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As at all World's Fairs since the turn of the century an amusement park was one of the indispensable attractions at the Century of Progress Exhibition. In order to educate the public here, too, a team led by Nathaniel Owings erected replicas of an old Chinese temple that had been the summer residence of the Emperor of Manchuria, of the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, the first president of the USA, and of Fort Dearborn, the origin of the City of Chicago.

Foreign countries also contributed to the educational experience by importing replicas of buildings. For the Belgium village, plaster stencils were taken of the facades of mediaeval and baroque houses and used as templates for the architecture of the scenery behind which restaurants and cafés were located. A great attraction of this village was the folk dancing in traditional Belgium costumes which took place several times a day.

Behind that was the amusement zone which was based on the Midway park of the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893 and which provided all kinds of diversion ranging from a snake show, through a flea circus to a scandalous striptease show starring Sally Rand who was initially threatened with imprisonment for her act. Dance presentations by exotic peoples, which were known from previous World's Fairs, were also accommodated here. Large night-clubs, peep-shows, dancehalls, a nudist colony and gambling casinos appeared in reproductions of the streets of Paris. Some of these localities had to be closed by the authorities as they were deemed to violated public morals, but the end of the Prohibition was celebrated everywhere with free beer in the autumn of 1933.

Enchanted Island was set up as a children's playground with roundabouts, a miniature railway and pony rides. The children were looked after here by trained hosts, entertained by educational but funny plays in a puppet theatre, and were able to borrow books from a children's library. This practically turned the children themselves into exhibits at the fair as progressive methods of education were intended to be demonstrated live.

The exhibition named "A Million Years Ago" also pursued didactic goals. It presented creatures from the Palaeozoic era in their natural environment in the shape of dioramas and mechanically driven, life-size figures. Visitors were transported past the exhibits on moving belts. However the anticipated crowds failed to materialize because the Sinclair oil refinery also presented moving dinosaurs at their company pavilion but free of charge.

Another highlight of the Fair one that was unpopular with the architects was the Sky Ride which was a cable railway over the lagoon. Two steel towers, 600 metres apart and 190 metres high, dominated the entire grounds and ruined the proportions of the fair's architecture. The engineers of the towers had not been allowed to add any decoration. Only the illuminated lifts which went to an observation platform 180 metres up and the floodlights at the top decorated the towers a little. At a height of 70 metres the towers were connected by steel cables on which large gondolas capable of holding 60 passengers were suspended and travelled from one tower to the other. The gondolas looked like rockets and emitted colourful clouds of smoke. However, the trip was over after just three minutes.

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The Chicago World Exposition 1933 & 1934
Sky Ride and Enchanted Island - amusements and attractions
Year: 1933City: ChicagoCountry: USA
Duration: 27th May - 12th November 1933 und 25th M



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