Most helpful positive review
73 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2005
I found this book quite fascinating. I have been reading Erik Larson's wonderful "The Devil in the White City" but since that comes with virtually no illustrations, I bought this book primarily for the photographs, of which it has a great many and which go a long way to conveying just how huge this fair was (there were 735,000+ visitors on the day that had the highest attendance rate).
It also fills in information Larson's book lacks about the exhibits themselves, the individual state and country buildings and the Midway as well as statistics on how much food was served every day and how many bathrooms were available plus it shows pictures of the moving sidewalk that took visitors who arrived by boat to the fair itself; the Xerxes telescope; many displays and decorations made out of corn and oranges; the foreigners who were part of the Midway attractions; the Wooded Island; the first automated paint sprayer (with which a crew of three was able to paint the interior of the entire Manufacturers and Liberal Arts Building in only six weeks); a lifesize statue of a wooly mammoth, then thought to have been the largest animal to have ever walked the earth; and several pictures of the Ferris Wheel under construction. It also has a table showing what attractions were available and how much they cost and one indicating which architect designed which building (something Larson's readers will appreciate).
The only real problem I had with the book (and the reason for four stars instead of five) is that it's printed on regular paper stock and not on glossy paper so the photographs are somewhat blurry and grainy and not as crisp as they would have been had the publisher used different paper. Also the book provides a copy of the map of the fairgrounds given by Montgomery Ward to it's customers but this map is too small plus it's printed so that part of it lies in the book's center crease. I think it would have been better if the publisher had had a map drawn and used that or had found one that provided more information. There is a three dimensional map of the Exposition available on the Web -- it would have been nice if something like that had been included as well since it's impossible to get a comprehensive, birdseye view of the Fair (nevermind one in relation to Chicago and the surrounding community) from just the photographs. There is also a bibliography and a somewhat incomplete index. I don't know how this book compares to other pictorial books on the Exposition but it was fine for what I needed and had lots of bits of interesting trivia besides.