1893 World’s Fair
Chicago Tribune April 4, 1890
THE CIRCUS TENT PLAN.
The plans submitted to the Real-Estato Board by Architect Jenison for placing the World’s Fair exhibition under a roof covering a space of 190 acres, supported from a center pole 1,000 feet high, like a huge circus tent, are ingenious, but are they not and totally irrelevant so far as the purposes of such a Fair are concerned!
A round building like a large tent, 3,000 feet in diameter, or as far as from Michigan Avenue to Franklin Street.
Center Pole: 1,492 feet high. Elevators in pole rise 1,000 feet.
Galleries: 75 feet wide
Entrances from outside only on first gallery.
Under First Gallery six tracks for Railroad Exhibits.
First Gallery a Grand Boulevard for driveway, cafes, etc., etc.
Second Gallery for Race Track, 1¾ miles long
Twenty-four stairways from first gallery down to main floor
Grand Canal, 150 feet wide, with 24 bridges.
Picture Galleries in fire proof vaults under high part of amphitheatre.
Amphitheatre in center, 600 feet in diameter, 60,000 seats.
Even admitting that there are no engineering impossibilities in the way, that the huge structure could be safely anchored to the piles upon which it is proposed to rest, and that its corrugated iron or canvas roofing could be made to resist the action of high winds over a quarter of a mile up in the air, even then we submit that the vast tent would be totally unsuited to the objects of a World’as Fair, however ingenious or successful it might be as a sky-scraper. erected for the purpose of beating the Eiffel Tower.
A structure of this kind, in the first place, would violate every canon of good taste and prove to be an artistic and architectural abomination. The charm of the Paris Exposition largely consisted in the varying architectural lines and artistic decorations of the detached buildings, each one having been constructed and ornamented with the idea of relevancy to the use or purpose for which it was designed. This could not be secured in this circus plan. To combine different styles of adornment and of architecture in one building would only result in a hodge-podge that would be ridiculous. Again, how could exhibition be made to the best effect in such a building! Where would the acres of pictures be hung, for instance, so that they could be easily seen and studied to the best advantage? How would the statuary be disposed. Where would the music-hall be
located? What would be done With the machinery, which requires strong ceilings and supports for its miles of shafting? What could be eone with the numerous articles which must be hung up and with others which must have rooms to themselves in order to be properly displayed? In such a building it would be absolutely necessary to have walls, partitions, and compartments, but these would at once destroy the line of sight and the effect intended of 190 acres of space would be destroyed.
Again, the Federal Government wants to erect its own building, and there may be foreign Governments which will want to do the same, as twenty of them did at Paris, and may not fancy dumping their into this huge circus tent with its hundreds of rings.
Jenison Tent Plan
Architect Jenison estimates that his building would cost $6,000,000. If it did not come nearer $20,000,000, we should be surprised, and in the end what should we have? A building that would never satisfy exhibitors; that would not show exhibits to the best advantage; that would mix things up in an incongruous manner—pictures and machinery, and goods, statues, and locomotives, thrashing machines and bric-a-brac, etc., that would distract, confuse, and tire the visitor; and that would sacrifice all ideas of good taste merely to beat the Eiffel Tower.
Chicago Tribune April 4, 1890
ARCHITECT JENISON S .
Englneers Speak Favorably of It-An Aus-
trian Repre Here.
Mr. E. S. Jenison’s plans for a Wl orld s Fair building covering 1’0 acres are – Ing much ana discussion. The vital points to be consideree are the of materials and the limits of strains, both pos- and actual. A T’iBt:UNE reporter yes- terday interviewed a number of civil and mechanical engineers who are authorities as to whether Mr. Jenisouns idea was feasible.
-To swing that roof would be equivalent to building a bridge span 3,00) feet long,” said C. L. Strobel, Chief Engineer for the Keystono Bridge company. “No such span was ever built. The roof would have to be constructed for such a span. Can it be done! Yes.”
-I see no difficulties in the project but what engineering skill can ,” said J. F. Wallace, Superintendent for E. L. Corthell and a bridge expert.
‘” With time and money you can bridge the Atlantic Ocean,” exclaimed Gcorge S. Mor- rison. “Everytning is possible to engineer- ing within the limits of the strength of materials.”
` Is this!”
“Yes. But you know the story of the philosopher who asserted that he could con- struct a lever to move the earth. According to accurate calculation it would take him over a billion years to move the earth one inch. Now, this scheme is so great a departure fronm the conventional that there may be enormous difficulties in the way of carrying it out in a limited time. But it is a good idea and de- serves careful investigatIon. If I were to build that tower, though, I’d make its base 300 feet in diameter instead of sixty-slx.”
” I haven’t examined the plans, but I don’t see how it call be done,” said A. Gottlieu. *’ Tho tower is too high and the load ol the roof too great.”
” There is no question as to the ability of engineers to construct the ,” said L. E. Cooley. ” The only question is one ot ex- . There may be some problems as to detail somewhat unprecedented in charac- ter, and each engineer would have his own ideas as to how they should Do worked out.”
” It is possible to swing the roof Mr. Joni- son proposes,” said WV. J. Karner.
i’ The plan is worthy of investigation and consideration,” said Benezette Williams. ” There are too many good points about it for it to be passed over lightly. Of course, a of that size can be s%% ung. It is just ldm swinging a of that length of span.”
Mr. B. Ludwig of Vienna, Austria, was at the Auditorium Hotel yesterday, being the of any Euroveani firm to reach Chicago to for an exhibit at the World’s Fair. lie has been traveling for in the East for some time, but tevan Chicago was chosen as the Fair site lie re- ceived instructions from his father, one of the wealthiest and most ;l of Aus-
manufacturers, to come at to this
city and report all that could be learned of importance to European exhibitors. lie wan asked yesterday as to the probable extent and importance of the foreign exhibit.
— The of Austria and Germany,” he said, – will , and those of countries probably. tar exceed both in size and beauty the exhibits they made last year at Paris. Austria will make a su- perb display. W e have not yet the size and beauty of Chicago, nor have we grasped the fact that, with a historv of scarcely ifty years, she can be of great un- portance. hut for all that I should not be if the exhibit ate shall send you should prove even grander than you desire to nave compared with your own.”
Chicago Tribune, May 10, 1890
DR. CHARLES B. S INTEREST-
LETTER TO THE PiUBLZC.
lie Bidlenles the Jenlhon, Circns-Tent
Scheme and Declares the One-Bouilding: Plan Monstronu In Every Sense of the Word-No 5iere Experimnent and No Alagnified Cnrlouity-Shop Wanted-The Lake-ront No I’lmoe for the Great lx- hibition.
To the People of Chicago: I desire to say a word against tho adoption by the World’s Fair directors of any plans for such a mon- ster as that proposed by E. S. Jeni- son & Co.. and also against the selection ot the Lake-Front Park as the site. this is not because I am in any way selfishly Interested, but because I have the success of the great at heart.
The *’one-building” scheme is monstrous in every sense of the word. Even an attempt to make two or three mammoth structures suffice would be . ApjDearances alone go a great way toward making glorious tri- umph on one hand, or miserable failure on the other, as regards all big shows. A glance at any of the comprehensive views of the late French Exposition, appear- ing as colored prints in the peri- of Paris, will very fitly serve to ver- ify this statement. Woat opportunity would Messrs. Jenison & Co.’s great lummox of a shed afford for pleasing effect, either from w.thin or ? An exposition in such a would lo.k like a magnified curiosity- shop, confusion worse confounded. Then tnere Is tile undeniable riskof wind or strain, heat of the sun, of snow (for it must be dedicated in ), or some other cause, not to mention fire, which, in case of the -New Y:ork Crystal palace, put an awful end to one of your indestructible “un- der-one-roof ” expositions. What a holocaust to Columbus Mr. Jenison et al. would have to dream over for tile rest of their days should fire get a fair start in the evolved production of the germ now swelling in their fertile br.:ins! Beside3, being an experiment, there are, , two vcr-, uncertain items to be considered in connection with it- : cost and time of . rire hrst maV be inordinate as to , and the last as to . l tih former would seriously embarrass tile disposing to ad- vantage of materials, the latter might prove a UaMIper to ;ie otherwise of tLe Exposition. Inh State Capi- tol at Albany, X. Y., ind the BrookLyn B!-;Oze are both monuments to the folly of nice calculation relative to big structures, less novel, on the part of great archi- tects and engineers. Seeing that no such colossus could ever consistently be retained und by tle city, tne between trie cost of its erection and tile price rc- ceived for the material, upon its demolition, must in great measure be the city s loss; for tire reason that a goodly share o1 thoe fund devoted to buildings-say, between (1 and ‘2,oU,00X)- might bo devoted to a grand permanent edifice for tne people-a sort of pan-, consecrated to pleasurable in- struction end laudable amusement. Such a .na I suggested last summer in a letter to tire Chairman of tbe s Fair Execu- tive Committee. Besides its more last ng uses, this would most fittingly serve toe purposes not only of this but of any future exposition. Moreover, it is highly probable that the Government at Washinaton with many States and will desire to erect of their own after their several notions of . Much of the interest at the last Paris Exposition centered in tire separate buildings and displays of outside colonies and other nations. Let us, then, not interfere with wishes so praise worthy. And we shall have corn palaces bluegrass palaces, cotton palaces, palaces, etc., to behold which, of themselves, it were well worth a trip from the .
We, as a Nation, have the name of being far behind in of taste snd culture- much farther, perhaPs, than is really lie
case; we are characterized by a tendency, in most instances, to subordinate our con- ceptions of tile to our ideas of the strictly practicaL Let us, therefore, deal more liberally in this, the greatest parade of our lives, and try not to outrage tue dainty sentiments of Your homme d .
AGAINST THE LAKE-FRONT PARK.
As to lale-Y’ront l ark as a site, the idea would seem to be equally as – ous. In Chicago, of all cities, who should for a a planI Whyshould we go to the trouble and expense of piling and the lake when we have a site so pat to the purpose and, at this moment, prac- tically ready for the placing of the build- Again, let us reflect unon – ances. To attempt to carry out big scheme to the letter tne Columou6 Exposi- tion must be a success from an artistic point of view as well as on the grounds of mere magnitude. Tlhe natural thought and fancy relative to this Fair comprehends it as a veritable city in , embracing, be- sides a multitude of attractive and imposing buildings, long vistas, vast , broad Wallis and drives, grace- lul fountains, wide Dool of water for , large campuses of gravel, or turf, for military maneuvers, rings for the showing oi stock. race courses. gymnasiums, groves of living trees, and gardens of – fruits and flow;rs. buildings must be happily distributed over a suitably – , so th1y mav be set off to thle utmost by their -the fulP- est in the relations and grounds-and the entrances and exit s must oc numerous and on all sides.
Touching the proposition to the various departments of the Exposition by miles of it thoroughly impracticable. On the contrary. there are reasons fur desiring aL certain of the com- ponent parts. There should be one grand system, not only as to tt things shown aiid the of showing them, but also as to the massing of for construction, thc superintendence of Letting all into shape, the bringing of articles for exhibi- tmon, and ? them in place, not to men- tion tle care of floors and grounds-in short, the whole working system.
The space in view is not so cramped but that tile non-artistic can be placed at such a distance from that one need never disturb the other-the galleries of painting and sculpture so far from tile cattle- pens that the bellowing of aI bull could never drown tue ringing of mil , ano tno great music halil from tue poultry-yards to prevent the shrieks and moans of a; Wla- overture from fright- the hens offe teir nests.
I maintain that Jackson Park, with its 675 acres of available lana, its front- age of two and a half miles on Lake Alich. , etc., is the ideal of a site for aL gigantic exposition. Or, if its area is not great enough to accommodate every feature of tile Fair, let the extend outside along that reserve or park lands serving to coII- nect the two great southorn pleasure grounds, and known as tao Midwvay Plaisancc-a strip more than a wide, and fully a mie long. rhoe French Exposition of ‘S9 was too large for tthe Champ de Mars, and was obliged to along contiguous boulevards and along the of the Seine. Should all not – and if all the exhibits be on a scale so vast as that lately proposed for the live stock (to cover 500 acres)- let it extend on Into Washington Park, even, perchance, the inclosure of the Wsashlington Park Club might be called into requisition, in all some 2,000 acres. So that in reality there is slight probability of the needs of the Fair in this respect the Midway Plaisance.
PREFERS JACKSON PARK.
At Jackson Park comparatively little has been done by way of adornment. So much tne better, in this instance, for both the l air and the park. Ai yet the items of im- provement have been the putting in of the granite protection for the lake and the 2 in back of it for a walk and a drive- all, even now, well on completion. Faury the of this location-the build- inus4 ll having been set well back from the lale. and a broad walk, flanked by a broad , constructed tro whole length of tuo shore. and toe water . grand, blue, rnd beautiful, away ti tho eastern horizon. What could be finer! Picture the – itan throng as, day after day, it rs upon this ample quay! How intensely animate! Hlow Wildly chromatic! How popular tnis feature will be! How almost essential to the Fair I We may call it the Columbus quay or the San Domingo drive or tine . Tuen we could have naval reviews, lite-saving exercises, pyrotechnic displays; indeed, ail aquatic Iles tournaments in . Yet, tiere ‘are those who would have the Ex’osition nut down t*ere in the Lale-Front Park. amidst all the grime and soot of the city, cluttered up behind breakwaters, hooted and sneezed at by tugs and barges; smoked, befuddled,
and beman[ bV locomotives, and de- ormed by car-tracks.
As for to the site in – tion, that is easy. Why, the road alone could the end, to say noth- ing of the immense facilities of existing and projected steam and horse surface roads, cable, and “L” lines, and a fleet of hand- some and commodious ol the lake. The latter means , undoubtedly be large- ly in vogue, affording, as it a unique view of the city, of the luke. and of the Fair grounds. Putting tno capacity of these united methods at a reasonably low , allows for the comfortable carrying to and fro of 300,000 persons a day; and, in view of American enterprise, and faculty for con- thi; could easily be doubled. Also, of the number will find own modes of conveyance. Right here, by the way, I would suggest a pian for expediting matters as regards the of carriages. Off at a convenient distance, along one of the drives of taO park, will be a great carriage stand, where the ve- hicles will all be drawn up in open rows, sido by side, and all facing a given point, where is situated the bureau of arrival. An ado- qu:ite police force will be detailed for the regulation of the carriage system. Onl reaching the , both occupants and driver are furnished with in the usual way, said checks to bear, besides tha num- bers, certain printed instructions. Rising above tne location of the bureau is a tal; frame-work im which large , easily readable from the carriage- stand are slid. There is a coi- for the figures quickly and accurately, and at night they are brig- il- luminated. Each driver is to keep an eye on this indicator, and when be sees the num- her corresponding with on his cheek he is to fall in line to take up his . Owing to our system of boulevards,
to the exposition will be much in favor. And how. pray, could this be carried out down at the Lasee Front barkl Another , by the way. It would c eminently just anid proper for the city to fix tle rates ot hire for all public conveyances during the thinc or the Exposition. A live-and-let-live system of charges will, by popularizing this kind of locomotion. fully make up for any little reduction.
So tar from the trip to Jackson Park being an inconvenience, it will, in most every in- stauce, be an of the day s or evening s enjoyment. Even if it nut. no one ever hesitate on account of a thing so slight. Our own people vill have be- conic so familiar With the place ana the modes of access thereto that will net mind, while as to strangers, they have come to Cnicago to do the Exposition, amid they will never ston to huo fault with such an ; indeed, they would – go much farther if need be. At tho Lake Front Park. however, Whil it. is , if, under circumstances, there would be a larger attendance, let but a serious casualty occur on account of the obstructed and restricted surroundings- and such would here be -Uen good-by to patronage either from home or abroad. Bear in mina wbat happened here at a little local celebration only a year aro. Aside from all this, to have the fair in the heart of tne city would most grievously inu- pone the circulation in the streets, thus proving an eternal and unmitigable nuisance.
SOME ARiGUMENTS ADI)UCED.
A most conclusive in favor of a South Side location one near the lako is the and attractiveness general ly of the ro::ds and thorough that way from the center of the city. Goine north or west from the hotels visitors would be sub- jected to the aud delays caused by tee condition of travel in the whole- salo streets and shipping quarters, and to the ince5saat hindrances and vexations incident to the crossing of the rivers. Tnis point re- quires no discussion.
Moreover, there is the probability of great advantage to the city accruing from the use of Jackson Park as a site for thle Fair. Certain of the works, such as permanent , drives. , , grottoes, gardens, etc., can bo so laid out and as to serve both as accessories to the Exrposition and as future embellishments to the park. Thus, by having thte placing of these things cone its as possible on the of the contemplated improvement of this region, what is now in the main nut a dreary waste. and likely under ordinary conditions lung- to remain so, could very soon become the fairest of all Chicago’s many beautiful pleas- ure grounds.
There is already provision made about two- thirds of the way down the park sh-re for a large landing-docK, and I Would suggest that, in addition, a big or stone pier bn got in readiness not far away; this, too, allowed to after .’;S. Since it is pretty certain that both the city and the State will be asked to contribute to the fund, why may they not do so with the understanding that the money thus advanced be applied on ob- jects that will stand, not only as fitting mon- uments of the great celebration, but as splendid ornaments to our city as weil as useful and instructive acquisitions to our .
There only remains the question of permis- sion to convert the park to the services of tue Fair. It there be a law that would pre- vent lae use of public lands so little nm- proved for such a purpose. and if tuere re- ally be no way ot this aw, then itis a wretchedly poor law, and the sooner it is the better.
DR. CHARL ES HI. BEARD.