Works was one of the most famous factories to open up and they served as the growing Chicago industry and selling of manufactured goods to customers. Cyrus McCormick would invent his first reaper, to mechanize grain harvest, in Virginia in 1831. He would then realize the by the mid-1840s, that market was increasing for his invention beyond the Appalachians, among the midwestern region where the producing of the nation’s wheat output was prominent. Knowing this he would move his operations west and built a new factory in Chicago in 1847. That timing could not have been better for him. Chicago would have its first canal, railroad, telegraph, stockyard, grain elevator, and get a Board of Trade during that time. This would help McCormick successfully manufacture 450 reapers in the first year of production; with that number tripling in the next 2 years. He would find very enthusiastic customers with the farmers of Chicago’s immediate hinterland. -Hunter Dykhuis
The marketing institutions brought by McCormick and his reaper started a new culture of buying and selling in and around Chicago. The speed and low cost of space via railroads allowed urban markets to spread their influence culturally as well as geographically. This means that the idea of Chicago's modernity, progress, and “newness” could be experienced by those that lived in farmlands, not just in the inner city. Buying things like reapers that were manufactured in the city allowed farmers and rural dwellers to participate in the advancing of Chicago's industry. Cronon then discusses the difficulties faced by merchants that bought goods from farmers and sold them in cities pre-railroad, including changing seasons, lack of capital, and risk. He then talks about the merchant's life post-railroad, emphasizing the speed and predictability of the new transportation system. Railroads gave access to different markets towards the East, year-round trading, and connected rural and urban areas, bringing towns and country under the urban hierarchy.
The Great Fair
In 1893, Chicago held the World's Colombian Exposition in rivalry of New York, Washington, and St. Louis. Its purpose was to celebrate Columbus' four hundredth anniversary of arriving in the Americas through displaying all of the impression inventions that Chicago had to offer. The swamp was drained and temporary constructions were put up on the two mile radius of fair grounds. At first it seemed doomed to fail as small crowds trickled in, but by the end twelve million people attended the exposition. For one day in October, Chicago had closed all the schools and public institutions to help booster attendance. Not only did the exposition encourage tourism at the fair but also in the hosting city of Chicago: guidebooks for the event encouraged visitors to go beyond the fair and into the other wonders of the White City. Due to the Great Fire of October 1871, a lot of tourists were fascinated by Chicago's ability to resurrect the city after such a terrible loss. Out of the remnants of Chicago grew stricter ordinances and the ability to rebuild office building with steel and iron frameworks allowing the iconic skyscraper skyline to form. -K. Eastridge
The size of the Chicago Fair, the Colombus Exposition, was enormous before it was even started. The designers of the fair lauded its size before they began building, claiming that “the manufactures building would cover twice the area of the Great Pyramid.” (341) It was lit by over 120,000 electric lamps, being the biggest display of its kind in the world. Overall, over 12 million people walked through the fair in its entire run, bringing talk of it everywhere they went back to. (Daniel Noel)
Miracle of The Phoenix
Henry Adams was not the only person to believe that the fair would suggest that it was a larger miracle that is Chicago. The guidebooks written for the fair would tell the visitors to go beyond the grounds with the fair’s city was “in itself the foremost wonder of the World.” (P. 345) They would repeat these claims endlessly through 1893, with some things more in mind than what the usual booster rhetoric. Making the White City so remarkable though was the event that took place 20 years ago that would play right into Chicago’s history; the Great Fire of October 8-9, 1871. To think that event that took place behind Patrick O’Leary’s cottage the would destroy the land four miles long and two-thirds mile wide. The heart of the city was destroyed in one night. What was the connection though between the Great Fire and the White City you might be asking; well it had less to do with the destruction that the fire caused and more of the resurrection that was going to be the White City. -Hunter Dykhuis
Mable Treseder appeared to love the city in all its grandeur, but even this starstruck young lady couldn’t help but be repulsed by the underbelly of Chicago. The book, The Adventures of Uncle Jeremiah and the Family at the Grand Fair, shows what an “average” country person would have gone through when attempting to go into the city. Clearly it is all caricatures, but the fact that it was so undeniably popular showed that many of the people in the time believed that it was realistic. This is a testament enough to Chicago’s poverty and crime rate during the period. (Daniel Noel)
The Moral Economy of City and Country