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The Vanishing City: Excavating the Chicago World's Fair of 1893

  • Glessner House 1800 S. Prairie Avenue Chicago United States (map)

The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition lasted for only six months before its structures “vanished.” But the Fair’s permanent impact on American consumer culture, city planning, and questions around citizenry and foreignness was deeply tied to and reinforced by its ephemerality. Professor Rebecca Graff will discuss her archaeological and archival research focused on the Fair’s ephemeral “White City” and Midway Plaisance. The results of the excavation in Jackson Park revealed a robust archaeological signature of the extensive sanitary infrastructure of the Fair and, surprisingly, delicate plaster remains of the Fair’s Ohio State Building. Graff’s work links the Fair, as a catalyst for structural change and its material record, to the larger social structures of late nineteenth century America.

A special treat will be a glimpse of Graff’s excavation at the landmark Charnley-Persky House, constructed at the same time the Fair was being planned and built.

A partner program of the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

$10 per person / $8 members


Earlier Event: September 25
Courtyard Concert: Gypsy Jazz
Later Event: October 19
The Architecture of Glessner House