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.

el 1893

 

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

2019 02 17 106 Chicago History Center

 

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

2017 12 27 22 Chicago Museum of Science & Industry

 

 

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.

2018 09 02 33 Chicago Jackson Park

 

 

 

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.

2019 02 14 37 Chicago Union Station

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.

2016 10 15 128 Indiana Dunes Century of Progress Homes

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!

2017 09 06 34 Rearguard Falls BC - Copy

 

 

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.

2017 09 06 50 Helmcken Falls BC - Copy

 

 

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.

2017 09 07 111 Kelowna BC Myrna Canyon Tresle Trail - Copy

 

 

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.

2017 09 08 60 Burnaby BC - Copy

 

 

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

2017 09 08 121d Vancouver Capilano Park - Copy

 

 

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 – Alberta

 

Welcome to Alberta

2017 09 03 20 Southwest Alberta

 

 

 

Where the prairies meet the mountains.

 

 

Calgary is the largest city in the province.

2017 09 03 89 Calgary

 

 

Edmonton is nearly as large as Calgary. They have a strong hockey rivalry.

Oil is the business of Edmonton, and is reflected in the hockey team’s name.  (photos of Edmonton from Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

Banff was Canada’s first national park, and remains a beautiful area.

2017 09 04 88 Banff Alberta

 

 

 

Lake Louise is renown for the turquoise water, and tourists.

2017 09 05 33 Lake Louise

 

 

 

The Icefields Parkway is a 140 mile long road from Banff to Jasper, passing numerous glaciers and waterfalls. It is one of the best drives in the world.

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Jasper is home to Athabasca Falls. Tomorrow is our final stop in Canada – British Columbia.

2017 09 05 212 Athabasca Falls Alberta

 

 

 

 

Virtual Travel – Prairie Provinces

I have been fortunate enough to have been in all 50 states, and all but 2 provinces of Canada – Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Today’s visit takes us there (obviously all photos will be from the Internet).

 

Manitoba

 

Manitoba is home to 1.4 million people, most of which live near Winnipeg. The city has long, cold winters with November through March all having average HIGHS below freezing (32 f/0 c). It is listed as the second sunniest city in Canada, so you have that going for you.

Why The Forks in Winnipeg has it all this winter - Blog Viarail

 

But eventually it does thaw out!

Winnipeg

2019 Winnipeg Food Truck Guide | Peg City Grub | Tourism Winnipeg

 

It has a very diverse economy, with no one industry being dominate.

Packers to play in Canada: How much it will cost and places to go ...

What does the future hold for development in Winnipeg? - Winnipeg ...

 

It is the capital of the province, so government is big business.

File:Manitoba Legislative Building.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

 

Winnipeg has the highest population of aboriginal people in all of Canada. The city is 12% Native Canadian

Annual Festivals & Events | Tourism Winnipeg

 

 

 

The small, far northern town of Churchill each fall has a migration of polar bears pass through town as they migrate from their summer home to their winter home.

Why this town on the edge of the world is the greatest place to ...

 

Tours are apparently very popular

Northern winter safari to see polar bears, northern lights in ...

Churchill Sunday Photo - Polar Bears | Churchill Polar Bears

 

 

 

Riding Mountain National Park is also in Northern Manitoba, just not nearly as far north.

Riding Mountain National Park closed to visitors over long weekend ...

 

It is known for it’s bison

File:Bison herd - Lake Audy - Riding Mountain National Park.JPG ...

 

 

As well as the moose

BULL MOOSE, RIDING MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK – Lone Pine Photo

 

 

 

Our final stop – an Indiana Jones nightmare – is the Narcisse Snake Dens. Tens of thousands of red sided garter snakes reside here during the winter before migrating to a nearby swamp.

Narcisse Snake Dens – Gimli, Manitoba - Atlas Obscura

 

Narcisse Snake Dens Update Page!

 

 

Let’s move westward to Saskatchewan.

 

Mining is the largest industry in the province, whereas the finance and insurance industry makes up the largest white collar sector.

As the Guess Who sang, it is time for ‘Running Back to Saskatoon’.

 

Saskatoon is the largest city with a population of nearly 300,000. The population is fairly diverse.

Much like Winnipeg it is bitterly cold in the winter.

 

But it too eventually thaws out.

Welcome to Saskatoon | Hotels, Restaurants, & Things To Do

 

 

For a city of it’s size it has an excellent collection of architecture.

 

 

 

 

 

Regina is the 2nd largest city in the province. It is the provincial capital.

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The Prince Edward Theater is a classic old hall.

 

 

The First Nations University has incorporated a tepee into the building design.

 

 

But our prairie time has come to an end, time to move further west to Alberta tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

2016 09 10 59 Montreal

 

 

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

2019 07 31 342 Montreal

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.

2011 05 28 Jill Road Trip Day 3 14

2011 05 28 Jill Road Trip Day 3 12

 

 

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

 

 

Montreal was host to the 1976 Olympics.

2019 07 31 2 Montreal Olympic Park - Copy

 

Olympic Stadium was home to the Montreal Expos until left town to move to Washington DC

 

 

The city has a great collection of architecture.