3.7.13

MAKE NO SMALL PLANS.

I finished my stack of Erik Larson books on the train.  Book Review No. 14 features The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America.  Perhaps it's a more interesting story than In the Garden of Beasts, or perhaps there are enough familiar people to make it more compelling.   It's not just Daniel Burnham and his World's Columbian Exposition, confirming in the minds of many in the east the excessive boosterism that produced the Windy City moniker, making those plans.  There's also a con-man concealing in a shabby hostelry near the exposition site the means of getting off on killing people, making his plans, and an engineer with an idea to out-Eiffel the Eiffel Tower, making his plans.  Chicago political intrigue is nothing new.  Bureaucratic inertia is nothing new.  Cost over-runs are nothing new.  The fair wasn't ready on time.  And nobody can ballyhoo and make money like a circus impresario.

To expedite construction, the fair buildings were all essentially temporary structures, and the relatively small building that became the Museum of Science and Industry had to be rebuilt with more permanent materials later.


The White City did influence subsequent civic architecture, possibly including the Worcester railroad station with the restored towers, made of a material that might have intrigued the Columbian Exposition's promoters.

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)

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