cover image Celebrating the New World: Chicago's Columbian Exposition of 1893

Celebrating the New World: Chicago's Columbian Exposition of 1893

Robert Muccigrosso. Ivan R. Dee Publisher, $24.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-1-56663-013-9

Acknowledging that recent views of the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago deem it ``an exercise in racism, class and gender domination, social control and cultural regression,'' Muccigrosso ( American Gothic ) argues for a more nuanced interpretation in this lucid, informative book. After exploring the culture of 19th-century world's fairs, and the development of Chicago politically, ethnically and architecturally, he turns to the exposition itself: topics include the controversy of the buildings' neoclassical design, the display of new technology, tension between high and low culture and the mixed references to both wilderness and urban life. The exposition had an important influence on architecture and urban beautification; while its focus marginalized Native Americans and African Americans, Muccigrosso urges an understanding of the event's temporal context. The displays of non-Western cultures and world religions, he writes, ``showed an urge to transcend geographical limits and create a world's fair.'' Photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)