Thursday, November 10, 2011

The World's Fair

The Chicago World Fair brought about many changes in the city of Chicago during the Gilded Age, some good and others bad. Following the great fire in Chicago years prior, the 1893 World Fair marked Chicago’s come-back as a major American city. While Chicago experienced an architectural and cultural revival due in large part to the Fair, positive progress within the city was overshadowed by the increased crime rate and darkness associated with life in a large city. During a period of such significant development, it is hard to ignore the negative implications that arose because of the influx of traffic within Chicago.

Prior to the Fair’s beginning in 1893, the people of Chicago were vigorously working to prepare the city. Architects and engineers were commissioned to transform Chicago into a city worthy of being seen by the world. In order to gain the recognition Chicagoan’s desperately craved, architects worked to produce skyscrapers like none in existence. As building progressed, and the fair became real, crime rates within the city climbed. Due to an influx of traffic throughout the city and a growing disparity between upper and lower class citizens, crime rates rose. Many horrid crimes went unpunished, and almost unnoticed by authorities. While on one hand the city was prospering, the safety within Chicago was at an all time low. Chicago was quickly growing in importance on the global scale, but the city’s citizens were becoming lost in the process. The significance of the individual was rapidly decreasing, consequently causing the quality of life in Chicago to decrease.

Like many US cities, Chicago experienced great industrial growth throughout the Gilded Age. While the 1890s were a prosperous time for architecture within the city, the Gilded Age was not a particularly great time for the residents of Chicago. The negative aspects produced by the Chicago World Fair are a reflection of the negative impact of rapid industrialization and the competition to become the greatest American city that occurred during the 1890s.

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