The White City as it was called, was hastily constructed with cheaper materials. The Black City however is a thriving city which has been thriving for hundreds of years. The White City was a gleaming masterpiece of B urnham which eventually was burned down as all good things do in the end. Chicago is a city reaching its zenith of prosperity at that point in history. Both were great establishments but each represented differnet things. The White City represented the entire world and the culture that has devolped and evolved in the past 400 years. The Black City represents the American culture and how it has pride in its own culture.Both cities were great its just that one was temporoary even though it had a positive lasting impact and the other was permanant and had a negative impact.
You bring up some very good points and I agree with you entirely. The point I want to highlight is right at the beginning about the White City being quick and cheap while the Black City was an actual, thriving city. Even though the White City had such a better reputation, it was actually outdone by the magic of the Black City Chicago. Chicago thrived and is still here today, the White City is not.
The White City, the World's Fair, and the Black city, the streets of Chicago, were complete opposites of each other and somehow both managed to thrive within the one city of Chicago. Simply by the names of these two 'cities' you can tell just how different they were from each other. The White City was filled with hope and success. Its streets were filled with astonishing architecture and designs that amazed every person that walked through the fair's gate. Countless problems were overcome and prosperity flourished around every corner. It was a masterpiece and drew people in from all over the country. Although the White City was a miraculous marvel for its time, it was fragile. It buildings were constructed quickly and cheaply, certainly not meant to last very long. Even the weakest of storms seemed to generate some sort of destruction. Contrasting the magical White City, was the horrendous Black City. This side of Chicago was filled with struggle, poverty, crime, and filth. There were dangers lurking around every city block. Unlike the White City, people's problems usually only worsened went with them to the grave. There was nothing pleasant about the Black City but it seemed to capture its inhabitants, and keep them around. It may not have been the most enjoyable part of the country but it was strong. It was meant to last . Despite how many hardships the city had encountered it managed to still stand tall and stand resilient. The combination of these two opposing sides of Chicago seemed to create the perfect storm.
I agree. It's all in the name. It's surprising that the white city, the world's fair, could even be constructed in Chicago because of its reputation for violence and crime. The white city was a huge contrast to Chicago. I feel like even though the fair is claimed to be such a great thing, it never really did anything too beneficial for Chicago. I mean the fair produced one of the first ever serial killers.
According to the novel, the World’s Fair was referred to as the “White City” and Chicago as the “Black City.” The White City, I believe, was set by its creators to be a type of escape, a wonderland to hold the world in itself. Here, no, I mean very little, crime ensued and murders weren't heard of. Visitors could escape from the darkness of Chicago and the world to visit the World’s Fair and live in fairy tale for a day and experience different cultures, foods, exhibits, and attractions, especially the Ferris wheel. The White City wasn't just created to be an exhibition, it was created to make history. I believe that it was portrayed so elegantly so it would persist in the minds of spectators forever. However, I believe Larson portrayed Chicago as the Black City to let the reader know just how much the fair was different from everyday life. While the Black City was dirty, hectic, and filled with crime, the White City was a paradise, a perfect world to last only a short time. On the aspect of crime, the Black City held what I believe to be the biggest scandal in the time period: Holmes’ murders and his hotel. People visited the fair from all over the United States and the world, women stayed in Holmes’ hotel and never returned to former living situations, if you know what I mean. In the Black City crimes persisted, not only did Holmes murder plenty of women, but violence ensued throughout the city. As Larson described it, the White City was also pretty pristine and shiny, that is, not a picture of filth and trash. Workers were hired to keep the fair clean and tidy for people visiting, the only thing most visitors saw were wrappers from spectators’ lunches. In contrast, the Black City in this time period was a painting of filth. Streets were dirty, covered in horse excrement and garbage while conditions of factories were even worse. Sanitary measures weren't quite discovered yet in the time so one can imagine just how much filth was within the factories, especially in the meatpacking industry (let’s just say that the tip of a finger could be cut off, and still be placed into the meat pile). Another reason the Black and White cities can be contrasted is that the White city was, in fact, white. All of the buildings at the World’s fair were painted white which would in turn reflect the sun off of the walls, making the city appear shiny. The Black City, however, can be assumed to be a drab dark color like grey, or even black. With all of the filth in the city there would be no way to keep the outsides of buildings clean, I would also imagine that coal would be used as the primary heat source, which could again turn the outsides of buildings a dark color. After all, I think that the biggest difference between the white and the black city was the cleanliness, white screams clean and black screams dirty.
This novel is full to the brim with examples of contradictions. From the characters(Burnham and Holmes), to the character's motives(creation and destruction), to the buildings that were constructed(the buildings of the fair and the "Murder Castle") to the city of Chicago and its fair, each of these examples prove to be polar opposites of each other. At the time, Chicago was a dump of city filled with crime and poverty that nobody believed could be the home of a World's fair. How could a World's Fair in Chicago ever out do the previous one in Chicago? Chicago's streets were dirty an full of the city's trash. Even before the building started, Jackson park was a mess that needed a lot of work before any building could begin. Fires were common as well, causing destruction to many buildings. The grime of the city is exactly what gave it the nickname of "The Black City". In contrast, the "White City" was a place of beauty, art, and progress. It became almost a utopia for those who visited. The fair was a place of escape for every type of person, a place of where the dirt and crime of the city seemed to disappear. The fair was producing new forms of entertainment, architecture, foods, and inventions that helped show the people of Chicago the true potential the city could unleash. The fair was a literal juxtaposition, with the white buildings being placed in the middle of a dingy city. I think that the World's fair was a critical turning point for the city of Chicago. Everyone began to see how beautiful and powerful their city could really be. The fair pushed the city to progress in ways it never had before.
A total contradiction, you are right! Due to the fact they are placed next to one another -- Black City and White City -- it seems as if the author is creating a juxtaposition!
Although the fair was located in Chicago, it was practically its own city. But that does not mean that these two cities were completely different in some ways they were the same but in others they were very much different. The book exposes both sides of the cities. The Black city, Chicago in itself was thriving, thriving on dirty work, but thriving. The buildings were heading to the sky as industry took off. But the black city was also full of disease, crime and anonymous killings. The increase in industry killed more people than ever. Incidents like train accidents left “Pedestrians [receiving] severed heads.” Not only were people getting killed but pollution was everywhere. Human waste was yet to be filtered through public works, so it, along with horse poop covered the streets. Blood from the Union stockyards stained the men’s hands, but that wasn’t the only blood staining their hands. Murder and killings were also taking a rise. Things in Chicago seemed to be looking pretty black, pretty terrible, that is until they won the fair. Now their thriving city had a gem, a clean, safe gem. It is mentioned in the book, that with the lights and Columbian guard, people who regularly stayed in at night felt safe at the fair. Not only that but the fair was gorgeous with all the night lights and even in the day the buildings were marveled at for hours. The Black City was where people worked, lived, struggled, and survived. In the White City people were able to escape all that. They didn’t have to worry about their unpaid creditors or the lack of work they currently have. The fair was a place to relax and enjoy one’s self. In the white city men’s hands were not stained red with blood, but rather tan with crumbs from their afternoon lunch. Both cities were all about progress, but the Black City progressed in a much grimier way than the White City.
A lot of times it's easy to focus on the "bad" side of Chicago: the "disease, crime, and anonymous killings", as you put it. I like the fact that you also mentioned Chicago was "thriving". Yes, the White City did put up a good facade, posing as the ideal society, but Chicago was real; real and lasting.
I agree with mimi because now when I think of Chicago, I think of it as a dark and dirty city full of crime, deaths, and gangs. With other side from Holmes, the city was exciting and seemed new and a place to see. I believe that this helped out the city, but also made a dramatic turn for the city.
The Fair was ment to be the Dark City's redemption. It was suppose to show how the 'bright' the dark city could be. It's immaculate lawns, it's monumental buildings, it's promise of a better future. When compared with Chicago, the White City only shown brighter. When the city was decided to be built in Chicago, the US scoffed at them. The Dark City's pride was at stake with this fair. With a reputation like Chicago had at this time, pride was just about everything they had. The White City was the very best that Chicago could provide. It's construction proved that even in the worst situation people can still overcome hardships in order to achieve a common goal. The Chicago World Fair was more than just a Fair. It proved that one of the darkest places on earth was able to produce such a beautiful thing. H.H. Holmes's killings only proves my point of how horrible a place Chicago was at the time.
There was a big difference between the White City and the Black City. The White City was an amazing place. Humongous buildings that were lit up by the sun during the day and illuminated by street lamps at night, along with hundreds of attractions, exhibits, and innovations. The hundreds of thousands of daily visitors made the White City a lively place. The exotic dancers and animals also added a unique taste to the fair. However, all of this ended once you stepped outside the radius of the White City. As you transitioned from the beautiful White City into the dark Black City of Chicago, a night and day difference almost occurred. The Black City “was a secondary city that preferred butchered hogs to Beethoven” (12). There were many differences between the White and the Black City. While the White City put on amazing displays of engineering and architecture, the Black City put on amazing displays of meatpacking and butchering. The White City was filled with lively people and bright lights; the Black City was filled with poverty and crime. The White City had become a symbol to the world of America’s greatness. However, just a few miles next to it, a center of disease, crime, poverty, and grime existed. I feel like part of the reason that Larson juxtaposed these two conflicting locations was that he can express one of the themes of the book. The White City showed a great and beautiful part of Chicago to the rest of the world. However, the Black City hid in the shadows as an unseen evil (sorta). I think that that same thought (that behind every good thing is a bad thing) resonates throughout the whole book. The Fair was a great thing; however, all the murders and accidents were bad things. The differences between the White and the Black City can be seen throughout the whole book, and it almost seems as if the Burnham plot was centered on the White City, while the Holmes plot was centered on the Black City.
Jiwei I fully agree with you. I caught myself nodding in agreement with many of things you stated above. Do you feel that Larson took away from the contrasting between the Black City and the White City by focusing on side stories like Buffalo Bill's circus and the Ferris Wheel? If so, do you think that there could have been a way to incorporate those stories into the book in a way to emphasize the White or Black City better? I liked the way you worked into your thoughts about the contrasting facts between the two "cities" and how one was basically a beautiful and dreamy place while the other was less attractive and more full of grime. You started out nice and broad but slowly worked your way into the contrasts and then even further at the end by tying the Holmes and Burnham plots into each city. I really admire how you did that. The Columbian Exposition was one of the first places to show the world that cities can be a clean and safe place. I feel like you touched on that by listing the differences between the Exposition and the main part of Chicago during that time. To me, it seems like because of the World Fair of 1893 we are able to enjoy places more easily and have trust that they'll be safe and clean in today's world. So although the fair is over it remains a role model for people 110 years later.
Jiwei, I completely agree with your response. I liked the description you added as it strengthened your points nicely. The vivid descriptions you used for the White and Black cities contrasted each other very well, just like Larson did himself! I also liked how you tied in your response with the theme of the book; I agree that the Black and White city represent good and evil and one can't be without the other. This was shown multiple times in the book and your response covered that. Finally, I'm glad you made the connection between the two sides of Chicago along with the Burnham and Holmes plot!
Before and after the world fair, Chicago was known the black city. It wasn’t welcoming to visitors, and was unsafe for its inhabitants. The Black city was poverty stricken, overcrowded, and incredibly polluted. There were barely places for the poor to sleep, and even fewer jobs to give them security. The meatpacking industry and other factory work became the main opportunity for work for the poverty stricken. It was also so easy to disappear in the Black city. No one would even know you vanished. The White city was this idea of wonder, this place of infamy. The city soon began to flip with its creation. With all of the buildings to be built jobs became easier and easier to obtain. People were able to make money. Once the White city was built it was a place that everyone wanted to see; it wasn’t only Americans flooding the gates to get into the fair. Tourists were amazed at the gigantic buildings, the beautiful architecture, the one-of-a-kind Ferris wheel. There were travelers from across the globe coming to admire the exposition. This was the complete opposite of the Black city. The white city embraced visitors, and welcomed them with open arms. The Black city dared people to enter, and made it hard to live day to day. This quote describes it perfectly, “It was so easy to disappear, so easy to deny knowledge, so very easy in the smoke and din to mask that something dark had taken root. This was Chicago, on the eve of the greatest fair in history”. It makes me think, “You can run, but you can’t hide”. It was so easy to disappear in the Black city, so easy to just wander off and never be found again. In my opinion, I don’t think I would be able to handle life in the Black city. All I picture is poverty, the homeless, and all of the other disadvantages I would face. But if I had lived during this time period, I would have loved to visit the White city. “Chicago has disappointed her enemies and astonished the world”, the White City was something greater than we can imagine. The Black city was something much worse.
First off the main contrast was the white city was white and chicago was black. Not just in color though. the white city was white due to the huge white victorian buildings but also the white in the meaning of pure. It was an ideal dream city. it was a place where people could come and their standings in social society didn't matter. people of all walks of life came and enjoyed the ferris wheel and the many shows and stands the fair had to offer. it was also a safe place where people could enjoy a day with their family. in contrast chicago or also known as the black city was the exact opposite. people were judged by the type of life they lived whether they could help it or not. if you were a common worker you weren't seen at a fancy restaurant or opera house. in addition in the real chicago there was crime and thievery around every corner whereas in the white city that was covered up more and not as openly known. the black city was also much darker because of smog and pollution also just the fact that the buildings were dark and older. the white city had been built as a form of escape for the visitors. a place to escape to and have a life of luxury if only for a day until they had to go back to the reality of the black city known as chicago.