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Harrisburg: The City Beautiful

1893 Chicago World's Fair

Court of Honor, Chicago Fair of 1893

The Court of Honor at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair

The biggest influence in the City Beautiful Movement was the 1893 World’s Fair. The “ideal city,” made by Daniel Burnham with help from a number of architects and landscapers including Frederick L. Olmsted, Jr. (whose father designed Central Park in New York City), changed the way that people looked at cities. In the height of the Industrial Revolution, cities had grown haphazardly around factories and railroads; they were built for work, not pleasure. By showing Americans what a clean, planned city could look like, it showed them what a city’s potential could be (Hall, Peter Geoffrey. Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design). The White City that thet created at the World's Fair was a "city of the future" where every building fit into the scheme of the city and electric lights illuminated the streets, even at night. It featured large bodies of water and green spaces amidst the city's skyline. 

After the World's Fair, Burnham was hired to plan other cities such as Washington D.C., Cleveland, San Francisco, and, eventually, Chicago, starting in 1901. He charged no fee in Washington D.C. and Chicago because he thought of his work as a public service to the cities. (Wolski, Tamara, The World’s Columbian Exposition’s Lasting Effect on Chicago, pp. 8.)