First and Only Weekly Webzine Devoted to the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Since 1996 ~ Over 15,000 Webpages in Archive
Volume 1275
Part of Our
Remarkable Summer of '93
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Chicago World's Fair of 1893
Ch. 1: Welcome to the Fair
The Columbian Exposition
Summer 1893 
Notes & Photos
The Adventures of 
Edgar Rice Burroughs
As Interpreted by
Bill Hillman

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The experience of collating and researching the many hundreds of books and authors that comprise the personal library amassed by Edgar Rice Burroughs throughout his lifetime has brought many rewards. I have experienced, vicariously, the thrill of discovering many long forgotten genres, themes, mores, lifestyles, writing conventions, art styles, fashions, and fads of many decades past. 

The library is actually an 80 decades-long time capsule spanning the Burroughs years from the 1870s to 1950. I shared his discoveries of new authors and plot lines, far-off exotic lands, scientific achievements, travel adventures, romance, the joys of child raising, and freedom of expression of thinkers and philosophers through the ages. And along the way I felt an ever-increasing kinship with his views on ecology, religion, military, family, imaginative thinking, and creative activities. 

The experience has generated many ideas for ways in which to explore and share the myriad facets of Burroughs, the man and the artist. His was an amazingly complex life and career. The legacy of this influential figure, who pioneered and fueled the growth of almost every level of entertainment media can not be overstated. 
The countless hours put into the creation of the Burroughs Library Web pages have generated many ideas for spin-off projects. After spending so much time with the books that meant so much to this man I can't help but speculate on the authors and events that most influenced his lifestyle and imagination -- the boundless imagination that was responsible for the timeless success of his creations.

Some of the most interesting books in the Burroughs collection date back to the summer of 1893.

The Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893

From May 1 to October 31, 1893, Chicago and its glorious Columbian Exposition played host to over 27 million visitors -- nearly one quarter of the country's population at the time. This event was the last and the greatest of the nineteenth century's World's Fairs -- and a landmark event in American history and culture.

The Fair was immensely popular and was touted as being the greatest cultural and entertainment event in the history of the world -- an amazing achievement for a city that had so recently emerged phoenix-like out of the ashes of the disastrous Chicago Fire of 1871.

StereoView of Chicago after the disastrous fire of 1871

Many Travellers arrived by "Exposition Flyers" -- Pullman coaches travelling at the amazing speed of 80 m.p.h.  It was before the Age of the Automobile, before the invention of the airplane, before the World Wars, and before so many of the inventions and conveniences that we now take for granted in the 21st Century. The world, led by a young, emerging and boisterous America, had just entered the Age of Electricity and the promises of things to come were as exciting as in any time in the history of Mankind.

The World's Columbian Exposition was a tremendously popular and influential social and cultural event. Reflecting on the progress of America in the 400 years since Columbus, it presented the country as a cultural, commercial, and technological leader. The 1890s was a time when Americans were undergoing the sometimes painful shift from an agricultural to an industrial society. 

Unlike the state of depression outside the Fair's gates and in so many of the world's cities, the well-managed and seemingly uncorrupt Fair had unbelievably clean streets, well-behaved crowds, the most  advanced sanitary and transportation systems, and most of all, it was beautiful -- so unlike the grey and dusty cities many of the visitors had come from. In many respects, the Fair in fact was a utopia. 

Enchanted Dream

Utilizing the natural landscape of Jackson Park, the designers created a system of lagoons and waterways fed by Lake Michigan. These bodies of water served as decorative reflecting pools, waterways for transportation, and provided a place of respite necessary for weary summer visitors -- the shady Wooded Island. 

The 14 main buildings surrounding the waterways were in the Beaux-Arts style, with its emphasis on logic, harmony, and uniformity. The Court of Honor buildings-- surrounding the Grand Basin with its massive gilded statue of the Republic -- were covered with "staff," or stucco, giving the main buildings a magnificent whiteness and dazzling visitors who arrived at the rail terminal just outside the Fair's gates.

Grover Cleveland presse button to open the fair

On opening day 100,000 people crowded the Court of Honor to watch President Cleveland touch a golden lever, electrically sending into motion the dynamo engines that powered the Fair. After three years of preparation and at a cost of $28 million, the Fair was finally underway. Visitors over the six months of the Fair's operation were excited, entertained, and overwhelmed. The event was calculated to be awe-inspiring, and in the eyes of most people it achieved its goal. 

Visitors were greeted with 633 total acres of Fairgrounds, 65,000 exhibits, and restaurant seating for 7,000. They were amazed by the clean and safe elevated railway and the electric launches plying the canals and lagoons. Guests, on the way to the entertainment and the spectacle of the Midway felt quite safe with the hundreds of Columbian Guards and plainclothes detectives on the grounds. Hundreds of concessionaires, selling everything from souvenir paperweights to popcorn and the newly invented carbonated soda, hamburgers, juicy fruit gum, Cracker Jack and picture postcards, crowded the walkways. 

The world's first Midway featured an endless array of exotic exhibits and rides -- rides such as the hot air balloon and the first ever giant Ferris Wheel that moved over 1,000 riders at a time with speeds of 50 m.p.h.  Dignitaries, artists, writers, thinkers, inventors, adventurers and showmen from all over the world gathered here for inspiration and entertainment. John Philip Sousa wrote an Exhibition march, the magnificent buildings inspired L. Frank Baum to create his Emerald City, Scott Joplin developed Ragtime while playing on the grounds,  Dvorak composed the New World Symphony, the Pledge of Allegiance and Columbus Day were introduced, 

It was this fantastic world in which young Ed Burroughs and his fellow cadets from Orchard Lake spent most of the month of June, 1893. Not only did they spend their free time exploring the delights and mysteries of this exotic environment, they also enjoyed parading around the grounds in their military uniforms, basking in the adulation of curious thousands of fairgoers. At the end of their stay as cadets they attended the Michigan Military Academy graduation, held on the grounds, with their former idolized commandant and one of the most popular writers of adventure stories of the day, Captain Charles King, in attendance. 

Marching through the Midway Plaisance

Ed soon returned for the remainder of the summer to assist his father's company -- the American Battery Company -- in showcasing their products in a display in the futuristic Electricity Building. The most exciting part of his duties involved the driving of what many say was the first electric horseless carriage in Chicago. The sight of this strange vehicle caused near pandemonium wherever it appeared on the grounds. 

The influence of this amazing summer of '93 upon the imagination of the young, impressionable Edgar Rice Burroughs was undoubtedly profound. Almost all of the wondrous adventures and the fantastic worlds that he would eventually transcribe to paper 20 years later can be linked to events that he experienced at the Chicago Columbian Exposition.

In an ongoing series of "What if...?" or "You are there . . ." first person journal accounts we will draw upon extensive Columbian Expo research, combined with what is known of ERB's real life activities during that summer, and with what the future held for him over the next incredible 60 years of his life.

Christopher Columbus
Edgar Rice Burroughs: 1875-1950
Lady Columbia
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Edgar Rice Burroughs' 
Remarkable Summer of '93
Chapter 2
Invasion of the Boys from Orchard Lake
A Docu-Fiction Series by Bill Hillman
See Ed's Stereoviews of Chicago
Stereoview Album No. I
ERBzine 1275s

Remarkable Summer of '93
A Docu-Novel by Bill Hillman
Ch. I: Welcome to Chicago's
Columbian Exposition
Ch. 2: Invasion of the 
Boys from Orchard Lake
Ch. 3: Grand Adventure
Strange New Worlds
Ch. 4: Magic City
The White City
StereoViews: Chicago
StereoViews: Buildings
StereoViews: Exhibits I
StereoViews: Exhibits II
  .    .
Ch. 5: Midway Adventure I
The Great Wheel
Ch. 6: Midway Adventure II
Exotic Lands
Ch. 7; Master Mind of 
The World of Tomorrow
Ch. 8
Ed and His Electric Flyer
StereoViews: Midway
StereoViews: Peep Shows
StereoViews: Ed's Tour I
StereoViews: Ed's Tour II
. . . .
Ch. 9
Complete All-Text Version
Ch. 10
Sister Jessie's Notebook
Ch. 11
Web Refs & Appendix
PART II: Time Shift Adventure
Back to ERB's Tarzana Ranch
Ed's 3D Tour III
StereoViews from ERB Library
Back To Tarzana: All Text
.     .
 Ed's 3D Tour: IV
Ed's 3D Tour V
Ed's 3D Tour VI
Ed's 3D Tour VII
Photos: Buildings
Photos: Attractions
Photos: States
25 Large Photos
ERB's Photo Album: 115 Full-Screen Photos
Part I: Photos 1-25
Part II: Photos 26-55
Part III: Photos 56-85
Part IV: Photos 86-115

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