What are these people looking at?
They are guests at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition, standing atop the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building and looking down at the extraordinary "White City" created for the fair. (The photo is from the Chicago Public Library Special Collection Division). Looking was very much a part of the 19th century exposition experience--the White City housed endless exhibits and demonstrations of America's cultural and technological progress--but looking from such a height was a decided sensation for the time. Famed Chicago architects Burnham and Root had perfected the means to build higher and higher buildings on Chicago's unstable soil, but few Americans had ever set foot in a skyscaper. (Hot air balloons were another option, but they were equally unaccessible to most people). The rooftop walkway on the Manufactures building, as well as the Exposition's celebrated Ferris Wheel (the original!), enabled some people to have, literally, a new perspective of the landscape.
|The Exposition's Ferris Wheel|
|From the Ferris Wheel Looking East, Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection|