1921 Pageant of Progress | 1922 Pageant of Progress
In 1921 and 1922, Municipal Pier (Navy Pier, today) hosted the Pageant of Progress, billed as the “greatest collection of business and industrial exhibits this city has seen” since the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. The two-week summer pageants drew hundreds of thousands of visitors who were wowed by such disparate entertainment as mock pirate attacks, sky-diving stunts, speedboat races, the advance of firefighting equipment through time, a typing contest (126 words per minute was good enough to win) and, of course, Dental Day.
This following article appeared in Fort Dearborn Magazine, March, 1921.
Coming Pageant of Progress-A Second World’s Fair
Development of the Arts and Industries of the United States to Be Portrayed in Chicago from July 30 to August 14 in America’s Greatest Exposition Building-the Municipal Pier. Hundreds of Thousands of Guests Expected
The fortnight from July 30 to August 14 this year is to see the inauguration of what promises to be a great annual event in Chicago, bringing hundreds of thousands of vIsItors from all parts of the country and exciting interest even in foreign lands. The occasion is to be known as “The Pageant of Progress,” and will be held under the joint auspices of the Chicago Boosters’ Publicity Club, the Chicago Association of Commerce, the Health and Sanitation Exhibition, and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.
Chicago’s Pageant of Progress at Municipal (Navy) Pier
In the new Municipal Pier, where the Pageant is to be held, Chicago has the greatest exposition building in the world. So vast is its capacity that it has hardly yet been realized. Any ordinary event would be completely lost in so gigantic a building. Like some vast leviathan of old, this new $5,000,000 structure, with ribs of steel and carapace of concrete, stretches its length for a mile out into Lake Michigan, terminating in twin towers, whose lights at night suggest colossal eyes.
Twelve thousand square feet of floor space will be available for exhibits, which will be broadly divided into sixteen exhibition sections, each 300 feet long. Access to the exhibition hans is afforded by a magnificent eighty-foot driveway, and abundant transportation will be available by street car, motor bus, or boat service. The pier is already known as a famous recreation center, its appearance on ordinary occasions being not unlike some of the resorts along the Riviera in Italy, where happy thousands throng to listen to the strains of music and to enjoy the breezes from the Mediterranean.
The entrance to the pier is to be buried amid the great floral displays to be made by Chicago horticultural interests. Chicago as always been the “Garden City:’ and leads the world in floral culture and the seed industry. Another form of decoration will be the “Rainbow Arch,” symholical of Chicago as the gateway of Hope and Opportunity. The Evolution of Light will be one of the prominent features of display, and the decking of the pier and the adjacent lake front with garlands of electric lights wiII make the night scenes comparable to the Carnival of Venice or our own Court of Honor at the World’s Fair.
Poster Stamp of the Pageant of Progress
“Three-fourths educational and one-fourth confetti,” were the proportions of seriousness and of gaiety indicated by l\Iayor Thompson. who originated the idea of the Pageant, as his concept of what this great festival ought to mean to the people.
Chicago. as the world’s great central market. can make a more complete exbibit of essential industries than any other city in the’world, ~ot only will this exhibit have an immense commercial value, but it will also have a surpassing historic interest, as showing the development of great industries, which are the wonder of the world Fair.
Community Singing in the Great Auditorium at the Municipal Pier
Take for instance the Packing Industry, in which Chicago’s pre-eminence is uncontested, not only will it be shown in all the completeness of modern equipment, by means of film and photograph, and actual product, but it will also be shown from its early beginnings. The children of the present may in this way know how their fathers and grandfathers labored to perfect this mighty industry by means of which Chicago fed the armies of the world in the late war.
Chicago, as the greatest lumber yard in America, in visualizing the lumber industry as a whole, will bring the lumber jacks and log rollers from the northern woods, and demonstrations of how logs are rafted down a river will be given.
The fur industry, which was one of the first ever practiced in the Mississippi Valley, linking us with the Aborigines on the one hand and with the French and English on the other, will be shown in its every phase, from the fur-bearing animals in their natural state, to the finished garment in the latest mode.
Of late years Chicago has come into great prominence in the production and distribution of steel. because of its central IUeation for the assembly C!f the necessary ore, coal and limestone, and its importance as a distributing center and labor market. The visualizing of this basic industry is always of interest.
Agricultural machinery will be illustrated as only Chicago can illustrate it, in all states and stages of its development, for it was in Chicago that the laborsaving devices have been manufactured which have lifted the load from the shoulders of the bread-winners of the world, and extended the blessings of civilization throughout the West.
Chicago is the greatest furniture market in the United States. The manufacture of furniture is carried on here on such a scale that it will be possible to show not only processes but products of furniture manufacture in a way enlightening to the public and advantageous to the trade.
The clothing industry is conducted on a colossal scale in Chicago, and it will be easy for the manufacturers to make a display which will constitute a visualization of human attire from the fabric to the finished garment. and a fashion parade which will rival the classic salons of Paris.
The shoe men of Chicago will avail themselves of this opportunity to make an authoritative display not only of methods of manufacture but of styles in men’s and women’s shoes for Chicago is coming to be known for its high grade products in this department of dress as well.
How moving pictures are made for commercial uses and the manufacture of aeroplanes in Chicago, will be an educational as well as entertaining feature to old and young alike.
Chicago, as the gateway of, the world’s richest valley, is the natural center for the display of food-products sufficient to nourish not only this nation but many nations. In like manner, coal. iron: oil, cotton and tobacco, and many other useful products which find their outlet through this greatest of distributing centers, will naturally be represented in the Pageant of Progress.
The whole project of the Lakes-to-the-Gulf deep waterway will be visualized by which we shall one day bring the Atlantic to the Middle West and ship our produce direct to Europe, South America, and the Far East. One of the results of the World’s Fair was found by travelers to be that there was not a place anywhere in the world touched by commerce and industry where the name of Chicago was not known, and known as an advantageous point with which to make connections. The whole problem of the world today is how to deal in the most direct manner in regard to the great products vital to life. It will be only a rightful garnering of the seed so generously sown by the projectors of the World’s Fair, if Chicago, through this Pageant of Progress, succeeds in opening the way for this direct dealing, for the pouring out through these natural channels of the wealth of which the Creator has made for her the natural custodian, the natural distributor.
The care of the human machine will be scientifically shown in the Temple of Health, by means of what is practically an expansion of the Health and Sanitation Exhibition at the Coliseum last year. This exposition the past year under the direction of Dr. John Dill Robertson was one of the most successful events in the history of Chicago.
Progress along intellectual in the Hall of Knowledge lines will be illustrated by displays from the schools, academies, colleges and universities. Prominent among the latter will be the University of Illinois, which will show the contributions which Illinois is making to scientific farming, chemical research, and economics generally. The University of Chicago, Northwestern, and Loyola Universities and other well known educational institutions will also participate actively.
Tbe Chicago Historical Society will exhibit objects illustrative of the entire panorama of the development of the Middle West from a trackless prairie-land traversed only on foot or in Indian canoes, to the center of population of the United States, and the world’s greatest railroad center and natural port.
Music, a realm in which Chicago is also coming to the front, will be represented by a mighty chorus made up from various civic organizations.
The manufacture of musical instruments, in which Chicago leads the world, will be shown in well-organized displays.
Chicago’s famous athletic associations will provide a program of events unparalleled in the realm of sport and general diversion.
A marine parade of more than a thousand craft, including ocean-going steamers, and yachts, will nightly transform the lake front into a water carnival. At the head of the parade. a boat from Quebec and one from New Orleans will symbolize the “Wedding of the Waters,” as Venice celebrates her “Marriage with the Sea,” in her annual carnival. Thousands of seats on the roof of the Pier will overlook this spectacle. In the daytime there will be water-jousting and other aquatic sports, and at night beautiful electrical displays on Lake Michigan.
The reception committee will impersonate typical citizens of the past, such as John Kinzie, Gurdon Hubbard and John Wentworth. The future will be indicated by an enormous procession of the sons and daughters of leading civic organizations, under the title of the “1955 Parade,” and on the lake front will be the completed model of the City Beautiful as designed by the Chicago Plan Commission.
Pageant of Progress Poster
Chicago Tribune, July 31, 1921
BLAZE OF GLORY OPENS CHICAGO PROGRESS SHOW
Pageant Cheers All U. S., Davis Says.
HOW IT STARTED
Boston, Mass., July 30.-Vice President Calvin Coolidge today started the Pageant of Progress in Chicago by throwing an electric switch in the lobby of the Hotel Touralne in this cIty. A crowd watched the ceremony.
It was originally planned that the Chicago pageant should be started from Washington, but VIce President Coolidge’s trip to Massachusetts necessitated a change. The president is a guest at the home of Frank W. Stearns at Swampscott and will enjoy clam digging and other shore pastimes before journeying to Plymouth to attend the Pilgrim ceremony.
When the vice president arrived in Boston he was met by William Donovan, a telegraph operator, who escorted him to the hotel. The watch used by Donovan to time the switch throwing operation was that used to time President Wilson when he threw a switch at Cornish, N. H., in 1915 to release a 400 foot flag at the opening of the world’s fair in San Firancisco.
Rockets spouting globes of vari-colored radiance, the crash of fireworks and bombs, the homeward tramp of legions of tired feet, the roar of motors and cars, the dimming of miles of lights-and the inaugural ceremonies of Chicago’s first Pageant of Progress were ended.
Beginning at daylight, when tho first notes of the reveille came from the camp of the Black Horse troop on the lake shore, on through the opening of the pier exposition itself and the four mile parade that heralded its inaugural, the day was one huge spectacle.
By 8 o’clock the crowds began to cluster ’round the gate of the Municipal pier. They seemed to fear there would not be room enough for all. Inside were the clatter of hammers and the rip-rip of saws as carpenters put the last touches on their weeks of work.
Coolidge Opens Big Show.
At 10 a. m. Vice President Calvin Coolidge, seated at his desk in Boston, touched a button. The huge fire gongs in all parts of the pier clanged the summons and the gates swung open. Artillery belched smoke and flame; a giant seaplane rose slowly from the lake. The signals awoke all the city s whistles to sudden life and the. crash of bombs dropped from the air to the waters near the pier added to the pandemonium. for thirty minutes it continued.
Then Secretary of Labor James J. Davis, spokesman for President Harding, who was introduced by Mayor Thompson, rose to his feet in the pier auditorium.
“Pageant Cheers All U. S.”
In his address—there were a thousand persons listening—he sounded the keynote for the exposition:
Let me tell you that your great city of Chicago has never given a more inspiring demonstration of its qualities than in the organization of this Pageant.
You quietly hearten the timid With a record of a progress that staggers the mind when we consider in what a short time that progress been achieved.
In a time of depression, when the nation seems numb and despondent and without the will to lift a finger in recovery, you stage this Pageant, as if it to ask: ‘You, who have wrought this miracle of progress, the most glorious of any in history, do you dare to falter now?
On this platform with thle secretary were the mayor, D. F. Kelly, vice president of the Chicago Boosters’ club; Dr. John Dill Robertson, and a host of navy and army officers.
Fitzmorris leads Parade.
Meanwhile, three miles away, the south end of Grant park was slowly filling the with the units of what is said to have been one of Chicago’s greatest parades. And as the noon whistles gave a signal it began to wend its way north to Lake Shore drive.
Chief Charles C. Fitzrmorris, riding a chestnut stallion, was grand marshall. Then came the mayor, throwing roses, and then the newly organized Chicago Women’s band, making its first Public appearance. With flaming skirts and capes lined with white satin and with jaunty little tams perched on their heads, they made a great impression on the crowds.
Then came the parade pageant, like its contemporary on the pier, one of the nation’s progress. There was the brougham used in the campaigns of Lincoln, followed by the latest style of motor car. There were relics of Chicago’s early days, loaned by the Chicago Historical society: there were exhibits of every modern industry.
Some of the floats marvels of floral decorations, including those that contained the twenty regional “queens,” one of whom be crowned “Queen of the Pageant.”
COPPERS AND BRASS
In full force the Chicago Policeman’s Band yesterday (July 31, 1921) entertained thousands on the Municipal Pier. In almost marvelously short time regular members of the police force, hitherto unaccustomed to playing band instruments, while at the same time performing evolutions of the march, have become capable musicians, ranking with the best musical organizations in the city.
Great Crowds at Pier.
Great crowds, estimated by some at as many as a million persons, formed twin lines along tho streets to watch the parade, and fully half followed it to the pier and neighborhood. Estimates of the number who paid their way into the exposition ranged all the way from 100,000 to 225,000, the latter being the figure of the pageant publicity men.
During the afternoon the giant plane, Santa Marla, give an exhibition above the replicas of the Columbus caravels at anchor near the pier; the crowds saw the tiny speed boat, Miss Chicago, smash against the waves at sixty miles an hour. They hay a swimming race among scores of contestants; they saw yacht and power boat maneuvers, and, as dark came on, the flaming figure of a man—the “human torch”—drop through the air into the water. And then the fireworks and home.
Halls Full of Wonders.
Those who went into the exhibition halls viewed the evolution of fire fighting apparatus from its early days until the present; they saw a ton-ton pendulum of concrete swing slowly on a tiny thread of wire; they saw the making of a newspaper—THE TRInuNE—from spruce logs to the completed form. They laughed at volunteers for free massages at a complete beauty parlor; they watched the workings of a modern laundry, in which the machinery alone is worth a fortune.
There was a packing house complete, and one could trace the telephonic course of the human from transmitter in Detroit to receiver in Chicago.
Link Bridge Model There.
A hundred makes of washing machines were there. One firm had built a house of brick; another one of lumps of coke. There were complete one story cottages that one built with a monkey wrench; tiny electric railroads; huge crankshafts; a working model of the big boulevard link bridge that constantly went up and down over a glass river.
The “million dollar fur show” opened at 8 o’clock. One found last years prices had dropped somewhat. The $1,000 coat of 1920 costs only $600 now. One coat was listed at $30,000.
Radio announcements of the pageant’s opening, sent broadcast, brought many congratulatory replies. Likewise many well-wishers telegraphed their congratulations.
Today it is expected the first rush of the visitors will be underway; a record attendance is predicted.
Engineering World, July 1921
After every great action comes reaction. For the past 4 years we have had great action in business and great stimulation of prices. Now we are getting the reaction, which history shows always follows action.
Industries throughout the country began marking time. Many of them are still marking time. It is not altogether their fault. Industry needs leaders right now. The big-visioned, fore-thoughted leaders of commerce recognized that it was necessary to stop marking time, hedging and waiting to see what the other fellow was going to do.
It is for this reason that the business interests of Chicago and the country generally have cooperated so enthusiastically in the development of the Pageant of Progress Exposition. These leaders know that delay in industrial activity means valuable time lost. They know, too, that some unusual stimulus must be given business to create the demand essential for renewed prosperity.
Chicago, the great central market of the nation, is taking the lead in bringing every encouragement in her power to bear upon the revival of industry. From July 30 to Aug. 14 there will be held on our magnificent $5,000,000 Municipal Pier an exposition that will be a guiding star to all industry. It will mean a pledge of business faith to the entire nation.
Starting as a Chicago venture, it quickly grew with giant strides into a national affair as manufacturers from all over the country became interested and enthusiastic over the opportunities offered by the exposition. Now, however, the scope of the exposition has surpassed even our first glowing hopes, as it has become an international affair. The Pan-American Consular Association, representing 21 Latin- American countries, has unanimously voted to join in the Pageant of Progress with exhibits. Acting as their adviser, the U. S. Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce is now assisting in the planning of their displays, which will include rubber, coffee, sugar, hides, tropical woods and other raw
The consuls will act as hosts to visitors, each day a different country assuming the duties of welcome. Information regarding their markets will be available to our manufacturers attending the exposition, and suggestions will be made as to the cheapest and most direct ways for our manufacturers to ship goods to the various countries. The consuls will also tell of the special needs of each country so that American firms will have a wonderful opportunity of retaining the business which they have built up during the past 5 years. When it is realized that the volume of commerce with the Central and South American countries amounted to $3,256,000,000 in 1920 alone, the splendid chance available to industry in the United States can readily be seen.
There will be over 2½ miles of exhibits at the Pageant of Progress Exposition, these exhibits showing the history of many important American industries from their earliest beginnings to the present day.
The huge municipal pier, the largest exposition building in the world, extending 3000 ft. into Lake Michigan, will stage the most remarkable industrial and educational exposition ever held in this country. Sixteen sections, each 300 ft. long, have been set apart for special industries and groups of industries to show their displays. While the educational side of the exposition will be significantly pointed out, there will be a great variety of entertainments.
The automotive sections will illustrate the history of transportation, from the ox-cart to airplanes and expensively fVtted-out passenger dirigibles.
The automobile show section of the exposition will occupy greater space than the annual event at the Coliseum, and the range of exhibits will rival any display of motor cars and accessories heretofore held in the country. Due to the season of the year, the attendance of motorists from all over the country is assured. A daily demonstration on Chicago’s magnificent boulevard system will augment the visual display.
In similar fashion a comprehensive exhibit of airplanes will focus the attention of the hundreds of people who are interested in the science of aviation, either as onlookers or prospective purchasers. The newest ideas in construction and equipment will be exhibited for their edification. Nor will the important fact of public safety be overlooked. There will be several interesting features in this division.
Electricity, the motivating force of modern industry, will be shown in all its vast variety of applications. One sub-section of six booths will be devoted to the miniature representation of electric transportation in its entirety. On the floor space of the section there will be full sized electric vehicles, including a large truck, a tractor, a coupe, an industrial truck of the type used in factories, a mining locomotive and probably a street car.
Directly above these exhibits will be a panoramic painting 120 ft. in length, showing some scenes along the right of way of the Elevated and North Shore Electric roads, with a tiny model train in constant operation along the pictured track. Above this painting there will be a second painting. This will have scenes taken from along the right of way of some transcontinental railroad which has been electrified in part. This painting will show miniature power-nouses, waterfalls and tunnels, and there will be several model electric trains which run along the route and through the tunnels, which will operate continuously.
The story of lighting will be told in an interesting fashion, and several surprising exhibits will be shown to illustrate the remarkable changes which take place due to lighting effects. These exhibits have been developed as a result of many interesting experiments in the laboratories.
These are just some of the many exhibits which are being planned and arranged for the Pageant of Progress—a great industrial educational exposition which will bring untold visitors to our city, produce a greater demand for our goods, make for better co-operation between buyer and seller, and inaugurate the much desired stimulation of production and sales.
Chicago Eight Years of Progress, 1923
THE PAGEANT OF PROGRESS
Dr. John Dill Robertson, President
Thomas E. Wilson, Vice-Pres.
Eugene R. Fisher, 2nd Vice-Pres.
Dr. F. Kelly, Treasurer
Edgar A. Jones, Secretary
Henry J. Kramer, Business Manager
An insistent demand for soup kitchens early in 1921 when unemployment was at its height in Chicago, was reasonable for the birth of the Pageant of Progress, which is now an annual event and which has become international in scope.
Mayor William Hale Thompson refused to establish soup kitchens and bread lines. He knew there was a better way out of the situation. His heart filled with pity at the privation and suffering of families, whose breadwinners were without employment. Mayor Thompson conceived the idea of holding a great exposition that would stimulate business, thus providing more jobs for the unemployed and helping to restore Chicago’s accustomed prosperity.
How the Pageant of Progress Was Started.
Filled with the “I Will” spirit, Mayor Thompson called together a number of representative Chicago business men, told them of his ideas and his plans, and asked for volunteers to help. So well did Mayor Thompson “sell” the idea. that there was an immediate and enthusiastic response. Sixteen men, each a leader in his particular industry, were appointed to head the respective divisions of the exposition. All worked without compensation.
Everyone realized that it was a stupendous undertaking. Men whose services could not be bought with mere money gladly devoted months of time, spent their own money, and applied to the fullest extent the rare executive ability which has made them leaders in their respective lines of endeavor.
Scene on Municipal Pier during Pageant of Progress, 1921
“It Can Be Done” Becomes the Rallying Cry.
Professional exposition experts, men whose business it is to organize and conduct expositions, scoffed at the thought of amateurs selling the space and conducting the great exposition. They said that a large fund of capital would be required; that an organization of experienced men would be necessary; that it simply could not be done.
But the Pageant of Progress forces adopted the slogan, “It CAN be Done,” and by hard and continuous thinking, and hard and continuous working, they accomplished the task—and the experts are still rubbing their eyes and wondering at the magic of it all, for it was the greatest exposition held in Chicago since the World’s Fair in 1893.
Exposition Proves an Unqualified Success
A million persons attended the exposition and the profits were nearly $300,000. Buyers came from all parts of the world. The Pageant brought more purchasing agents to Chicago than ever before visited the city, or probably any other city, in a like period of time, and has yielded Chicago manufacturers and jobbers large numbers of new customers and many millions of dollars; worth of additional business. Added to this were the large quantities of merchandise at retail and poured millions of dollars into the coffers of hotels, theaters, retail merchants, street car and bus lines, taxicab and livery companies, and Chicago business men generally.
Traction, railroad and coal strikes kept many persons away from the 1922 Exposition, with the result that the gate receipts were far below those of 1921, but the exhibitors were pleased, instead of a surging mass of people pushed along before the displays by the pressure of a constant stream of new arrivals, visitors stopped in front of the booths to see , taste and buy. Great crowds would have made this impossible.
Pageant officials, too, were satisfied because the Exposition proved a big business booster in spite of handicaps over which they had no control.
Pageant Foundation for Children Established From Profits
With the profits of the first two Pageants there was established the Pageant Foundation for Children, a great community dental clinic where also the eye, ear, nose and throat diseases of children will be treated. The clinic will have facilities to treat 50,000 of Chicago’s neglected children annually.
Boston has the great Forsyth Dental Institute, maintained through the philanthropy of the Forsyth brothers. It cares for the teeth of 30,000 children annually. Chicago is doing more than that, but in a different way. Through the Pageant of Progress Exposition it collects from the community the necessary funds to establish and maintain community dental service, and it is done in such a way that the community is benefitted at the time of giving the money as well as the time of receiving the service.
Future Pageants Will Provide Maintenance Funds
Community dental service, it has been estimated, will save the taxpayers of Chicago $500,000 annually. It will increase the bodily and mental vigor of thousands of school children and thereby promote the health of the whole community.
The Pageant Foundation for Children is also the home of the Chicago Training School for Home and Public Health Nursing which already has trained more than 11,000 women in home nursing.
Future Pageants of Progress will provide the means for maintaining and operating the Pageant Foundation for Children.