By Water to the Columbian Exposition
by Johanna S. Wisthaler
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As I inspected, among the manifold exhibits contributed by the State of New York, the specimen work from the best pupils of the Art Students' League, some sketches from life and drawings from the antique attracted my special attention. They bore the signature of a young gentleman from Schenectady—Walter M. Clute—a name which, I am certain, will be widely known in future years as that of a prominent artist of this country.

We spent the following day—Sunday—in Chicago which is perhaps the most remarkable city in the world for its rapid growth. Its history dates back to the year 1803, when Fort Dearborn was erected. Abandoned at the beginning of the war with Great Britain in 1812, it was destroyed by the Indians; but rebuilt in 1816. The town was organized in 1833, and the first charter of a city passed by the Legislature, March 4, 1837. A number of outlying suburbs of Chicago were annexed by popular vote so that the present area of the city covers 181 square miles; its population being about 1,400,000. When we consider the fact that in 1871 a great fire, sweeping over the business center of Chicago, laid more than 2,000 acres in ruins, and then reflect on the city of to-day, rebuilt in a style of great solidity and magnificence, with its innumerable handsome buildings of stupendous proportions—its six hundred beautiful churches—and its vast number of educational institutions, we cannot but admire the spirit of enterprise which evolved such wondrous prosperity in little more than two decades.

The destructive fire constituted the largest conflagration of modern times. Commencing by the overturning of a lamp in a district built up almost exclusively of wood, about nine o'clock in the evening of October 8, 1871, it continued through that night and the greater part of the next day. Finally, it was checked by the explosion of gunpowder, whereupon it exhausted itself by burning all there was to ignite within the confined space. Although 18,000 houses had been reduced to ashes, ten years thereafter all traces of the calamity had disappeared.

It would be impossible to give a description of all the fine buildings which have made Chicago famous. The principal hotel—probably the largest in the world—is the "Auditorium," having its dining halls on the tenth floor. All the conveniences that modern ingenuity has excogitated—in accordance with the requirements of the present era—have been introduced into this huge structure. It includes a theater having a seating capacity for 6,000 spectators.

The park system of Chicago is one of the most extensive in the world. Jackson and Washington Parks belong to the south division, whereas the western section inside the city limits comprises three; known as Humboldt, Garfield, and Douglas Parks. Their ornamentation is varied by superb flower-beds, fountains, statues, and monuments. Lincoln Park—including a zoological garden, and being romantically situated upon the lake shore in the northern portion of the city—constitutes a delightful place of amusement for pleasure-seekers. The parks are all connected by boulevards—some of them 200 feet wide—encircling the city, and affording a continuous drive of thirty-five miles.

The trade of Chicago is enormous. Its chief items are grain, live-stock, meat products, and lumber. It principally manufactures iron and steel, wood, brick, leather, chemicals, boots and shoes, cigars and tobacco.

The next day after our return to the Chicago Harbor in the evening, Mrs. Dr. McDonald of Chicago accompanied by her brother, Mr. Bernard, paid us a visit on board the "Marguerite." Miss Campbell made the acquaintance of this amiable lady during her last trip to Europe; and they were traveling-companions, spending many pleasant days journeying together in the old world.

The WOMAN'S BUILDING was the first structure to be inspected after our next arrival on the Exposition Grounds, according to the programme for that day. It represented a great museum filled with countless contributions made by women. The superb displays of paintings, ceramics, art work, manufactures, liberal arts, embroideries, fancy work, laces; moreover, dentistry, surgery, authorship, pedagogy, etc., and works of female artisans—evinced that womankind is able to compete with man, not only in the arts and sciences and in the more delicate achievements of handiwork, but in almost every department of human activity. Even the exterior of this handsome building, erected in the style of the Italian renaissance after the design of Miss Sophia G. Hayden of Boston—with its exquisite sculptural decorations—executed by Miss Alice Rideout of St. Francisco—bore testimony to the fact, that women are entitled to enter into competition with their male colleagues.

Here, we beheld exhibits forwarded to this unique structure by women of every clime and section of the globe. Even ladies of European monarchal families were represented—the Queen of England and her daughters by works of art—the Empresses of Germany, Russia, and Austria as well as the Queen of Italy by costly laces—often the work of their own hands—and invaluable jewels—with romantic histories.

The decorative needle-work exhibit constituted a very selected and complete collection; there being offered to view pieces of embroidery to the value of $8,000.

All that was to be seen in this edifice proved the opinion that women are justified in demanding a position equal to men.

Nevertheless, many refuse to acknowledge this claim of equalization by pronouncing woman inferior to man concerning intellectual abilities. Daily experience and the records of the past, however, demonstrate sufficiently that many modern industrial pursuits have successfully been carried on by female activity. Not only the occupations, which require manual dexterity and good taste, also the higher branches of various sciences and arts have been excellently mastered by educated ladies, performing professional duties, whose execution demands a vast amount of intelligence and learning. Thus the official U.S. census of 1890 contained the enumeration of 2,438 doctresses; 110 female lawyers; 2,136 architectresses; and 155,000 lady teachers in public schools. Among the students, attending the diverse colleges in the Republic, more than 18,000 are young ladies. Even as inventors, women have distinguished themselves, as we may judge from the fact that during the last three decades, about 2,500 patents have been granted to female claimants, and scientific papers published—in 1884—a list of contrivances deriving their existence from the inventiveness of females.

Of the uncountable evidences of woman's inventive genius, the enumeration of the following devices and improvements may suffice: a chain elevator; an appliance for lessening the noise of elevated cars; a lubricating felt for diminishing friction (very useful for railroad cars); a portable water-reservoir for extinguishing small fires; an apparatus for weighing wool (one of the most sensitive machines ever invented, and of incalculable advantage for the wool industry); a rotary loom (performing thrice the work of an ordinary one); furthermore, manifold improvements to the sewing-machine, such as a device for threading the needle while the machine is in full operation; an appliance for sewing leather—contrived by a woman in New York who runs a saddlery business there—; and many others. To the sensational inventions, originated in female brains, belong—the sea-telescope devised by Mrs. Mather, an instrument for the purpose of examining the keel of a ship without requiring her being put into the dry-dock—and a complicated machine for manufacturing paper bags, a very intricate affair which many eminent mechanicians have made but unsuccessful efforts to contrive. Since then, Miss Maggie Knight, the inventress of the machine above mentioned, has found out another; namely for folding paper-bags. The latter performs the work of thirty men, and has been put up under that lady's personal supervision in Amherst, Mass.

The wonderful achievements made by women in America, have not been attained by females of any other country on the globe. This circumstance is mainly due to the fact that the public school as well as the college system in the United States—contrary to that of other nations—makes a finished education accessible to both men and women.

According to a report given by President White of the University of Michigan—an institution that admits students of both sexes—out of 1,300 attendants of the Greek class, the best scholar was a young lady. In mathematics and other scientific studies, girls had the highest standing. Furthermore, the profession of teaching in this country is principally in the hands of women; which proves that the possibility of cultivating the female mind to a high stage of perfection is absolutely unquestionable.

Moreover, philosophers of modern times have demonstrated that it is wrong to assign to woman a position inferior to man by basing it on the theory—that her brains have smaller dimensions. For, it is not the quantity of the viscus alone that settles this scientific question; but the weight of the brains in direct proportion to that of the person's body.

Recent scientific researches, accomplished by the noted Parisian physiologist Broca, yielded the result that the ratio of woman's brains compared with man's, contains even a surplus of one to four per cent.

Now, that science acknowledges that the female intellect is educable to the same degree as that of man; would it not appear to be a perversion of judgment to undervalue ingenuity, because it accidentally had its seat in female brains? Would it not be unjust to leave talents undeveloped and without cultivation, simply because a woman possesses them?

The active part woman took in the promotion of the Columbian Exposition is additional proof of her ability; and on this occasion she comes to the front rank more than ever before in her history.

Repairing to the northern portion of the park, we entered the "ART PALACE" through the southern of its four main entrances. We found ourselves in a gallery where the magnificent sculpture exhibit captivated our eyes.

In the court running east and west, we beheld a fine display of architecture showing models of many famous edifices in the world, and their exquisite portals and architectural ornaments.

The American section located in the northeastern part of the building, comprised a collection par excellence of elegant paintings, masterpieces from the best artists of this country. Very interesting was the retrospective art exhibit in this department; illustrating the various stages in the development of American art, from its incipiency to the present perfection.

The remaining space in the eastern pavilion was taken up by the French division, which—we acknowledged unanimously—contained the most laudable contribution made by a foreign nation.

Great Britain's select display, representing some of its great artists, constituted the most extensive foreign section next to France.

German art was represented by 580 fine paintings, including all the German schools that have gained celebrity; as the Bavarian in Munich—the Saxon in Dresden—and many others.—Holland, Belgium, Russia, Spain, Austria, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Canada had their share in the splendid effect, likewise.

The Japanese showing, elucidating the style of art, peculiar to that skillful nation, was very attractive and novel.

If we trace back the records of the previous international expositions, we cannot find any report giving account of a similar collection representing modern works of art. In consequence of political causes, France had seldom made contributions to any but her own expositions. But the United States, not fostering hostility with any nation, was universally assisted in her gigantic enterprise. In fact, it would require volumes to describe in detail this elaborate display, whose prominent part—the home exhibits—verified Irving's words: "In America literature and the elegant arts must grow up side by side with the coarser plants of daily necessity."

The Art Palace environed groups and figures in marble and bronze, and other sculptural master-pieces—paintings in oil and water colors, on ivory, enamel, metal, and porcelain—fresco paintings on walls— engravings—etchings—pastel and many studies in chalk and charcoal; in short, every description of modern progress in this direction, even to excellent effects produced on wood with hot irons.

Art is but the human effort to seize some of Nature's notable transitory features to perpetuate them. The unusual scenes of grandeur and of beauty our divine mother reveals to us in some of her moods, we adore, while they are inspirations to the poet and painter; and in this untiring course of art, many geniuses have become apotheosized.

To take a lovely landscape at sunset: when from the side of some enchanting stream, you look toward the mountains in the west, and see the crimson and light blue curtains of the evening slowly shaken out; their fringes of burnished gold glowing with indescribable magnificence—who can portray it and do it justice? This evening robing of those variegated crests! That mingling of color, until it fades into deep violet dyes! They in their turn passing away to give place to the jewels of the night, whose unchanging song of eternal praise goes on——

Before such scenes, a Corot, or an Aubert dips the pencil in the glowing sky, and transfers its hues to the canvas; so that, in after time, our souls are gladdened by some retrospect, which makes life dearer to us amidst its cares.

We must not consider art as the rival of nature, but her child that pays to her the most graceful tribute of homage by making her impressions permanent.

Highly interesting exhibits were presented to view in the Anthropological Building, including instructive ethnological and archaeological collections. In connection with the latter section were the relics shown in the Convent de la Rabida—where Columbus, almost discouraged, found a cordial reception and kind assistance from Father de la Marchena—; the Yucatan Ruins—an illustration of ancient architecture and sculpture—; the homes of the Cliff Dwellers—vestiges of probably the earliest civilization of the American continent—; the Spanish Caravels—built in Spain for the Exposition—; the Viking Ship—reproduced from a Norwegian vessel a thousand years old—; and the Esquimaux Village—exhibiting natives (their habitations, and sports), reindeers, and Esquimaux dogs.

The handsome structures erected by the Foreign Nations as well as those built by the States and Territories of the Union, were designed particularly for the entertainment of those visitors who constituted their respective representatives. Nevertheless, many of them were beautifully and expensively fitted up; inclosing magnificent native products. Their unique features were so manifold that it would be an impossibility to describe them deservingly without dedicating a volume to that purpose.

The nineteen foreign buildings, each of which illustrated some classic style of architecture—peculiar to the nation represented—constituted an additional great feature of the Columbian Exposition. They gave the visitor an adequate conception of the construction and luxurious equipment of edifices abroad. In fact, on entering the buildings of Germany, France, Great Britain, Spain, New South Wales, Ceylon, Canada, Sweden, Costa Rica, Hayti, Guatemala, Japan, etc., we fancied ourselves to be suddenly conveyed to these foreign countries.

With a few exceptions, all the forty-four States and five Territories of the Union, had their share in the beautiful effect produced by their structures, erected—at a considerable expense—of such material as elucidated the prominent natural resources of the respective states. Many of the edifices were modeled after buildings noted for some historical event. Thus, the New York Building was a reproduction, slightly modified, of the old Van Rensselaer residence, whose quaint architecture recalled a most interesting period in our national history, when the great metropolis of to-day was but a small sea-port town.

This World's Fair, which has recently been brought to a close, evinced to the millions of visitors, who were drawn by its multitudinous attractions to the White City from every section of this country, and from almost every quarter of the globe that it eclipsed in grandeur and excellence all of the previous universal expositions; for everything that good taste and modern genius could suggest and accomplish, was brought into play.

The financial account given by the auditor of the Columbian Fair stands thus: The entire cost of the Exposition to its close and the winding up of its affairs amounted to $26,288,685.67. Its total receipts were $28,151,168.75; thus exceeding the expenditure by $1,862,483.08.

The wonderful and rapid development of the international expositions may be recognized by the following statistics, compiled from the annals of their short history:

Ordinal Year. Location. Area Duration Exhibitors Visitors Number in Acres in Days

1 1851 London 20.06 144 17,000 6,039,000 2 1855 Paris 24.71 200 21,779 5,162,000 3 1862 London 22.24 171 28,653 6,211,000 4 1867 Paris 29.44 217 50,236 10,200,000 5 1873 Vienna 39.54 186 42,000 7,254,000 6 1876 Philadelphia 59.31 184 60,000 9,900,000 7 1878 Paris 59.31 194 32,000 13,000,000 8 1889 Paris 74.14 183 60,000 32,000,000 9 1893 Chicago..Exp 533.00 183 50,000 27,412,728 ...MP 80.00

Unable to obtain the exact figures denoting the number of exhibitors of the Columbian Exposition from any authentical source of information, I introduced into the above table the number of 50,000, mentioned in a newspaper, and therefore not absolutely reliable.


The universal verdict is—that the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago was a great success; and although disappearing like a dream, it will be a lasting and useful one. The mention of a few features, at once creditable to the age, and pointing hopefully to the future, may suffice to prove this opinion: Notwithstanding the great rivalry between nations, there has not been a particle of jealousy, or unkind criticism exhibited at these great congresses. Intelligent and representative people have been brought together from all parts of the earth, who—on returning to their homes—carried with them the germs of better feeling, which will have a tendency to break up the barriers of bitter prejudices and bigotry hitherto existing. The less favored and darker parts of our earth come more into the light. Our children have had lessons, which no history or geography could convey; our women have taken a stand from which they never will recede. In the presence of the wonders shown us, and all the grand efforts of human genius, we become less selfish and more humane; a greater respect for each other is evoked. Yes, it has been a good thing!

All honor to the nations of the earth, who so generously have come forward with their best treasures, not sparing trouble or expense in this promoting, grand feature of human progress! The millions spent here, have been well employed; and we can safely say that—but for the unfortunate fact that during the time of the exposition, we were passing through a season of unusual financial depression—the attendance at the World's Fair would have been much larger. Nevertheless, it was a great success. All honor to the Hon. George R. Davis, the General Director! All honor to his co-laborers! All honor to every one who did anything to push it along! For, it is gone—giving the pulse of the world the holiest thrill it ever had since its creation.


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