BATAVIA – The Columbian Exposition was intended to celebrate the 400th anniversary of America’s discovery by Christopher Columbus.
It came a year late, but is still regarded as one of the crowning events in Chicago history.
Karl Bruhn of Batavia will bring the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair back to life with a presentation to the Batavia Historical Society at 2 p.m. on June 23 at Batavia City Hall, 100 N. Island Ave. Admission is free and open to the public.
“This was the world’s fair that really put Chicago on the map,” Bruhn said. “It showed the world that Chicago had not only survived the 1871 fire, but also that it had become a thriving world-class city,” he said.
Bruhn has many stories from the fair to tell, including descriptions of the famous Ferris wheel, the beautiful White City, the amusement-filled Midway Plaisance and Buffalo Bill Cody’s legendary Wild West Show.
Bruhn also will explain how Chicago won the competition among American cities to host the exposition and describe the work of great architects including Daniel Burnham to design the fair.
During its six-month run, the fair attracted more than 27 million people to see the stunning neoclassical architecture, housing exhibits of art and science.
“There are so many things from the fair that changed lives, even up to the present,” Bruhn said.
The fair introduced the world to the first dishwasher, Heinz condiments and the first Aunt Jemima pancake mix, Bruhn said.
Bruhn is a retired history teacher who now spends much of his time as a volunteer for the Chicago Architecture Center.
The Batavia Historical Society operates the Depot Museum in partnership with the Batavia Park District and has about 500 members. The historical society is in the midst of a campaign to raise $2 million for the expansion of the museum.