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World Columbian Exposition

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The World Columbian Exposition (also called World's Columbian Exposition), a World's fair, was held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's discovery of the New World. Chicago had beaten New York City, Washington, D.C. and St. Louis, Missouri for the honor of hosting the fair. During the competition to win the fair, Charles A. Dana, editor of the New York Sun, dubbed Chicago "that windy city."

Opening ceremonies for the fair were held on October 21, 1892, but the fairgrounds were not actually opened to the public until May 1, 1893. The fair ran until October 30, 1893. In addition to recognizing the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the New World, the fair also served to show the world that Chicago had risen from the ashes of the Great Chicago Fire which had destroyed much of the city in 1871.

The exposition as located in Jackson Park and on the Midway Plaisance on 630 acres. The layout of the fairgrounds was created by Frederick Law Olmstead and the architecture of the buildings was under the direction of Daniel Burnham. Most of the buildings were based on classical architecture and the area taken up by the fair was known as "The White City". Of the more than 200 buildings erected for the fair, the only one which still stands is the Palace of Fine Arts. From the time the fair closed until 1920, the building housed the Field Columbian Museum (now the Field Museum of Natural History[?]). In 1931, the building re-opened as the Museum of Science and Industry.

The World Columbian Exposition was the first world's fair with an area for amusements which was separate from the exhibition halls. This area, concentrated on Midway Plaisance, included carnival rides, including the first Ferris Wheel, built by George Ferris[?]. This wheel was 250 feet high and had 36 cars, each of which could accommodate 60 people. One of the cars held a band which played whenever the wheel was in motion. Another popular Midway attraction was the "Street in Cairo," which included the popular exotic dancer known as Little Egypt[?].

Forty-six nations participated in the fair, which drew nearly 26 million visitors.

Three days before the fair was scheduled to close, Chicago mayor Carter Harrison, Sr. was assassinated by a disgruntled office seeker, putting a damper on the fair's closing ceremonies.

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