Where Did Our Sponsorship Names Come From?
Each of our sponsorship levels is named for an important person from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Read on to learn more about them!
Charles Courtney Curran
The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, better known as the Chicago World’s Fair, presented the largest exhibition of American art ever assembled in this country. Charles Courtney Curran displayed an impressive 11 paintings and, while the fair was in progress, trained his artistic eye on the event itself, creating at least 18 paintings of various daytime and nighttime scenes. Two of those images are in the CMA’s spring exhibition, Charles Courtney Curran: Seeking the Ideal.
George Washington Ferris, Jr.
A Pittsburgh-based bridge builder and steel magnate, George Washington Ferris, Jr., challenged the engineering feat of the Eiffel Tower built four years earlier in Paris by creating world’s first Ferris wheel. The highlight of the Midway at the Chicago World’s Fair, the wheel rose 264 feet in the air, could hold 2,160 people at a time, and cost 50 cents to ride (twice the price of entrance to the fair itself!).
Using Nikola Tesla’s recently invented alternating current, the Westinghouse Corporation outbid Thomas Edison and General Electric for the lighting of the world’s fair. Visitors marveled at the wondrously lit “White City” and witnessed Tesla’s phosphate system at work in the fair’s Hall of Machinery. After the exposition, alternating current powered the vast majority of American electric devices, including the world’s largest generator at Niagara Falls.
Thomas Edison and his direct current might have lost the bid to power the World’s Columbian Exposition, but he made a splash with his demonstration of the world’s first commercial system for making and showing motion pictures. Edison’s extraordinary machine combined his phonograph with a projected photographic filmstrip that rapidly projected images.
Before he was dubbed the “King of the Ragtime Writers,” celebrated African-American pianist and composer Scott Joplin formed his first band in 1893 to take advantage of all the opportunities for live music on and around the fairgrounds. His take on the day’s popular ragtime entertained countless numbers of the more than 27 million people who attended the fair.
Frederick Law Olmsted
The father of American landscape architecture was in charge of “anything that grows” on the World’s Columbian Exposition’s 633 acres. Almost 50 years after designing New York’s Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted turned Chicago’s swampy Jackson Park into a dreamy and manicured wonderland that included miles of lagoons, a wooded isle, and magnificent vistas to Lake Michigan.
John Phillip Sousa
Fresh out of retirement from his fabulously successful U.S. Marine Band the year before, John Philip Sousa and his band rocked the Chicago fair with his irresistible marches. His six-week run was tremendously popular, guaranteeing his spot among the most famous musicians in the world.