Chicago – History Through Maps and Photographs – Part 1 The World Fairs

As we continue to be restricted to any travel the ‘virtual travel’ series is continuing with some history. This posting will detail the history of Chicago through maps and photographs, and take a look at what it looks like now.

 

In 1840 when New York City already had over 300,000 people, Chicago was just starting as a town with just a few thousand. By 1860 is was in the top 10 with over 100,000, and just 30 years later there was 1.1 million people and Chicago was ‘The Second City’, doubling in population from 1880 to 1890.

 

Celebrating Chicago through World’s Fairs

It was around this time that Chicago decided to make it’s presence known on the world stage by hosting a World’s Fair. Local leaders lobbied hard to land the right to host this fair with the federal government, winning out over New York, Washington and St Louis.

The site chosen, Jackson Park, provided the 600 acres required. The lead architect was the famed Daniel Burnham, who was a proponent of the ‘City Beautiful’ movement.

While most of the buildings were designed and built to be temporary, there are a few that remain to this day.

With all of the buildings built in a neo-classical design and painted the same color, it became known as The White City.

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Getting to the Fair

With the incredible growth of the city from the end of the Civil War to 1890, Chicago’s transit struggled to keep up. Initially private companies had built horse drawn trolleys downtown. In 1892 the first of the famed El’s was completed from 39th Street (Pershing Road) to the Loop. The next year the Chicago and South Side Elevated Railway extended this to the fair site at Jackson Park.

The map below dates from the 1930s but clearly shows the line going south before turning left towards the lake, ending at Jackson Park. (Red Lines denote the El). This company failed not long after the fair ended because there was not enough ridership to maintain financial stability, being sold under foreclosure.

Of note this line was originally not electrified, the coaches were pulled by an engine.

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The Chicago History Center has one of the original cars on display.

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Green Line Train today

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Also note the Midway Plaisance connecting Washington Park and Jackson Park (Green strip on map between the parks). This area was the Entertainment section of the park (more on this below).

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Today the Green Line takes a very similar route, although the spur towards the lake only goes to Cottage Grove Avenue, and the southernmost branch is gone.

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As noted in the photo description this is the entrance at the Midway Plaisance.

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The map detail shows some of the highlights of this area, including the famed Ferris Wheel. While there had been a wooden wheel built in Atlantic City in 1891, but it burned down the next year.

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Ferris’s wheel was to be Chicago’s answer to Paris’s Eiffel Tower. It was massive – 264 feet high, with a capacity of 2,160 passengers. So renown was this feature that for many years Ferris Wheel’s were known as ‘Chicago Wheels’

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Today Chicago’s Navy Pier has one that, while impressive, is shorter than the original.

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The Midway Plaisance today serves as a park area next to the University of Chicago. There are a few reminders of the fair.

 

 

The grounds and buildings were magnificent.

 

 

The Palace of Fine Arts was one of the few buildings built to remain after the fair.

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It serves today as the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

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The Statue of the Republic Was the Centerpiece of the Basin.

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While no longer surrounded by water it is one of the few remaining structures from the fair.

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But Chicago had a second chance at a World’s Fair just 40 years later, when they hosted the Century of Progress, which ran from May 1933 until October 1934, taking the winter off.

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But the city, and world, has had significant change since 1893.

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The Auto Club sponsored ‘Routes’ with fair themed names for automobile travelers to come to the city. In addition they sponsored ‘Motor Villages’, campgrounds and motels on the outskirts of town,.

 

 

Despite the introduction of the automobile, train travel was still the primary way to get to Chicago.

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This Conoco map shows an Illinois Central Railway Station at the entrance to the fair.

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In addition to the station at the fairgrounds entrance, there were another 6 train stations downtown, including the commuter rail stations.

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Today there are 3, two for the commuter rail and Union Station, and even that station is just a portion of what it was.

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Union Station is still very nice, but this grand space above was torn down in 1969.

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2019 02 14 17 Chicago Union Station

 

 

Once you were in town the El or streetcar network would take you to where you needed to go.

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El to Fair

 

Including directly to the Fair.

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Welcome to the Century of Progress World’s Fair entrance.

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The skyride took passengers from the main entrance on Columbus Drive to the lake shore. In this photo the Field Museum and the skyline of downtown is clearly visible.

One of the features of the 1933 fair compared to 1893’s is that it was essentially downtown, whereas the Columbian Exposition was a couple of miles south of downtown.

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The 1930s was the height of the Art Deco movement (a favorite of mine), and the advertising for the fair highlighted this.

 

 

The industrialists of the day had major exhibits. GM even built an assembly line.

 

You could see the homes of tomorrow.

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After the fair an investor purchased the homes and moved them by barge to nearby Indiana, and placed them along the lake shore as an attraction to the community he was building.

Time was tough on the homes, but over the last 20 years or so the state of Indiana has sponsored a program where you can lease them for $1 with the stipulation you fix them up (which costs $1m +). The results are fantastic.

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2016 10 15 94 Indiana Dunes Century of Progress Homes

 

 

Many Chicago landmarks were part of the fair including Adler Planetarium

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as well as the Field Museum and Soldier Field.

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Chicago has always used their lake shore for the public’s enjoyment, never more so than during the two World’s Fairs. Part 2 of this series in a few days will focus more on the development of the transportation in the city.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Travel – British Columbia

Our last province, British Columbia. As the saying goes, we saved the best for last!

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We start out in far southeastern BC at the town of Sparwood. Named for the lumber that went into making spars (poles) for ships, Sparwood is a mining town. As you enter town you can’t miss Terex Titan, one of the largest trucks in the world, now retired in front of the visitor center.

 

 

Eastern BC has a number of great waterfalls including those below: Helmcken, Dawson and Rearguard Falls.

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The town of Lake Country BC is home to a Kangaroo Farm! It was very cool, especially holding a baby kangaroo.

2017 09 07 62 Lake Country BC Kangaroo Farm - Copy

 

 

High above the town of Kamloops is the Myrna Canyon Trestle Trail. Once a railway, now one of the best bike paths anywhere.

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In Hope BC there is another path, much lower that goes through the Othello Tunnels. Nearby is the Bridal Veil Falls.

2017 09 08 23 Hope BC Othello Tunnels Trail - Copy

 

 

The Vancouver suburb of Burnaby has a great park with these native statues. The persistent rain and fog added to the atmosphere.

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Capilano Park in North Vancouver has an amazing bridge (that bounces!) and a forest canopy walk, along with more totem poles.

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Vancouver is one of the world’s great cities. Situated on a bay, with islands and the mountains, the views are fantastic. They have height limits on the buildings so that they don’t block the views.

 

 

The Museum of Anthropology has the largest native sculpture collection anywhere.

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Vancouver is even better from the ‘Lookout’, especially after a nice walk along the harbour.

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Vancouver has character!

 

 

 

Our final stop is Victoria, on Vancouver Island (which Vancouver is not). BC Ferries will get you there.

2017 09 10 25 Ferry to Victoria BC

 

 

 

The city is the capital of the province, and has a great history.

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It is also home to numerous gardens, including Hartley Castle and Gardens.

2017 09 10 50 Victoria BC Hatley Castle & Gardens

 

 

 

Our virtual trips across North America has come to an end, but there is more coming – up next Chicago – History through Maps and Photos…. stay tuned.

 

 

Virtual Travel – Ontario

Welcome to Ontario – Canada’s largest province by population, and the center of the country’s media.

It is also home to more NHL hockey players than any other place in the world.

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Government/History

1931     1946     1948     1952     1955 – Parliment Buildings     1968     1970     1973    1996 – Yonge Street

 

 

 

 

Ottawa

The Canadian National Capital is in Ottawa. The collection of buildings are on what is known as Parliament Hill. They were built between 1859 and 1927.

The metro area is the 5th largest in the country with 1.3 million people.

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Many of the buildings are open for tours. The main assembly hall has started a 10 year reconstruction effort, so a new hall was built in what was previously an open space between buildings.

 

 

The city is located at the confluence of the Rideau Canal and the Rideau River.

 

 

During the summer the buildings are lit up in the evenings with an impressive light show.

 

 

 

 

Roads and Bridges

1957     1958     1959     1960     1962     1964     1965     1967    1986 – Ivy Lea Bridge    2010 – Highway 406 St Catharines

 

 

Toronto is by far the largest city in Canada, and one of the major cities in North America. It is also one of my favorite cities in the world.

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The CN Tower was completed in 1973 as the worldest tallest freestanding structure, a record it held until 2007.

 

 

The railroads and the lakes built the city. Today the city still has long distance train travel, as well as an extensive subway and streetcar network.

 

 

The lakeshore was once an industrial area, but is now filled with luxury condos and apartments.

 

 

The entire downtown area is filled with great architecture.

 

 

 

 

Toronto is the center of the hockey universe, including the Hockey Hall of Fame.

 

 

 

Hamilton is located 50 miles from Toronto, but it is one continuous city. Once a steel town, it still has some industry, but has transition to a more diverse economy today.

It is also home to Tim Horton’s #1!!

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Windsor is across the river from downtown Detroit.

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Countryside

1966     1974     1978     1980     1990 – Highway 17 – Wawa      1992 – Algonquin Provincial Park           2001 – Algonquin Provincial Park      2003 – Pancake Bay     2005 – Pancake Bay Provincial Park      2006 – Highway 118 Muskoka      2008 – Highway 141 – Muskoka     2014 – Highway 69 French River

 

 

Niagara Falls is shared with New York, but the Ontario side is much nicer.

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Scarborough is now part of the city of Toronto but was for many years a separate suburb. It is home to Guild Park – home of relics from down demolished buildings in downtown Toronto.

 

2019 07 29 38 Toronto Guild Park

 

 

It is also home to the RC Harris Water Treatment Facility AKA – Palace of Purification.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Travel – Quebec

Bienvenue au Québec

 

 

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Quebec is 2 1/2 times the size of Texas, and nearly as large as Alaska, stretching from the USA border to past the Arctic Circle, with nearly all the people living within 100 miles of the American border.

With French being the primary language it truly feels like you have arrived in Europe, only it looks ‘North American’. I have always enjoyed visits to Quebec and look forward to going back.

 

Quebec City is the capital of the province. It is one of the oldest towns in North America, having been first settled in 1535, and founded as a town in 1608.

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Nearby is Montmorency Falls, one of the largest volume waterfalls on the continent.

2016 09 09 68 Montmorency Falls PQ

 

 

Canyon Saint Anne is another impressive natural setting, with a series of waterfalls dropping over 200′ through the canyon.

2016 09 09 49 Canyon Sainte Anne PQ

 

 

 

Pohenegamook is a small town on the Maine border, where some houses literally are sitting in both countries.

2016 09 09 27 Pohenegamook PQ

 

 

Montreal is the 2nd largest French speaking city in the world.

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Old Montreal was the original setting for the town. Today it is the tourist center.

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2019 07 31 340 Montreal

 

 

Montreal is home to a number of impressive cathedrals.

 

 

Parc Jean Drapeau is on a couple of islands in the middle of the St Lawrence River. It is home to, among other things, the Formula 1 racetrack. It is easily accessible via the Metro.

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The Montreal Botanical Gardens is one of the finest in the world.