Welcoming the World

Bringing the World to Chicago

Just 22 years after the Great Fire devastated the city, Chicago hosted the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition—considered the greatest World’s Fair in history! This once-in-a-lifetime event lured millions of visitors and ushered in American optimism during an era marked by financial panic, social turmoil, and technological and scientific advances.

Created to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus coming to America, the Fair celebrated cultural and industrial progress. It brought the world to one place and showed that America—and Chicago—was open for business.

Dubbed “The White City” because of its gleaming, neoclassical buildings, the Fair displayed more than 65,000 exhibits and exposed people to extraordinary things that they would have never seen otherwise. Amazed visitors admired unique wonders like exotic animals, international cultures, and strange new products from around the globe.

Though the Fair lasted only six months, it lived on in memory, influencing countless writers, artists, and innovators. And its legacy continues today in The Field Museum’s founding collections, which scientists continue to study and learn from using new approaches and technologies.