In 1893, the United States wanted to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus's voyage to the Americas in style. National leaders planned a grand exposition featuring exhibits of new technology and arts from around the globe, spread across hundreds of acres of meticulously designed grounds. After some spirited lobbying for the honor of hosting such an event, Chicago, IL, was finally selected - it was a major railway hub with space to spare.
Under the direction of architect Daniel Burnham, designer-in-chief Charles Atwood, and landscape master Frederick Law Olmstead, the dazzling "White City" took shape. The exposition's soaring Classical buildings and sparkling fountains - all rigged to shine with electricity at night - were as much of a marvel as the wonders contained inside their massive halls. Millions flocked to Chicago to take in the sights, despite the city's history with famous crimes.
Some aspects of the World's Fair, like its breathtaking architecture and the debuting Ferris Wheel, are still widely admired today. Others, like displays involving people from non-Western cultures, haven't aged as gracefully. The White City was dismantled once the exposition closed a few short months later, but photographs from the fair remain as evocative as the day they were taken.