This was then considered largest single common artistic project ever undertaken and the greatest event of its kind in history.
By 1889, public opinion and individual efforts had mobilized enough support to launch a celebration of the upcoming 400th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage in 1492. Contenders for the massive exposition site included St. Louis, Chicago, New York and Washington, but Chicago raised $10 million and was selected. Abill to authorize the...
By 1889, public opinion and individual efforts had mobilized enough support to launch a celebration of the upcoming 400th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage in 1492. Contenders for the massive exposition site included St. Louis, Chicago, New York and Washington, but Chicago raised $10 million and was selected. Abill to authorize the exposition was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Harrison on April 25, 1890. It was entitled “An Act to provide for celebrating the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, by holding an international exhibition of arts, industries, manufactures, and the products of the soil, mine, and sea, in the city of Chicago, in the State of Illinois.”
The new law also provided for the establishment of the World's Columbian Commission (WCC), a body that would plan and manage the undertaking. Dedication of the buildings was scheduled to take place with appropriate ceremonies on October 12, 1892, and the exposition itself set to open in May 1893 and to close that October.
The WCC was composed of two commissioners from each state, territory, and the District of Columbia. There were also eight atlarge commissioners. The state and territorial commissioners were selected by their respective governors, and the commissioner from the District of Columbia and at-large commissioners were selected by the President. When all were appointed, the WCC commissioners met in Chicago. Allowed payment not to exceed $6 per day, they were assigned the tasks of finding an appropriate site, determining the plan and scope of the exposition, allotment of space for exhibitors, classification of exhibits, and appointment of judges and examiners. The WCC was required to also appoint a Board of Lady Managers, to extend invitations to foreign governments to take part in the exposition, and to generally take charge of all dealings with the representatives of exhibitors and foreign governments. The first commission meeting was held June 26, 1890.
Document Signed as President, folio, Washington, May 24 1890, appointing Edward H. Ammidown one of the WCC’s eight atlarge commissioners. The document is countersigned by James G. Blaine as Secretary of State. Ammidown was known to the President and was a professor at Harvard at the time he was called upon.
The fair was a stupendous success. The White City built for the exposition represented an unprecedented collaboration of artists, architects, engineers, sculptors, painters, and landscape architects who joined forces to create a single work – an ideal model city. Their effort was considered the largest single common artistic project ever undertaken and the greatest event of its kind in history. It also brought extraordinary attention to Chicago, which can date its international eminence from then.
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