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A quiz on both Chicago World's Fairs

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A quiz on both Chicago World's Fairs

The 1893 Columbian Exposition Canal and Bridge.

Flickr/Montana State University Library

If you've read The Devil in the White City -- isn't it required reading upon entering Chicago? -- you'll know at least enough to call in and let WBEZ history blogger John Schmidt quiz you about the World's Columbian Exposition and 1933’s Century of Progress. To play, call 312.923.9239. We'll post the answers after the show.


1. What amusement park ride made its debut at the 1893 Fair?

(A) the roller coaster

(B) the parachute jump

(C) shoot the chutes

(D) the ferris wheel

2. Who was the dancer sensation of the Century of Progress Fair?

(A) Sally Rand

(B) Gypsy Rose Lee

(C) Isadora Duncan

(D) Little Egypt

3. What was the name for the proposed 1992 Chicago World’s Fair?

(A) The Second Columbian Exposition

(B) The Age of Discovery

(C) The Bridge to the 21st Century

(D) Chicago Fest ‘92

4. What was the site of the Century of Progress Fair?

(A) Lincoln Park

(B) Grant Park

(C) Burnham Park

(D) Columbus Park

5. How was Herman Webster Mudgett connected to the 1893 Fair?

(A) He was the main person in charge of planning the Fair.
(B) As a direct descendent of Columbus, he was the Guest of Honor at the Fair.

(C) He was an alderman who owned the Fair site, selling it to the city at an inflated price.

(D) He was a serial killer who carried out his crimes during the Fair. 

6. Why was the 1893 Fair nicknamed The White City?

(A) The main buildings were painted white.

(B) The fair was designed by Stanford White.

(C) The fair was built on land originally owned by Otto Weiss (Weiss means white in German)  

(D) People of color were not admitted to the fair. 


Answers: d a b c d a

(D) Ferris wheel.  

This was Chicago’s attempt to outdo the Gustave Eiffel’s iron tower, which had been the hit of the 1889 Paris Exhibition. The 300-foot high spinning wheel was designed by Pittsburgh engineer George Washington Ferris and cost $400,000.  Ferris died of typhoid in 1896 and the original wheel was eventually scrapped.  But as we all know, the Ferris Wheel lives on—here at Navy Pier, among other places.

(A) Sally Rand.  

Sally was a fan dancer.  Her act was considered very risqué in 1933. She appeared on stage nude, holding a pair of giant ostrich feathers in front of her.  Then she paraded around the stage to the sounds of classical music. The audience never did see much of Sally’s body. She was arrested for indecent exposure, beat the rap, and became famous.

(B) The Age of Discovery.

The 1992 fair was supposed to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage and the 100th anniversary (almost) of the Columbian Exposition.  It was first proposed during the Byrne administration in 1980.  But after a 1984 New Orleans Fair lost big money, Illinois politicians became skeptical.  The fair idea was killed during the Washington administration in 1985.

(C) Burnham Park.  

Daniel Burnham had been one of the planners of the 1893 Fair, so it was appropriate that the Chicago’s second world’s fair was staged in the new park bearing his name.  The Century of Progress was supposed to run only in 1933.  But when the fair actually turned a profit, it was extended for another summer.  

(D) He was a serial killer who carried out his crimes during the Fair.  

Mudgett was better known by his alias, Dr. H.H. Holmes. He owned the notorious "murder castle" a few miles west of the fairgrounds where an unknown number of people—perhaps as many as 200—were murdered. 

(A) the main buildings were painted white.  

At night the building were illuminated by Mr. Edison’s new electric lights, and made a dazzling display.  One of the best accounts of the Columbian Exposition is Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City—which also tells the story of America’s most notorious serial killer.  

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