1893 Columbian Exposition Gala

ferriswheel “1893 Columbian Exposition” experience to be recreated by Mount Prospect Historical Society and River Trails Park District to mark the 120th Anniversary of the World’s Fair

Tickets are now on sale for “An Evening at Chicago’s 1893 Columbian Exposition,” the third annual History in the Headlines dinner, co-sponsored by the Mount Prospect Historical Society and River Trails Park District.  It will be held at Rob Roy Country Club, 505 E. Camp McDonald Rd., Prospect Heights, on Saturday, April 5.

The 1893 Columbian Exposition still stands as one of Chicago’s greatest moments in history.

Held only 22 years after a massive fire destroyed most of the city, it marked the high point of

The Gilded Age of rapid industrial growth and immigration.

Ostensibly held to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ landing, it was actually an attempt to generate profits, boost real estate values and promote the rebuilt city.

columbianphoto“The Columbian Exposition was full of grand architecture, machinery, culture and illumination,” said Lindsay Rice, executive director of the Mount Prospect Historical Society.  “The Fair was dubbed ‘The White City’ because the buildings of the fair were constructed of white ‘staff’, similar to stucco, which made it seem like they were illuminated.  In conjunction with the color of the buildings, there were street lights positioned all over the fair, giving the city a dream-like atmosphere and countries from all over the world set up tents and pavilions showcasing their music, food and culture.”

One of the attractions of the Columbian Exposition was the breathtaking Ferris Wheel.  George W.G. Ferris was the architect who designed the gigantic rotating wheel that raised riders high above the ground to observe the fair.  The wheel supported 36 cars that could hold up to 60 people each.

Another spectacle of the fair was the showcase of electricity.  There were more than 250,000 incandescent electrical lights sprinkled all over the fair.  Remember that in 1893, the concept of a bulb filled with light was beyond the imagination of most visitors, Rice said.

If you had been a visitor to the fair 120 years ago, do you picture yourself living the high life by eating in one of the dining Pavilions or would you have been snacking while walking along the Midway?  

You might want to give it some thought because it is tradition at the History in the Headlines dinners to have two distinct levels of participation.

Those attending will have the opportunity to either dress elegantly and enjoy a gourmet “Pavilion” meal, or dress more casually and enjoy a decidedly less opulent Midway buffet.

The Pavilion meals will be personally prepared by Chef Dave Esau of Dave’s Specialty Foods of Mount Prospect.  This luxurious menu will feature crab bisque soup and turkey croquettes, along with other historically-appropriate dishes.  All recipes will be inspired and prepared in accordance with meals served in the Columbian Exposition’s exclusive dining Pavilions.

If rubbing elbows with Chicago’s elite isn’t for you, sit at the Midway tables, and enjoy a fun buffet of Vienna Beef hot dogs with all the trimmings (which were actually introduced at the Fair), along with other treats offered there like macaroni and cheese, vegetable soup and sweet pickle cucumber salad, catered by Rob Roy’s 10th Hole Bar and Grill of Prospect Heights.

Tickets at the Pavilion Tables, where you might be able to converse with Fair architect “Daniel Burnham” are $75 per person.  Tickets for the more casual and down-to-earth Midway tables, on the other hand, are $25 each, according to Rice.

But no matter where you choose to sit, she added, you will enjoy period music during the cash bar and dinner; Columbian Exposition trivia, photo opportunities and exhibits.  After dinner the Fair’s master builder, “Daniel Burnham” (played by Robert Lindsey) will tell the story of the building of the World’s Columbian Exposition, from the first shovelful of earth to the world’s largest enclosed building.  The festivities will begin at 6 p.m.

Tickets are limited and may be reserved individually or in tables of ten.  For more information or to purchase tickets via Paypal,  click here to go to our museum store.  You may also phone 847-392-9006, Tuesday through Thursday during office hours, to reserve tickets and pay by credit card.

Also, if you are interested in becoming an event sponsor, download the information here.

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