Colorado Goes to the Fair: World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893

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Overview

In many ways, the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, more popularly known as the Chicago World's Fair, symbolized the American people's belief that today's glory and tomorrow's future rested with them, their country, and their democracy. A six-month extravaganza of education, entertainment, and amazement, it sparkled in the daytime and emerged at night, seductive and enchanting.

The Fair aroused patriotism, pride, and a sense of achievement in almost all Americans, ...

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Overview

In many ways, the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, more popularly known as the Chicago World's Fair, symbolized the American people's belief that today's glory and tomorrow's future rested with them, their country, and their democracy. A six-month extravaganza of education, entertainment, and amazement, it sparkled in the daytime and emerged at night, seductive and enchanting.

The Fair aroused patriotism, pride, and a sense of achievement in almost all Americans, yet 1893 proved a troubling year for the United States, and for the young state of Colorado in particular. The repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act created labor tension in the Colorado mines and contributed to a devastating national depression that would have a lingering impact on Colorado for years. In this heavily illustrated text, the authors trace the glory of the World's Fair and the impact it would have on Colorado, where Gilded Age excess clashed with the enthusiasm of westward expansion.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826350411
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
  • Publication date: 9/16/2011
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Duane A. Smith is professor of history, Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colorado. He is also the author of San Juan Gold: A Mining Engineer's Adventures, 1879-1881.

Karen Vendl is a retired geologiss who is interested in Colorado mining history. She and Mark Vendl are currently the managing editors for an update to a classic mineralogy book, Mineralogy for Amateurs, by John Sinkankas.

Mark Vendl is a retired geologiss who is interested in Colorado mining history. He and Karen Vendl are currently the managing editors for an update to a classic mineralogy book, Mineralogy for Amateurs, by John Sinkankas.

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  • Posted October 13, 2011

    the 1893 Chicago World Fair with focus on Colorado's participation

    A professor of history at a Colorado college (Smith) and two authors who are geologists with a knowledge of Colorado mining history write a social history of the 1893 Chicago World Columbian Exposition, popularly known as the World's Fair, with respect to the city of Chicago, the state of Colorado, and the United States. The hopes, involvement, and ambivalent effects of the Fair regarding the three were intertwined. Authors with a knowledge of Colorado mining at the time are relevant because with the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act requiring the U.S. government to purchase silver to back its currency along with gold created labor tensions and economic troubles for Colorado which the state hoped to ease by its participation in the Fair.

    With the World's Fair, Chicago aspired to be recognized as the leading "Metropolis of the West". The United States hoped the Fair would demonstrate mainly to Europe that it was now a highly-developed, capable, and forward-looking nation.

    The Fair was memorable--even to today--as a successful spectacle of industrialism, ambition, public relations, and publicity. However, as investigated by the authors, it fell short of satisfying the larger hopes of the three participants. Though the Fair was intended to display the vibrancy, diversity, and promise of the U.S., it in fact was mainly a testament to the current social condition of the Gilded Age where extraordinarily wealthy descendants of Europeans had practically complete control over exhibitions and the overall image. For Colorado, the effort the state put into the Fair in the hopes of generating a thriving tourist industry to make up for the depressed mining field did not materialize.

    The Fair was an enterprise and image of its time of latter 19th-century America. "For middle-class [i. e., white, Anglo-Saxon] Americans, Chicago's Fair held out amazing hope, optimism, and pride." But the large numbers of African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and immigrants from Italy and Eastern Europe who were beginning to have a part in the growth of America so that the 20th century would become known as the American Century were for the most part invisible or when included in the Fair, portrayed in stereotypical, demeaning ways. It would be another 50 years before America would be portrayed as a multicultural society.

    The authors analyze the social characteristics of the Fair while also relating many interesting facts going into it to make it the international extravaganza and the national showcase it was even though it did not fulfill all the hopes invested in it.

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