Devil in the White City Essay

Words: 1864
Pages: 8

Write an essay discussing the historical insights presented in Erik Larson's Devil in the White City, being sure to answer the following questions: In what ways does the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 represent the contrasts and conflicts of the Gilded Age? What is the Fair's lasting imprint on American society & culture, & what new trends does it signal for the twentieth century?

Although the Chicago World's fair of 1893 only lasted 6 months, I had an enormous impact on the city of Chicago, its people, and indeed the entire country. Up until that point in its history, the US had done nothing on the scale of the world's fair, and was regarded as a country of barbarians and cowboys by much of the world, especially Old Europe. The fair
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So even phycially, the fair was representative of the Gilded age. Metaphorically, the fair was a very shiny, perfect world in a time and place that was anything but perfect. The city it was built in, Chicago, was dirty, filled with trash and excrement. It was corrupt, with political machines and powerful, rich men controlling the city. In effect, the white city was the opposite of the city that hosted it, at least on the surface. Underneath, the same forces that moved Chicago had a hand in the construction, planning and financing of the fair. Even the bringing of the fair to Chicago was entirely a political affair. You see in the construction the great minds and personalities that fought over control and design. An example would be the wooded isle. Where the rest of the fair was artificial and grand and white, the wooded isle was kept entirely free of construction, except for the Japanese exhibit, which blended nicely with the theme of the wooded isle. So, the fair, being nessarily a mix of all the different elements and forces that existed in Chicago, and the entire country, became a representation of all of the conflicts and dramas that were happening in the US at this time, ranging from the movement torward better treatment of labor and organization, to the fiscial panic that was sweeping the entire country at the time. Probably the fair's longest lasting, and greatest impact on the US, was the changes it provoked in the thinking and the tenor of