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Mixed opinions about the architecture

"Wherein lay, then, the compelling, exciting impression of those majestic building creations which enthralled millions of visitors to the Fair and which, in their overall appearance on light warm days, shone in the same ideal beauty as at nightfall when hundreds of thousands of glimmering, sparkling and beaming lights raised this forum of beauty to an ideal realm, doused it with dreamy light, when these forms rose through illumination to the most brilliant heights?

The judgement of the whole world has been passed on these efforts, and there has been no lack of fault-finders who, for all possible reasons, have sought damning assessments and believe they have found them. The same process has been repeated as for all particularly unique artistic creations. In contrast to some of the effusive admiration which the Fair received, the Americans declared all the buildings to be 'constructed decoration' and not 'decorated construction' wanting to indicate the predominance of the decorative element in the buildings and the weak construction thereof; undoubtedly a reproach that would have been justified for buildings which were supposed to last but not for buildings which, like the buildings at the Fair, were only intended to fulfil their purpose for one summer. Others stated that the buildings in their unreal appearance with large marble palaces represented by means of surrogate materials, wood and plastering resulted in a sham which, in a way, was typical for America, the country of sham."

Source: Franz Jaffé: Die Architektur der Columbischen Welt-Ausstellung zu Chicago 1893. Berlin 1895. Page VIII.

The last evening at the Fair:

"I find, also, in my brain, one picture that stands out clearer than all the rest: The Sunday night before the closing of the Fair I came out of the south entrance to the Manufactures Building. It was after sunset, after twilight - that time which is neither night nor day; when the warm light of the passing sun is gone, and its reflections are met and absorbed by the coming darkness - leaving a cold, clear, greenish hue.

In this setting, just over the dome of the Administration Building, was a single star. Its yellow light joined the blue of the arc-lights, and touched with a sparkle the golden statue, the white palaces, the broad steps leading down to the Grand Basin, the barge of state, the peristyle and the colonnades, but for the minute the tide of humanity was not there.

The quiet told pathetically of the long silence that was coming so soon to the 'Dream City'. The only sound was the rippling of the waves in the lagoon. Then rang out some chimes, and a bell struck the passing hour. A minute more and the spell was broken, but the picture became indelible. It can never be forgotten."

Source: White City Chips. Chicago, 11/1895. Page 5. Quoted in: Bertuca 1993. Page 371.

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The Chicago World Exposition 1893
Year: 1893City: ChicagoCountry: USA
Duration: 1st May - 30th October 1893



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