Event—Public Programming

The Vanishing City: Excavating the World's Fair


Listen to an audio recording of this program.

Lasting for only six months before its structures "vanished," the 1893 World's Fair's permanent impact on American consumer culture, city planning, questions around citizenry and foreignness was deeply tied to and reinforced by its ephemerality.

Rebecca Graff will speak about her archeological and archival research focused on the ephemeral "White City" and Midway Plaisance of the 1893 Chicago Fair. The results of the excavation in Jackson Park revealed a robust archeological signature of the extensive sanitary infrastructure of the Fair and, surprisingly, delicate plaster remains of the Fair's Ohio State Building. Graff's work links the Fair, as a catalyst for structural change and its material record, to the larger social structures of late nineteenth-century America.

Rebecca S. Graff, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Chair of American Studies at Lake Forest College, is the author of the forthcoming, The Vanishing City and the Enduring Home: Approaching Modernity at Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and the Charnley House, which is based on an archeological and archival project focusing on the ephemeral “White City” and Midway Plaisance of the 1893 Chicago Fair. It is being published through the Society for Historical Archaeology. The material that serves as its basis earned Graff the 2013 Kathleen Kirk Gilmore Dissertation Award.

Download a PDF flyer for this event to post and distribute, and check out a Quick Guide to related materials in the Newberry collection.

This event, cosponsored with the Newberry's program in Chicago Studies, is part of our programming in connection with the exhibition Pictures from an Exposition: Visualizing the 1893 World's Fair. See it from September 28 to December 31, 2018, at the Newberry.

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