Sandburg's Hometown

June 17, 2013

Original Ferris Wheel at the 1893 Columbian Exhibition, Chicago, 1893

The World's Columbian Exhibition

By Barbara Schock 

The Columbian Exposition was held in Chicago during the summer of 1893. It was a world’s fair in honor of the four hundredth anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ touching land in the Western Hemisphere. Unfortunately, there had been so much bickering between the large cities and congressional leaders about the location of the exhibition, it was a year late. Eventually, Chicago was designated the site of the fair.

The fair was meant to show the rest of the country and the world that Chicago had survived the fire of 1871 and had become a center of commercial and artistic activity.

Many communities in the Midwest provided exhibits and expertise for the displays and events at the fair. Seven hundred Galesburg public school children created examples of their school work. These were bound into volumes which were sent to the fair for showing when it opened on May 1st.

The April 4, 1893, Republican-Register reported the work of the students was on display at the high school on South Broad Street. The second floor hallway was filled with eight tables on which the works of each grade were displayed. Photographs of the members of each class were included.

The work covered the subjects of geography, zoology, natural philosophy, drawing, penmanship and manual training. An array of pieces of furniture were also in the exhibit. The newspaper mentioned a dresser by Edwin Scott, a hall rack by Ralph Roodstrum, a writing desk by Charles Redebaugh and a table by John Bridge. All the pieces of furniture were made of oak and heavily carved.

D.V. Purington, president of the Purington Paving Brick Company of Galesburg, had proposed an exhibit of the different styles of brick paving at the Columbian Exposition. The Republican-Register said “This is a matter in which our citizens can well afford to take a personal interest. The splendid brick factories are advertising Galesburg as nothing else is. It is hoped that the plan will be perfected at an early date, that the whole world may have an opportunity to see in useful combinations, from raw to perfected materials, the products of our brick yards.”

There were many “firsts” at the fair, including the huge Ferris Wheel, invented by George Washington Gale Ferris, a descendant of one of Galesburg’s founders; the “Pledge of Allegiance” to the United States flag; shredded wheat breakfast cereal and Cracker Jack popcorn.

Carl Sandburg and his family knew only that which they read in the newspapers about the World’s Fair. They were not among the 27.5 million people who entered the grounds and responded with awe and enthusiasm. Henry Ward, a barbershop porter like Sandburg, did go to the fair for three days. When he arrived back in Galesburg, he told the other boys about his experiences. The boys listened to Henry and asked him questions for two hours. Afterward, they felt as if they had experienced the fair as well. They were reassured that there was an actual fair up in Chicago.

Sandburg's Hometown
Date Title
June 17, 2013 The World's Columbian Exhibition
June 10, 2013 Fruit Short-Cake
June 3, 2013 Horatio Alger, Author
May 27, 2013 Memorial Day, 1887
May 20, 2013 Professor Jon W. Grubb
May 13, 2013 Beginnings of Lombard University
May 6, 2013 Young Sandburg’s View of Lombard College
April 29, 2013 Thinking
April 22, 2013 Robert Colville, Master Mechanic
April 15, 2013 The Galesburg Opera House
April 8, 2013 Grocery Stores and Sample Rooms
April 1, 2013  A Hearty  Breakfast 
March 25, 2013  The Lost Wallpaper Legend 
March 18, 2013 Martin G. Sandburg
March 4, 2013 The Edison Talking Machine
February 25, 2013 Joe Elser, Civil War Veteran
February 18, 2013 Remember the Maine...
February 11, 2013 Lincoln's Birthday
February 4, 2013 Curiosity
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