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, it 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 was a perfect way for the US to disprove this. In building the fair, they would be placed in direct competition with France, who had built a magnificent fair only a few years before. If Chicago could at least build a fair on par with the Paris fair, it would prove to the world that the US was a cultural, military and political force to be reckoned with. Because of the fair’s gigantic scale, it became a microcosm of the conflicts and the tenor of the times. In effect, the fair was the turning point between the old Victorian days and the modern era, technologically, culturally, politically, and in the hearts of the people of the US and the world.
The United States of the Gilded Age was not the superpower is it today. At best, it was considered a powerful manufacturing and industrial country, but little more. Culturally and politically, it was an upstart to the relatively old and established European powers of the day. At this point in history, much of the American West was still frontier country, relatively undeveloped. The North east, especially New York, was the only part of the US considered by the world to be somewhat civilized and cultured. Even what we think of as east today, most notably Chicago, was thought of as uncivilized. Getting the World’s Fair in Chicago was their chance to prove otherwise. It was also a chance for the whole country to prove its cultural power. With the Fair’s success came new respect from the world, particularly Europe. The US was no longer viewed as much as a second rate power with no culture of its own and no global influence. The fa...
... middle of paper ...
...the people of the US a glimpse of alien cultures that many of them had never heard of, much less seen and learned about. In a way, the fair was a cultural awakening for most of the people of the United States. Suddenly, people from Missouri could tell their friends and families that they had seen Camels, or men from Japan. 27 million people went to see the fair, the vast majority of them Americans. That was a little less than half of the population of the country at this time. That many people seeing cultures and people that many had never heard of would have caused a dramatic effect, transforming the people of this country into a more cultured, worldly people.
The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 was the turning point between old Victorian, provential, and backwater ways in the US, and the modern outlook and culture we enjoy today. It was built on a scale that had never been seen before. It provided technological wonders, new cultures, and a look into a brighter future. It helped to take the US from being a backwater, second rate power to a world super power. It was progressive in the labor and safety movements. In short, it was a major turning point in American history.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Erik Larson’s book Devil in the White City is full of magic and madness that has shaped the society of the late 19th century that is specific to in Chicago. The issues that have been handled through this time frame that are addressed in this book is that how Chicago was known to be the black city at first, and how the city hoped that hosting the World’s fair would increase their reputation. Secondly, the magic of a man named Daniel Burnham that did put the plans of the world fair in Chicago into life and the obstacles that he had overcame.... [tags: Literary Analysis, Erik Larson]
2299 words (6.6 pages)
- The pair of twins sat down in their homeroom class. One was gentle and charming, and the other was intelligent and had a great future in store. Being twins one would think they were very alike but secretly they were different. Sitting in homeroom no classmate would think that they were sitting next to a new definition of evil. In The Devil in the White City by Erick Larson, he decides to include different styles of ambition and appearance vs. reality to illustrate, that ambition can break one or make one and everything is not what it seems.... [tags: Literature Review]
980 words (2.8 pages)
- Sociological aspects of “The Devil in the White City” “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson was a mix between two stories that overall worked well together. The stories worked together to convey the true overall meaning of the theme good versus evil. Good and evil are seen everywhere throughout the novel, even in the most obvious of places such as the title. Good and evil, dark and light, they all stand for the same thing. White is normally found to be pure and good. By the author naming the book, The Devil in the White City, he is trying to tell the reader that the novel is about how even in truly pure places evil will follow.... [tags: Erik Larson, literary analysis]
1607 words (4.6 pages)
- Two men with two different ways of life are connected through a time period and these two words: determination and dedication. Erik Larson does a great job developing these two characters in The Devil in the White City. On one hand, Daniel Burnham is trying to build the world’s fair in Chicago, on the other H.H. Holmes is a dedicated doctor who is determined to open a hotel for the world 's fair. Burnham is determined and works diligently to get the job done, and he won’t stop for any reason. Holmes driven dedication towards this isn’t for the common reason of making money, but instead he wants to create a safe place that he can murder people.... [tags: World's Columbian Exposition]
1336 words (3.8 pages)
- The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 was America's chance to eclipse the 1889 Exposition Universelle held in Paris that had wounded the pride of our nation. With the entire world watching, endless opportunities were available to engage the impossible. One man used the opportunity the World's Fair presented to build a city that could make America proud. Another used it's eminence to help him become one of the most feared serial-killers of the time. These two men, "their fates were linked by a single, magical event" (xi).... [tags: Chicago Fair, Ferris Wheel, Murder]
555 words (1.6 pages)
- The Devil in the White City is a literary nonfiction novel that is centered around the World’s Fair in Chicago. The subtitle of The Devil in the White City is “Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America.” As Erik Larson describes so vividly, the fair did just that. From the way electricity is distributed through homes, to the length of our working hours or days in a week, to cultural icons, and amusement parks. There is a brief but fascinating link between the Fair and other inventions today.... [tags: Fair, Chicago, Murder]
630 words (1.8 pages)
- The World Fair of 1933 brought promise of new hope and pride for the representation of Chicago, America. As Daniel Burnham built and protected America’s image through the pristine face of the fair, underlying corruption and social pollution concealed themselves beneath Chicago’s newly artificial perfection. Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City meshes two vastly different stories within 19th century America and creates a symbolic narrative about the maturing of early Chicago. From first impression, Burnham found that Chicago had a murky factorial image lined with a “fantastic stink that lingered in the vicinity of Union Stock yards” (41).... [tags: Chicago, Ferris Wheel]
853 words (2.4 pages)
- The Great Fair of 1893 was held as a major achievement for its time. Huge buildings, impossible feats of engineering, a mixing of cultures, and the use of many new technologies were major aspects of its success. However, even though the builders of the fair worked against impossible odds, they required a leader, a figurehead to lead the way to success. In his book, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, Erik Larson’s portrays Burnham’s obsession with grandeur as a key part of his persona to emphasize why he was the right man for the job.... [tags: Erik Larson, Burnham]
1327 words (3.8 pages)
- ... They start small construction in 1891 but it stops shortly after. The problem is that of unions might rally against the fair. Burnham is beginning to be frustrated by needing everything approved by the committee. In the spring of 1891, Burnham is encountering many problems and one including the weight limit of soil in Jackson Park. Burnham is also getting frustrated as the architects are not getting their prints in so they can start construction. A new character is introduced here, Sol Bloom, and he is supposed to create the Midway for the fair.... [tags: chicago, architects, structures]
2535 words (7.2 pages)
- the white populous of the city. On September 26, 1906, the News put out one of its daily “EXTRAS” that indicated there had been and increasing number of attacks on white women that very day. This of course angered the whites and they sought revenge on blacks and not just the males, but any black person that they encountered on the streets of Atlanta. Although many years later it would be found out that the stories were fabricated, by afternoon a throng of thousands of white males had gathered in the streets of Atlanta looking for a fight.... [tags: White people, Black people, Race]
1735 words (5 pages)