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Volume 1279
Remarkable Summer of '93
The Midway Plaisance with tethered balloon and Ferris Wheel ~ Colorized by Chicagology
Chicago World's Fair of 1893
 Ch. 5: Midway Adventure I
The Columbian Exposition
July 3, 1893 
Notes & Photos
The Adventures of 
Edgar Rice Burroughs
As Interpreted by
Bill Hillman
Yesterday had been a long hot day so I allowed the girls a bit of sleep-in time before arriving at the Alva Hulbert residence at 194 Park Avenue. I found the four Hulbert sisters embroiled in an animated discussion. Apparently Emma and Jessie had spent the morning regaling their siblings with vivid descriptions of yesterday's adventures and Leila and Julia were prepared to join us on today's trek around the Fair. In fact, Leila had donned her hat and wrap and Julia had changed into a striking silk frock. The girls' plans were scuttled, however, when their mother peeked through the drawing room drapes to remind them that both girls were expected to accompany their father to an afternoon luncheon at his hotel, the Tremont, and they had to prepare for the next day's trip to St. Louis. We promised them that there would be many more opportunities to visit the Fair since the event is scheduled to run all summer.
Emma and Jessie
Emma and Jessie
Mrs. Hulbert
Mrs. Hulbert
The above photos are the copyrighted property of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. They are not for download or distribution.
Deerborn Street Trolley
We decided to take a more exciting mode of travel to the grounds today and we arrived at the Fair's RR terminal gate aboard the new electric powered streetcar. 

Thanks to the Jessie's maneuvering with her pointed parasol, she and Emma had been able to squeeze into a seat on the heavily loaded car. 

The choice that faced me was to hang onto the side rails or to climb to a precarious perch on the roof -- I decided on the more adventurous choice, with its view of the busy streets and of the distant shining buildings of the Fair's White City.

Distant shot of the fair
Wooded Island
Because of our late start it was late morning when we passed through the gate. We made our way to the Wooded Isle again to eat the picnic lunch packed by Emma's mother, Mrs. Hulbert. 

While Emma spread out the lunch under a shade tree, Jessie read from the notebook entries she had made yesterday (See Chapter 10).  With a little help from Emma and myself she has compiled a list of interesting people and exhibits, as well as descriptions of the new inventions and oddities we have come across.

Womans Building
Our original plan had been to spend the day exploring the Midway, but Emma was so impressed with yesterday's visit to the Womans Building that she wanted to examine some of the displays we had missed on our first visit. I was anxious to share the excitement of the Midway that I had come to know so well, but since the Womans Building was on the way it seemed like a small concession to make to placate the women folk. A canopied electric launch carried us across the lagoon to dock at the entrance to the building. 

Landing at the Woman's Building ~ Watercolor by H. D. NicholsEntrance to the Woman's Building

While the girls marveled again at this tribute to womanhood, I remained at the entrance, where I struck up a conversation with a middle-aged man in a military uniform. He turned out to be a member of the Sousa marching band that we had seen yesterday in the parade on Michigan Avenue. Our chat was interrupted by a military parade along the lagoon thoroughfare passing within arms reach of our position under the main entrance archway. I couldn't help but observe how favourably our Orchard Lake boys compared to the seasoned veterans in the troupe.

Finally, impatient with the wait, I sought out the girls to remind them that many more exciting sights awaited us. I couldn't totally conceal my embarrassment, though, when I finally tracked them down -- at the modern corsets display.

Exiting the Women's Pavilion we entered yet another world, 
a marvelous place teeming with excited sight-seers -- 
The Midway Plaisance!
See Chapters 2 and 11 for Midway Maps 

Midway Plaisance, a street one mile long and six hundred feet wide. 
A series of rides, attractions and model villages teeming with food and dance.
This fantasy land had been my home for the last few weeks while we MMA cadets were camped on the grounds. I couldn't wait to show off the many wonders I had discovered during this stay. We decided to go directly to the Ferris Wheel from which we could get a bird's eye view of the Midway and the entire Exposition grounds, as well as much of Chicago and Lake Michigan.
The Plaisance by Andre Castaigne in Art and Architecture
Through the course of our trek along the Plaisance, we passed between the walls of mediaeval villages, mosques, pagodas, oriental theatres -- past the dwellings of colonial days, past the cabins of South Sea islanders, of Javanese, Egyptians, Bedouins, Indians, and primitive huts of bark and straw. 

All the continents are represented here, as well as many nations of each continent, civilized, semi-civilized, and barbarous -- from the Caucasian to the naked African negro. I had some concerns as to how the girls would react to some of these sights, but they both held up gamely. 

Javanese Orchestra
Javan Settlement
My female companions saw it all as a great opportunity to learn more about the people of foreign lands: their customs, habits, and environment, their food and drink and dress, their diversions and their industries  -- an experience that would take years of travel in the real world. The sensory barrage was not limited to sights and smells, as our ears were constantly assaulted by German and Hungarian bands, and by the discord of Chinese cymbals and the beat of Dahomean tom-toms. 
All along the Midway we were entertained by jugglers and magicians, camel-drivers and donkey-boys, dancing-girls from far off exotic lands such as Cairo, Algiers, Samoa and Brazil, and an endless line of attractions featuring men and women of all nationalities. 

At the entrances to the various attractions barkers strove to out shriek each other in an effort to strip us of our change and lure us into their exotic theatres and villages -- or to persuade us to partake of beverages served by native waiters. 

But we were determined to start our adventure on the ride that has set the whole city -- and the world -- abuzz: Mr. Ferris's Great Wheel.

Finally, making it through this gauntlet called Midway, we stood at the base of the centerpiece of the Fair. The Giant Wheel of steel towered hundreds of feet overhead. For the first time, the girls showed some sign of trepidation but they were soon caught up in the sense of adventure shared by the hundreds of other waiting passengers.
Machinery of the Great Ferris Wheel
Colour Ferris WheelAfter a short time of standing in queue we were directed into one of the wheel's 36 glass-enclosed cars to sit on revolving chairs with 57 other passengers. Almost immediately we, and over 2,000 other awe-struck "aviators," were conveyed in a smooth, gliding motion to a height of 264 feet. The wheel stopped numerous times along the way with each stop setting our gondola into a rocking motion which drew screams of excitement from the ladies and youngsters. The most exciting stop was at the top from which we were afforded a panoramic and kaleidoscopic view of the many wonders of the Exposition and its thousands of visitors. On the second circuit the wheel sped up without stopping -- the sensation of winging to great heights followed by a swooping plunge back to  earth was exhilarating beyond compare.
View from the Great Wheel
Looking to the north and west we gazed upon the great majestic city lying beneath us -- shimmering in the rays of the noonday sun and radiant in the foliage of mid summer. The ever-present pall of smoke hung low over the spires and housetops to the north, but the man-made cloud over the "windy city" was slowly receding before the soft  breezes off the lake. 

Directly beneath we were entertained by the wonderful panorama of the Midway Plaisance, black with its seething, world-garnered population, and flashing with the mingled glow of colored lights and gay banners.


Ferris's Great Wheel

Schiaparelli Mars Map

Schiaparelli Map of Mars 1886
The music that had, a few minutes ago, been a wave of cacophony, we could now hear but faintly in the distance: the plaintive wailing of an Arab's flute melded with the dull, monotonous pounding of a Turk's tamtam and barbaric war chants. All this was mingled incongruously with the majestic strains of the German national hymn wafting up from a passing marching band.

It was an impressive, almost surreal scene -- a memorable experience, especially for the girls who were taking it in for the first time, this wondrous street with its teeming throng of thousands. Farther to the east we could see the wonderful White City of glistening palaces and beyond that, the heaving waters of Lake Michigan. Even more impressive than the distant waters of the lake was the sparkling reflections of the many lagoons, ponds and canals woven in a complex pattern among the Fair's complex layout of buildings, avenues and islands. 

My first thought upon seeing the network of canals far below was of the canal map of Mars drawn by a Mr. Schiaparelli of Italy. I just recently discovered this unusual document among the science textbooks that George and Harry had brought home from Yale. Indeed I could almost imagine myself on some distant planet as we hurtled through the skies on this great wheel -- looking down on the fantasy land below us with its teeming courtyards, majestic avenues, eclectic mix of unusual vehicles, parkland filled with exotic trees, complex waterways, shining palace-like buildings. All of this played out to a background of foreign music, sounds, and languages.

Ferris Wheel and Midway Plaisance ~ Colorization by Chicagology
Disembarking from the glass-enclosed gondola after our twenty minute flight I led the girls from Ferris's wheel and back to the entrance of the Plaisance to start our tour in earnest. On either side of the avenue we observed a nursery of fruit trees native to other locales such as France, California and the Pacific northwest. 

Emma and I both agreed that our dream home would be surrounded by groves of exotic trees maintained in their natural state. She balked, however, at the idea of including all of the plants on display. She insisted that our garden would not have a place for the carnivorous Venus fly-trap, even though it was one of the most popular species on display.

The Chicago Ferris Wheel that debuted at the 1893 Columbian Exposition
Was later moved to the 1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair.
Irish Village and Blarney Castle
We then came upon Lady Aberdeen's Village. After passing through the facsimile of a chapel entrance we walked through an attractive display of thatched cottages showcasing every aspect of Irish life and endeavour -- I must remember to recommend this to mother's two Irish maids. Crossing an open court we entered "Blarney Castle" in which we climbed a winding staircase. Emma paused to catch her breath and take in the view, while Jessie and I crept to the battlements to kiss the magic Blarney stone. On our way back to the Midway we paused at the Irish music hall where we were thoroughly entertained by pipers and jig dancers. Emma, much more appreciative of the fine art of music was drawn to the musical renderings of a young Celtic harpist.
International Dress and Costume Exhibit..
Across from Irish pavilion our curiosity was piqued by a large audience, consisting mainly of males, outside the International Dress and Costume Company building.

It is also appropriately known as the "Congress of Beauty." We found it to be a rather novel and daring exhibition of costumes from 45 countries modeled by comely young ladies. I took some photographs.

Pneumatic Tubes
Wolfgang and his wife from Vienna
Complaining of hunger pangs, Emma rushed me through the exhibit in the direction of the "Old-Tyme Farmer's Dinner." Along the way we stepped in to examine the exciting business machinery of the fair as displayed by the Adams Express company. Their most impressive device is a system of pneumatic tubes that use compressed air to propel cylinders containing documents, money and messages to other buildings on the grounds. 

Emma has always accused me of having an over-active imagination and, true to form, my mental meanderings soon had me basking in images of a network of subterranean tunnels and surface tubes carrying cylinders with a cargo of passengers and freight that were jettisoned to far-off destinations.

Carrying on to the chosen eatery, I couldn't tempt either of the girls to sample the fare at Vienna sausages booth near the Austrian Village. Bert and I had frequented the spot quite often over the last month, mainly for the entertainment provided by Hans and Wolfgang who regaled us with tales of castles, royalty and intrigue from their homeland.

Entrance to the Aztec Pavilion and Day at the Alps Scenic Theatre
Entrance to Day at the Alps 
Scenic Theatre & Aztec Pavilion
 After a short wait, which gave us time to admire the authentic pioneer decor of the Old-Tyme building, Mother Southwick's waitresses, in costumes of olden days, led us to our table. We soon made short work of an abundant serving of pork and beans with hot biscuits followed by doughnuts and pie.

After this much needed respite we carried on down the Midway, bypassing the Scenic Theatre with its electricity-produced scenes and music of the Alps. We noted that the adjacent Aztec ruins replica is still under construction. Many of the workers appear to be Indians, probably from Mexico or Central America.


Entrance to the Aztec Village
Aztec Ruins
Aztec Ruins
Submarine Exhibit

Far more interesting were the nearby exhibitions. In the submarine diving building we observed a diver attached to a breathing apparatus, who scoured the bottom of a large tank to retrieve treasure -- actually coins thrown into the tank by the audience. 

Next to this "undersea" attraction is a life-sized display showing a shaft gold mining operation powered by electricity. Having worked with George and Harry on their gold dredging barge in Idaho, I was hoping to impress Emma with my knowledge of mining operations, but what is demonstrated in this "gold mine" has little relation to the Sweetser-Burroughs operation on the Snake River. 

I did impress her with my bravery, however, during the part of our tour through the stygian darkness of one section of the mine's subterranean tour. Apparently even the closely supervised sanitation standards of the White City can't keep out Chicago's ubiquitous rat population. We came upon one of the largest -- and boldest -- rodents I have had the pleasure to meet. I made short work of the four-legged creature with a few blows from my empty camera case.

Hagengack's camels
Our journey down the midway was interrupted by a parade of Carl Hagenbeck riders on camels followed by a crowd of curious fairgoers. Mr. Hagenbeck led the parade and was using a speaker cone to invite everyone to his animal show that was about to begin. We joined in with the enthusiastic crowd and were soon seated in the zoological amphitheatre to await the afternoon show. 

Emma had read my earlier journal entry in which I had shared my excitement over this incredible menagerie. The animals are all displayed, without cages, in pits and natural settings. Both she and Jessie now witnessed firsthand what all the hoopla was about and after their initial uneasiness in being so close to these wild beasts, they were soon captivated by the amazing animal antics in the ring. 


Hagenbeck's Animals
Hagenbeck's Animals in Natural Setting

Gazing upward, as Emma finally dragged me from the animal arena, I was surprised to see a gateway flanked by towers, beyond which we could see the castellated structures of  Donegal Castle and Irish Village.

The memory of the steep winding staircases of Blarney Castle still in her mind, Emma quickened her step toward the Japanese bazaar where she marveled at the authentic oriental fans, screens, vases and silks, statues and bric-a-brac. 

Japanese Vases
Ornate Japanese Vases

Edgar Rice Burroughs' 
Remarkable Summer of '93
Chapter 6: Midway Adventure II
Exotic Lands
A Docu-Fiction Series by Bill Hillman
See Large Exposition Images
Stereoviews Album No. 5
ERBzine 1279s
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 Tour III
StereoViews from ERB Library
Souvenirs | Tours: IV | V | VI
Back To Tarzana: All Text

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