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America at the Fair: Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition Paperback – February 25, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Arcadia Publishing (February 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738525219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738525211
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 6.1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,517,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Chaim M. Rosenberg is the author of The Great Workshop: Boston's Victorian Age, and Goods for Sale: Products and Advertising in the Massachusetts Industrial Age. His collection of colorful trade cards and catalogs from the Fair form the heart of America at the Fair.

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Customer Reviews

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kathryn Atwood on April 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
There are many books about the epochal Columbian Exposition, the cultural, commercial, and technological watershed whose wonders awed the 28 million visitors who ambled through "The White City" between May and October of 1893. But one book arguably contains more detail than most others: Chaim M. Rosenberg's "America at the Fair."

For instance, I already knew that the Columbian Exposition was the first world's "electric" fair and that evening ticket-holders were thrilled by dazzling displays of electric lights. But until reading "America at the Fair," I didn't realize that Edison's General Electric Company and the Westinghouse Electric Company had been involved in a "War of the Currents" since 1883 and that Westinghouse gained not only the right to light up the Chicago fair but that it also won the "best site" award in the Electricity Building.

Most books which discuss the Fair's Women's Pavilion also mention that architect Sophie Hayden was commissioned to design the building. But, to my knowledge, none but Rosenberg's relates that because of discouragements suffered relative to her association with the Fair (including being paid significantly less than her male counterparts) Ms. Hayden suffered a breakdown and never designed another building.

Perhaps, some readers will find that Rosenberg provides too much detail at times. For instance, some might not care that the New York Life Insurance Company, one of the many insurers of the Fair in case of fire, had assets of 137 million and 224,000 policies.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Joseph B Lepiscopo Jr on September 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a fan of world's fairs and expositions I had hoped to gain new insight into the World's Columbian Exposition. I lecture to various groups about the history of fairs and the 'White City' is one of my favorite subjects. There is always something new to learn and I had hoped to gain new insight into different aspects of this event. Unfortunately I was quite disappointed. I found the book to be more like something you would find in a junior high school classroom. The writing style was rather dry and elementary at times. An example is a description of Chicago's public transit system at the time of the fair "The Chicago Northern Street Railway went north. The Western Street Railway went west." There are may other similar passages. The first 60 pages contained a very superficial review of the discovery of America,early settlement and then events taking place in the 1890s. All of this was unnecessary.

Coverage of the exposition itself was a little better but I did not learn much more than I have already encountered in other sources. The only highpoint of the book was the collection of advertising cards. Colorful and attractive, they brought to life the period of 1893 in a way that the author did not.

This book may be fine for those just beginning to discover the wonder of the Worlds's Columbian Exposition but for a more entertaining and enjoyable 'visit' to this magical event there are volumes that are far superior. I suggest that readers look elsewhere.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Hodges on August 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
History buffs of Chicago's 1893 Columbian Exposition will welcome this book. It contains many facts and details on persons, places, and things not included in other books about the Fair.

However, a caveat:

First, this book is not intended to be a definitive account of the Fair. Second, I found a few facts or details misleading or wrong. Unfortunately, when a reader finds even one mistake we question "How many other facts or details are wrong?" Fortunately, Mr. Rosenberg provides references so hopefully there are only a few. Persons who reference the book recommended below will obviously see the errors for both electrical generation and how elevators were powered.

Mr. Rosenberg indicates that he used the Boston Public, Harvard University, and Brookline libraries. From his writing, you get the impression "the sun rises and sets in Boston Massachusetts" Indeed, he is so "provincial" it gets on your nerves. To him, almost everything in or involving the CHICAGO FAIR had its origin in the Massachusetts, Boston, or New England area. Obviously, to him, Chicago was filled with yokels back then - and apparently now. He spent one morning visiting and rummaging through the Chicago History Museum. Golly Gee! One morning in the Chicago Museum for research on the Chicago Fair!

I found the best fact book on Machinery Hall and electrical generation for the Fair is "The Wonders of Machinery Hall" reprinted from the 1892 and 1893 American Machinist Magazine available from Lindsay Publications ([...])

I give Mr. Rosenberg four stars for his effort to pull together this work. It's a nice addition to the other books on the Fair. The paper and print quality are first rate.
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