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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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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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 – Iowa

In previously postings I have shown examples of the tremendous population growth many of the states have experienced over the last 50-60 years. Iowa is the opposite of that. In the mid 1950s there were 2.7 million people in the state, up only 500,000 from 1900. In the next 70 years the population has only grown another 500,000 people.

It is the heart of the cornbelt, as exhibited in this graphically impressive 1954 map.

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This scene could be from 1900, 1955 or 2020.

 

 

 

1957 – The graphics are still impressive with this view of factory and a highway.

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Des Moines 1957

Downtown Des Moines, 9th and Locust looking east, 1957. Locust Street was 2-way then. Equitable Bldg. is right of center, the current Suites of 800 Locust Hotel is just to the right. Note the diversity of shops. There is a Sherwin Williams paint store on the NW corner. This was before there was suburban shopping centers or strip malls.

 

2020 streetview of the same intersection. Despite minimal population growth the city has changed dramatically.

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1970 – Herbert Hoover Presidential Library. It was built and dedicated in 1962, not long before Hoover died in 1964.

1974 – Herbert Hoover’s 100th birthday.

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Herbert Hoover is the only U.S. President that was born in Iowa. Hoover however is often ranked among the worst presidents in history, although everyone is up one now.

Hoover was born in the town of West Branch, Iowa in this small house.  (photo from Wikipedia)

 

 

 

1971 – A collage of scenes around the state. The scene in the lower left is the Pella Tulip Festival.

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The Pella Tulip Festival has taken place every year since 1935. Today the town plants 200,000 tulips in celebration.

 

 

 

1972 – Seasons in Iowa.

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1973 – Joliet and Marquette. The early explorers in Iowa (and elsewhere).

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1975 – State Symbols

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1976,  1979 & 1983 – Generic (read – boring) covers

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1986 – Another collage including riverboats.

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The eastern border of Iowa is the Mississippi River. There are a number of towns and cities along the river that have transitioned from commerce to tourism.

There are also riverboat casinos in Dubuque, Bettendorf and Clinton. (Photo from Travel Iowa).

Celebration River Cruises, Iowa

 

 

 

1988 – Another collage but in the form of a quilt.

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Des Moines each year holds ‘Quilt Week’. (Photo from Pintrest)

Community Outreach – Des Moines Area Quilter's Guild

 

 

1991 – The collages continue.

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Among the photos this year is the Iowa State Capitol. Built between 1871 and 1886, the building is the only 5 domed capitol in America. (Photo from All American Scaffolding website)

Iowa State Capital Scaffold Rental Project Overview

 

 

1994 – Snake Alley in Burlington.

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Iowa is well known for being mostly flat landscape. Along the Mississippi River however there are some bluffs, including the one in Burlington.

In 1894 they built a street up this bluff with multiple curves, giving it the name of ‘Snake Alley’ It rises 58′ (17.8m) in a distance of 275 feet for a 21% grade.

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For perspective here is Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh, claimed to be one of the steepest streets in the world – rising at 37%. To Pittsburghers 21% is considered a level yard.

 

 

 

1995 – Pikes Peak State Park. What, I thought Pikes Peak was in Colorado?

While it does have a panoramic view, I think they are over advertising using that name.

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1996 & 1998 – The collage returns, this time with a butterfly each time.

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In 2015 there was a push for the Regal Fritillary (this butterfly) to become the official state butterfly, but nothing came of it. These maps pre-date that effort by nearly 10 years!

 

 

1999 – 100th Anniversary of the first man carrying glider in Iowa

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As the map states in 1898 14 year old Carl Gates flew in this glider, pulled along by a horse. He later went on to attend the Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago, later building small airplanes.

The reverse side of the map has a tribute to transportation in Iowa over the years. From canoes to steamships to trains, Iowa has seen it all pass by.

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The Lincoln Highway was one of the first transcontinental roads, passing through Iowa on it’s way from New York to San Francisco. There is a very famous bridge in Iowa that celebrates this road. (Photo from Iowa Girl on the Go blog)

 

 

 

2001 – Collage again, including a covered bridge. Those that read this blog know I rarely offer negative commentary but once on a flight from Atlanta to LAX I attempted to watch Bridges of Madison County. This movie was set, and filmed in Iowa in 1995, and the bridge featured on this map.

To me that movie was so bad I wanted to jump out of the plane somewhere over Iowa, but to each their own.

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2002 – Collage (again) with crossings.

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In an attempt to find this rail trestle above I came across the High Trestle Trail. This rails to trails opened in 2011, crossing it’s namesake span over the Des Moines River.

I have only been to Iowa twice, and then very briefly, but this looks worth the trip (Photo from Wikipedia)

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2003 – Again the Bridges of Madison County bridge!

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2004 – Collage including a Railroad Museum.

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Among the railroad museums in Iowa is the Union Pacific Railroad Museum. Located in Council Bluffs, it details the history of this railroad. Located in a former library, the museum at times sponsors rides on this great train below to raise funds. (Photo Omaha newspaper)

Hundreds ride back in time on Union Pacific passenger train in ...

 

 

 

2005 – Collage including the Black Hawk Bridge spanning the Mississippi between Iowa and Wisconsin.

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An unusual cantilever through truss design, it was completed in 1931. There are plans to replace this bridge in the next 10 years or so. Personally I love these old bridges with their Erector Set gone wild look.

 

 

 

2008 – Collage including downhill skiing in Iowa.

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The Mount Crescent Ski Resort in Honey Lake, Iowa has a vertical drop of 250′! (Photo from Onthesnow.com)

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2009 – Collage including ‘Barn Quilts’. These decorations grace barns throughout the state.

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Sac County has enough of these Barn Quilts they have a tour. The tour can be found at

Barnquilts.com – where this photo came from.

 

 

2010 – The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge is a 3000′ long walkway across the Missouri River between downtown Omaha, Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Iowa.

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2011& 2013 – Additional visits to the Capitol.

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2012 – Small Town Iowa.

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2014 – Great River Bridge at Burlington. As with many modern bridges this is cable stayed, however uniquely it is uneven – there are 13 pairs on one side and 14 on the other side.

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2015 – One last collage including hot air balloons.

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Each year the National Balloon Classic comes to Des Moines. For 9 days over 100 hot air balloons fill the skies over the city and surrounding countryside. (Photo from Radioiowa.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buenos Aires – March 2020 – San Patricio/St Patrick’s Day Parade

Only in Buenos Aires can you go from a Carnaval 5 days too late to a St Patrick’s Day parade 7 days later (or 10 days too early)! But who cares, it was a colorful event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buenos Aires – February 2020 – Scenes from a Professional Tennis Tournament

With February being summer time in Argentina, it is time for the annual professional tennis tour stop. With this being the first round, the crowds were light, but the action and scenes at the grounds were entertaining.







It was a good day to bring the kids to the tournament.





In true Argentina fashion the trophy is a mate cup.




As with most events like this there were numerous corporate sponsors.








A nice collection of food trucks kept everyone fed.





There was an exhibition of Beach Tennis.









But the best action was on the courts where a number of the top players in the world were competing.




















































San Antonio de Areco, Argentina – November 2019 – Gaucho Festival

We have been fortunate to attend a number of amazing events, those truly unique in the world – I can’t believe what we just saw type of events.

The San Antonio de Areco Gaucho Festival is one of those events! (caution – something this cool has resulted in a fairly long posting with 40 photos)




The town of San Antonio de Areco is about 60 miles/100 KM from Buenos Aires, but in feel it is a world away.




It has a relaxed feel, where the local dogs just cruise around town greeting visitors. This little guy hung out with us for the first 1/2 hour we were there.




It is known as the ‘Cradle of Tradition’, or ‘Capital Nacional de la Tradicion’ for all of Argentina. The Gaucho Festival is their premier event of the year.

Lasting 5 days the Feast of Tradition culminates with an exhibit of traditional dance, followed by a parade of gauchos. The dancers wore authentic period clothes.













At the edge of town is the Ricardo Guiraldes Crillo Park. The park has a museum dedicated to the gaucho.







Nearby there were numerous vendors selling gaucho-ware.




The most amazing part of the day was the parade which consisted of over 4000 horses and riders! This view is of them making their way into town from the park.




Across the ‘Old Bridge’






Into another park that acted as a staging area.




It was here you began to get an appreciation of the beauty of the horses, as well as the very stylish look of the gauchos.






There were entire herds of horses just hanging out in the park.



With 4000 horses and riders some had to wait a bit for their turn to parade.




While most were in groups of two or three a few larger groups rode together.



Horses were everywhere, including on front lawns of houses.




But it was time for the parade. This rider, carrying the flag for the festival, lead the parade.




And for the next few hours we were treated to an amazingly stylish parade.































These gauchos gathered for the ‘Grand Finale’….




A number of riders showing their herding skills by driving a group of horses through the streets of the town by themselves.







What could be better than a beautiful warm spring day with a jacaranda tree blooming in the background, and a gaucho showing his skill.




With the parade over it was time for a cold cerveza while sitting on your horse! Our day in San Antonio de Areco was fantastic, a memory that will last forever.






San Isidro, Argentina – October 2019 – Racing Argentine Style

The San Isidro Hippodromo was opened in suburban Buenos Aires in 1935. In addition to horse racing, they often have concerts here.



Because it’s primary tracks are grass, it is known as the Casa de Turf.







Unlike most American tracks, the starting gates were far away from the finish, so the horses only passed the grandstands once.







On this day there the track was having an open house, with food trucks and entertainment in the infield.
















For the most part you could get up close to the horses and jockeys.










When we arrived the lady at the gate strongly encouraged us to take the free ‘bus tour’. This tour took us around the grounds.

It turned out we had a local model/tv ‘personality’ on our tour.




We stopped in the far back corner of the grounds at one of the starting gates where people were allowed to play on the starting gates before the horses arrived for the next race while our TV host did her story.




Our location allowed us a great close up of the start.




And they were off! It was a nice afternoon at the San Isidro Hippodromo.






Marietta, Ohio – September 2019 – Sternwheeler Festival

In the early days of river transportation a common style of boat was the sternwheeler. With it’s distinctive large wooden wheel on the back (stern) to propel it, it was a common sight along the Ohio River.

Today most of the sternwheels are mostly decorative, with a traditional propeller providing most of the propulsion. The boats at the Marietta Sternwheeler Festival were mostly campers on boats.