Chicago's World's Fair 1893

World's Columbian Exposition

Aerial view of 1893 Chicago's World Fair.

World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, Ill

Electric lamps illuminate building in night sky.

The Illuminations

Westinghouse AC distribution system supply power to Chicago's World Fair.

Alternating Dynamo Generator

Tesla AC generator in the Electricity Building at Chicago's World Fair in 1893.

The World’s Fair is an international exhibition that promote the achievement of nations. These achievements vary in characteristics and held in different locations around the world. The Chicago World Fair of 1893 is significant because it commemorated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus sail to the new world. termed as the Columbian Exposition, the fair debuted some the world’s most revolutionary invention and concepts known to mankind.9 One of those concepts was the widespread usage of electric power dubbed as the illuminated city. This exhibit displayed the technological leap society would make with the usage of the electric power as much of the world still relied on alternative sources of light such as daylight, candles, and gas or oil lighting.1

Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing won the bid against newly formed General Electric (Former Edison Lighting Co.) to supply power to the Chicago’s World Fair, the first fair ever powered by electricity. Westinghouse faced a challenge when he could not use the incandescent lamps since they were patented by General Electric. Realizing they underbid at $554,000, Westinghouse struggled to supply necessary equipment to properly generate power for the fair. He developed an incandescent lamp that was similar to Edison’s but was supplied by AC power and had a shorter shelf life. Twelve 1,000 horsepower poly-phase generator supplied power to fair ground this was extremely important because the Chicago Fair focused on the White City. The White City is exhibit of the Beautiful city movement, a campaign to implement urban planning practices and city services such as infrastructure.10

On May 1, 1893, President Grover Cleveland pushed a button that lit nearly 100,000 incandescent lamps illuminating the city. Demonstrating how electricity will forever change the nation making it readily available to residents everywhere. The electricity building was devoted by the World’s Fair to display the new industry exhibits and inventions. These exhibits included switchboards, transformers, Edison kinetoscope, Morse Code telegraph, and many more related devices. 11