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.

2018 10 14 713 Chicago Open House

 

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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2018 10 14 607 Chicago Open House

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as well as the Field Museum and Soldier Field.

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2018 10 14 605 Chicago Open House

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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 – West Virginia

Take Me Home Country Roads – to West Virginia.

2018 05 08 34 Morgantown WV Coopers Rocks

 

While I have more years of Texas maps, I have more overall West Virginia maps as they published monthly in the 1940s.

 

State Capitol

1949     1958     1960     1963    1992     2010

Government State West Virginia 1992

 

West Virginia State Capitol (Photo from whereverImayroam.com)

West Virginia's State Capitol has the Stunning Midas Touch

 

When West Virginia was formed during the Civil War, it took years for them to settle on a permanent state capital Finally they decided Charleston is the place, and in 1932 completed this building.

 

State Symbol 

State Firearm – Hall Flintlock Model 1819. This weapon was produced in Harpers Ferry.

 

 

Rivers and Streams

1937 – Potomac River South Branch     1940 February – Kanawha River     1941 September – New River Gorge and River     1954 – Randolph County Lake     1967 – New River Gorge and River     1986     1994 – New River Gorge and River

 

 

West Virginia has a number of rivers that served the coal industry for decades. One of those coal towns was Thurmond. Today it is a ghost town, but at one time was a center of coal production.

It is situated on the New River, which is an attraction for tourists and adventurers.

 

 

Huntington is the 2nd largest town in the state. It was founded as a railway center, and that history is celebrated with decorated model engines around downtown.

The most noteworthy is the one dedicated to those who died in the Marshall University Football team’s airplane crash in 1970.

2015 07 25 50 Huntington WV Hot Dog Festival

 

 

Point Pleasant is an Ohio River town that live on the legend of the Mothman.

2015 03 28 166 Point Pleasant WV

 

 

 

Mountains

1939 January     1939 February     1940 May     1974 – White Sulfur Springs     1983     2002 – Coopers Rocks     2017

 

 

Cooper’s Rocks is a scenic area above Morgantown, near the Maryland border.

2018 05 08 41 Morgantown WV Coopers Rocks

 

 

Helvetia was originally a Swiss colony far back in the Appalachian Mountains.

 

 

The Greenbrier has been a premier resort since 1778, with 27 of the 45 Presidents having visited.

2015 07 26 197 Greenbrier WV

 

 

West Virginia is all mountains and hills, with unique histories. One of those interesting places is Matewan, where a famed labor battle occurred.

 

 

 

 

Roads and Bridges

1940 January – Canaan Valley Route 32     1962 – Interstate 77     1965     1980 – New River Gorge Bridge     1990     2011     2014

 

 

The New River Gorge Bridge is one of the highest bridges in the world.

2015 07 26 4 New River WV

 

 

The Ohio River Valley has a collection of old, cool and quirky bridges. Not all are still in use.

 

 

 

 

West Virginia Culture and Sights

1940 June – Rhododendron Festival     1940 August     1940 September     1940 December     1941 January – WVU Martin Hall     1943     1947     1968     1976     1978     1988     1998    2005     2006     2008

 

 

Green Bank, West Virginia is home to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. As such it is in an area known as a National Radio Quiet Zone – no cell phones, radios, etc.

2015 07 27 54 Green Bank WV

 

 

New Vrindaban is a temple built outside of Wheeling in the 1970s and 1980s.

2017 07 02 22 New Vrindabad WV Palace of Gold

 

 

Two now closed incarceration facilities are now tourist attractions in West Virginia, including the Trans- Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston.

 

 

Not to be outdone Moundsville ha their former prison open for tours. With that we are breaking out of West Virginia and headed on….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Travel – Pennsylvania

As with Ohio I have spent considerable time in Pennsylvania, with Pittsburgh feeling like a ‘hometown’ (Go Pens/Pirates/Steelers!)

 

History & State Capitol

1938     1955     1956     1986     2013

 

 

As with most states, the state capital is located (somewhat) in the middle of the state. Given that the vast majority of the people of Pennsylvania live on the ends, this meant a smaller city has been the capital – Harrisburg.

While outside the Pennsylvania Capitol looks like many others, inside is amazing!

2018 05 07 282 Harrisburg PA State Capital - Copy

 

 

Unusual State Symbols

Official State Aircraft – Piper J-3 Cub. For decades Piper Cubs were built in Lock Haven, PA.

Piper J-3 Cub

 

State Colors – Blue and Gold Featured on the flag and every license plate ever.

Blue and gold PA license plate with keystone symbol

But in Pittsburgh the colors are Black & Gold! All the sports teams follow this color scheme.

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Pennsylvania has a long industrial history, much of which has been lost. The city of Bethlehem has a vacant steel mill that is now a National Park site that serves as a reminder of this legacy.

 

 

 

Roads

1952     1960     1964     1973     1974

 

 

It is impossible to find a city with more cool bridges and tunnels than Pittsburgh. While it makes the commutes tough, it is a great visual experience driving around the city

 

 

 

The Pennsylvania Railroad was the largest, and most famous railroad in the country in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This history is celebrated at two major rail museums, Steamtown in Scranton, and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

 

 

Not to be outdone the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, PA has a great collection of streetcars and interurbans.

 

 

 

 

1976 – Philadelphia

 

 

There is another large city in Pennsylvania other than Pittsburgh 🙂

Philadelphia of course is the seat of the independence movement in the 1700s. That history is on evidence everywhere in the city. Trivia moment of the day – there are only 2 cities that have been in the top 10 in population for every official United States Census – New York and Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

 

Near Philadelphia is one of the world’s best gardens – Longwood.

 

 

1989 – Seasons

 

 

Most of Pennsylvania is beautiful rolling hills and mountains. Much of this area is filled with small towns and wooded countryside.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous structure is located in these hills – Fallingwater. Nearby is a second FLW house – Kentuck Knob. Both are stunning.

2008 09 06 29 Fallingwater.JPG

 

 

U.S. Route 6 traverses Northern Pennsylvania, and passes a number of interesting venues including Kinzua Bridge. When completed in 1882 it was the tallest bridge in the world, towering 300′ above the valley. It was decommissioned in the early 1960s and sold to the state with the purpose of becoming a park.

In 2003 a tornado struck the bridge and destroyed a large portion of it, but the remainder makes for a great walk.

 

 

As you make your way along U.S. 6 you pass the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum in Galeton, the Coudersport Ice Cave, and the Zippo Lighter Museum in Bradford.

 

 

 

1995 – Hunseckers Mill Bridge – Lancaster County

 

 

It is thought that Pennsylvania has more named places than any other states as each hill and valley seems to be another named small town. Some are more famous than others such as Punxsutawney – home of Phil! Each February 2nd this little town is overrun by 40,000 people coming to see a groundhog pulled out of it’s fake home to see it’s shadow.

It is celebrated with another collection of fiberglass statues.

 

 

The town of Ridgway has an annual Chainsaw Carving contest that draws artists from all over the world.

 

 

The C.F. Martin & Company has built outstanding guitars since 1833. Their factory is open for tours, and they welcome photography throughout! We have been of many tours of facilities over the years and this was one of the best.

 

 

 

 

2007 – Pittsburgh

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As noted in the opening, while I was not born or raised there I grew up close enough, and have spent most of my adult life spending time there, that it feels like home.

Built on steep hills along the 3 rivers (Ohio, Allegheny, and Mon), it has character. With the long history of steel, the city had enough wealthy people in the early 1900s that there is a great collection of historic skyscrapers. With the lack of build able land, the skyscraper construction has continued to this day.

 

The interiors and trim are just as impressive.