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The World's Fair and Exposition
Information and Reference Guide

1933 Century of Progress International Exposition




  • 230 facts and trivia nuggets plus 65 links to external resources.

  • The World's Fair and Exposition Information and Reference Guide is now on CD.
    11,216 facts and 1,362 web links covering 24 World's Fairs and Expositions.
    Further information can be found here.

  • To Convert Dollar Amounts to the Year 2003: divide the amount by .071



The following categories are on CD
High Resolution Images (12)
more Statistics (19) General Motors Building (16)
more Facts and Trivia (19) Golden Temple of Jehol (14)
Administration Building (9) Hall of Religion (10)
Agricultural Building
(Foods and Agricultural Building) (13)
Hall of Science (31)
Art Institute (13) Hall of Social Science (3)
Century of Progress Fountain (9) Home and Industrial Arts
(Home Planning Hall) (20)
Chrysler Building (7) Mayan Temple (9)
Electrical Group (27) The Midway (39)
Federal and States Building (38) Travel and Transport Building (27)
Ford Building (13) Stamps (8)
General Exhibits Group (18) Admissions, Fares, Fees (28)
Bonus: 1933-34 Timeline (76)





  • Title: 1933-34 Century of Progress International Exposition.

  • Theme: 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Chicago.

  • Underlying Theme: Science and Technology - "Science Finds, Genius Invents, Industry Applies, Man Adapts".

  • Location: Chicago, Illinois. Along the coast of Lake Michigan between 12th and 39th streets.

  • Category: Universal Exhibition.

  • Exposition President: Rufus C Dawes.

  • Exposition Vice-President: Charles Peterson.

  • Dates: May 27, 1933 - November 12, 1933
               May 26, 1934 - October 31, 1934.

  • Area: 424 acres (some reports state 427 acres) (172 hectares).

  • Hours: I'm still searching.

  • Architecture: Art Deco.

  • Total Revenue: $43,589,154.

  • Total Expenses: $42,900,989.

  • Net Profit: $688,165.

  • Daily Admission: 50¢ for adults, 25¢ for children (5-12).

  • Season Tickets (non-transferable): $15.00 for 150 admissions (one for every day of the Fair).

  • Attendance (1933): 27,703,132.

  • Attendance (1934): 21,066,095.

  • Attendance (both years): 48,769,227.

  • Entrances (1933): 4.

  • Entrances (1934): 12.

  • Stock: No capital stock. Operated as a Non-profit organization.

  • Official Guidebook (3): 35¢ (paper), 60¢ (cloth), $1.00 (art-craft).

  • Exterior Lighting: 15,000 incandescent bulbs (10 watt - 3,000 watts).

  • Landscape Architects: Vitale and Geiffert.

  • Flower Beds: 24,000 square feet.

  • Hedge-bordered Lawns: 20 acres.

  • Greyhound Auto-Liners (60): 100 person capacity each.

  • Sightseeing Tour: 50¢.

  • Auto Tourist Camps: 5.

  • Parking Lot (1): 7,000 cars.

  • Color Scheme (1933): 4 main colors (white, blue, orange, black) but 24 varieties altogether (one green, two blue-green, two grays, two yellows, three reds, four oranges, six blues, black, gold, silver and white).

  • Color Scheme (1934): 10 colors.

  • US Military Encampment: 100 infantrymen, 100 marines and 100 sailors.

  • Northerly Island: Agricultural Exhibit, Electrical Group, Enchanted Island, Hall of States, Hollywood, Horticultural Building, Pabst Blue Ribbon Casino, Planetarium, Social Science, US Government Building.

  • Participating Nations (21): Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Irish Free State, Italy, Japan, Luxemburg, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Palestine, Poland, Spain, Sweden.

  • Participating States (44): listing in the Federal and States Building section.

  • Suburban Rail Service Capacity: 50,000 visitors per hour.

  • Elevated and Surface Line Capacity: 1,000,000 visitors per day.

  • Intramural Buses (on grounds): 60.

  • Intramural Bus Capacity: up to 20,000 visitors per hour.

  • US Population (1933): 120,000,000+.

  • US Automobiles (1933): 22,347,000.

  • US Trucks (1933): 3,446,404.

  • US Highways (1933): 3,705,565 miles.

  • US Oil Production (1933): 850,000,000 barrels a year.

  • US Gasoline Consumption: 39,720,000 gallons a day (14,500,000,000 gallons a year).

  • Chicago, at this time, is the second largest city in the United States. And is home to 102,000 churches.

  • $1.00 (1933) = $14.08 (2003).

  • aka: The Rainbow City.


Facts and Trivia



  • January 5, 1928 - Century of Progress is incorporated.

  • April, 1928 - $5.00 certificates issued (good for ten admissions). $593,358.25 is raised ($634,042.84 with interest).

  • October 24, 1929 - Black Thursday.

  • October 28, 1929 - $10,000,000 Bond issued.

  • October 29, 1929 - Black Tuesday.

  • April 16, 1930 - Century of Progress Ordnance passed.

  • May 12, 1930 - Century of Progress Ordnance accepted.

  • May 27, 1933 - Opening Day. Postmaster General Farley opens the gates.

  • Arcturus turns on the lights. Automatically every night the light from the star "Arcturus" is captured by a photoelectric cell at the Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin then transmitted to Chicago to turn on the lights.

  • The idea behind "Arcturus" was that it takes 40 years for it's light to reach earth. Which meant that it's light signal was sent at the time of the 1893 Columbian Exposition.

  • The neon light makes an impression with large scale usage.

  • A 28 feet by 12 feet reproduction of "Little America" was on display in the hold of Byrd's Ship.

  • Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company operated the dirigible "Puritan". It was 140 feet long, 39 feet in diameter, contained 112,000 cubic feet of helium and carried 6 passengers. It was housed at the base of the Travel and Transport Building.

  • The 50 foot long Greyhound Buses were built by General Motors and could hold 60 people at a time.

  • The Art Institute of Chicago housed over 1200 sculptures and paintings.

  • The Fine Arts exhibit in the Art Institute was the only World's Fair exhibit not on the grounds.

  • Jantzen's Beach offered swimming during the summer months.

  • The Official World's Fair Medal was designed by Emil Robert Zettler. The bronze medal was made in three sizes: 1½ inches, 2¼ inches and 2¾ inches wide.



  • The first World's Fair Medal was presented to President Franklin Roosevelt.

  • 1,500 passengers trains from 25 trunk lines arrive daily in Chicago.

  • Chicago is the largest train center in the world (1933).

  • All children entering Enchanted Island playground were inspected by medical doctors.

  • In the Colonial Village you could see: the Betsy Ross House, Mount Vernon, Boston State House, Ben Franklin's Print Shop, a Salem Witch House and the Wayside Inn.

  • In Old England you could see the Globe Theatre, Old Curiosity Shop, Harvard Home and the Cheshire Cheese Inn.

  • The Irish Village contained 30 buildings. Among the historic exhibits: the Book of Kells and a 12th century Irish Harp.

  • The Crane Company Station exhibit in Home Planning Hall contained a 45 foot shower as well as antique and historic plumbing.

  • International Harvester demonstrated a remote-control farm tractor.

  • The Victor Vienna Restaurant was known as "Old Vienna" at the 1893 Columbian Exposition.

  • The "Firestone Singing Color Fountain" contained six 20 foot tall water fountains in a 100 foot long, 15 foot wide pool. Each fountain had a different color light in it's base.

  • The "Firestone" sign was 80 feet long.

  • The first World's Fair not supported by taxes. The only tax-money used was for the US Government and US State exhibits.

  • Some buildings and concessions were open prior to 1933. Fort Dearborn being one of them, received almost 200,000 visitors in 1931 alone.

  • In 1931, John Philip Sousa composed "A Century of Progress" for the Exposition. He died in 1932.

  • The 51 inch high, seven story tall Green Jade Pagoda in the Chinese exhibit was carved from one piece of Jade. It more than 16 years to carve and was valued at $500,000.

  • General Balboa arrived on July 15th, he flew from Italy to Chicago with the 24 plane Italy's Air Armada. He was named "Chief Flying Eagle" by the Native American congregation.

  • Italy's display contained 450 exhibits.



  • Admiral Byrd's Ship was commanded by Lt Harry Adams, an original member of Byrd's crew. Three more original members were present: John Bursey (dog sled driver), John McKeon and Johnny Buys. 515 ton, 185 foot long. The ship was located in the South Lagoon.

  • Great Britain displayed the "Royal Scot".

  • Mexico displayed their Presidential Train.

  • Egypt's Pavilion resembled the Temple of Philae.

  • Costa Rico's display consisted of coffee.

  • The French exhibit featured jewelry, laces, silks, paintings and wine.

  • The Exposition grounds were surrounded by a 9 foot metal fence.

  • Most buildings and structures had no windows.

  • One battery of 24 searchlights produced 1,920,000,000 candle power.

  • The Nash Glass Tower was built by Whiting Corporation. It was 80 feet tall and continually rotated 16 Nash and Lafayette automobiles up and down. The exhibit demonstrated an elevator tower method of automobile parking.

  • Native Americans pitched camp in a reproduction of a Northwest Coast village.

  • A new version of Rose was dedicated to Anton Cermak. The late Mayor of Chicago was fatally shot on February 15, 1933 by Giuseppe Zangara (who was aiming for Franklin Roosevelt).

  • The Sear's Building was one of the few white buildings.

  • The "Ultra-Modern" Operating Room exhibit contained a colorful mural painting covering the walls and ceiling. It was designed to "relax" the patient during operations.

  • The Winnebago Indians performed the Green Corn Dance.

  • Coca-Cola had a bottling plant in operation.

  • Participating Indian Tribes: Hopi, Jemez, Navajo, Winnebago.

  • November 20, 1933 - Auguste and Jean Piccard fly to a record height of 61,000 feet.



  • July 27, 1934 - Explorer I rises to a height of 60,613 feet but the balloon rips and crew members had to parachute to safety. Explorer I was 5 times the size of "Century of Progress".

  • 1934 - Jean Piccard and his wife Jeannette ride the "Century of Progress" to a height of 58,000 feet. Jeannette Piccard is the first woman to fly to the sub-stratosphere.

  • Professor Beebe's "bathysphere" was on display. It made it to a record depth of 2,200 feet.

  • The American Air Races were held at Chicago Airport. Among the participants: Glenn Curtiss' prize winning airplane, Chamberlain and Levine's "Columbia" and Colonel Art Goebel's "Woolroc".

  • In "Hollywood" you could watch a motion picture being made on a 60 foot stage and see 3-D pictures.

  • Miracle Whip by Kraft Foods makes it's debut.

  • Balbo's Column was a gift of the Italian government. It came form the ruins of a Roman temple in Ostia and commemorated General Balbo's trans-Atlantic flight to Chicago in 1933.

  • Sears, Roebuck Building was 260 feet long and 120 feet wide.

  • Coca-Cola introduced the automatic fountain dispenser and served more than 6,5000,000 drinks in 1933 alone.

  • Benito Mussolini was dictator of Italy (1922-1943).

  • General Motors and Chrysler had exhibits. Ford exhibited in 1934.

  • Mayor Ed Kelly proposed a Chicago Week instead of a Chicago Day.

  • The huge mechanical Sinclair Dinosaurs not only moved but also bellowed pre-recorded screeching sounds.

  • Radio Flyer's "Coaster Boy" model was 45 feet tall and had a shop underneath. It was located on Enchanted Island along with a house of marbles.

  • Ford Motor Company's "Rotunda" was disassembled after the fair and reassembled in Dearborn, Michigan. It burned down in November 9, 1962.

  • Within a month of the Fair's closing over 25,000 people lost their jobs.

  • The Terrazzo Promenade became permanent after the Exposition.

  • The Administration Building, Fort Dearborn and the Golden Temple of Jehol remained after the Exposition.

  • Balbo's Column is the only structure remaining on it's original location (1600 South Lake Shore Drive).



  • Exhibitors included: Agfa Ansco, American Colortype, American Express, AMA, ATT, Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, Atlas Brewing, Bakelite, Baldwin Piano, Ball Brothers, B&O Railroad, Bausch and Lomb, Boy Scouts, Brinks, Bristol Myers, Carnegie Steel, Carpet Washer Company, C&O Railway, Chrysler, Coca-Cola, Collier, Curtis Lighting, Eastman Kodak, Edison, Electrolux, Elgin Watch, Firestone, Frigidaire, Fuller Brush, Funk & Wagnall's, General Electric, General Motors, Gerber Foods, Good Housekeeping, Goodwill, Gray Line Sightseeing, Gulf Refining, Hamilton Beach, Hammond Clock, Heinz, Heywood Wakefield, Hoosier Cabinets, Hoover, IBM, International Harvester, ITT, Junket, Karastan Rug, Kelvinator, Kendall, Kerr Glass, Kitchen-Maid, Kohler, Kraft-Phoenix, Kroehler, Lane, Libby Foods, Lucky Lady Ironing Board, Lullabye Furniture, Marshall Field, Masonite, Master Lock, Mayo Clinic, McGraw-Hill Publishing, Merriam Dictionaries, Miracul Wax, Morton Salt, Mueller Furniture, Nash Motors, National Biscuit Company (Nabisco), National Standard, Norge, O'Cedar, Old Dutch Cleanser, Otis Elevator, Owens-Illinois, Packard Motors, Pan-American Airways, Pennsylvania Railroad, Pittsburgh Safety Glass, Pullman, Quaker Oats, RCA, Revelation Tooth Powder, Reynolds, Rittenhouse, Sears Roebuck, Simoniz, Sinclair Refining, Squibb, Standard Oil, Stewart-Warner, Studebaker, Time, Underwood, Union Carbide, US Playing Card, US Steel, Wahl, Waterman, Western Union, Westinghouse, Yardley, York Safe and Lock.


Adler Planetarium



Field Museum of Natural History



  • Founded in 1893 by Marshall Field.

  • Began as Columbian Museum of Chicago on September 16, 1893.

  • Changed to Field Museum of Natural History in 1905.

  • Moved from Jackson Park to its present location in 1921.

  • Cost: $6,000,000.

  • Visitors: over 1,000,000 annually.

  • Library: 95,000 books (250,000 today).

  • Traveling Exhibits: over 1,000.

  • Exhibits: anthropology, botany, geology, zoology.

  • Field Museum of Natural History.


Havoline Thermometer


  • Height: 200 foot tall.

  • Numerals: 10 foot high.

  • Faces: 3.

  • Wiring: 10 miles.

  • Neon Tubing: 3,000 feet.

  • Steel: 60 tons.

  • Builders: Indian Refining Company.

  • Nickname: Monument to Chicago's Climate.

  • Neon lights were used instead of fluid.

  • An exhibit about oil refining was housed in the base.


Lincoln Group


  • Architect: Charles Herrick Hammond.

  • Builders: Congress Construction Company, Chicago.

  • Buildings: 5.

  • Abraham Lincoln's birth cabin was a 100 year old real log cabin from Jersey County, Illinois. It was disassembled and resembled for the Exposition. Kentucky red clay was used for chinking and in the chimney.

  • Replica of the Lincoln Family cabin in Indiana.

  • Replica of the Rutledge Tavern in which Lincoln used when romancing Ann Rutledge.

  • Replica of the building near Salem, Illinois where Lincoln and William Berry ran a general store.

  • A 2/3 scale model of the Wigwam (1860 Republican Convention Hall) where Lincoln was nominated for Presidency.

  • The Wigwam was the only building "scaled down" in size.

  • You could buy a meal in the Rutledge Tavern.

  • Displays included: an axe handle carved by Lincoln, his betrothal stone", the long lost portrait by Thomas Buchanan Read and 72 original and handwritten documents.


Old Fort Dearborn



  • In 1795, Treaty of Greenville ceded territory (6 miles square) from the Indians.

  • Named for Secretary of War (under President Thomas Jefferson) General Henry Dearborn.

  • Completed: 1808.

  • Commanders: Captain John Whistler (1803 - 1810). Captain Nathan Heald (1810 - 1812).

  • Was the first completed structure on the Exposition grounds.

  • Made of Wisconsin Norway Pine, weathered rock, discarded (flawed) glass for windows.

  • The flagpole was 70 feet tall.

  • The double row of log walls were 10 and 5 feet high.

  • Guard uniforms were similar to those worn in 1812.

  • The US flag had 15 stars in 1812.

  • The US Military Academy at West Point loaned two 1890's era cannon for the display.

  • Also loaning display pieces: American Legion, DAR, Chicago Historical Society, Smithsonian Institute and the US Army and Navy Department.

  • Some of the Contents: a 150 year old four poster bed made in England, a 100 year cupboard cabinet from Indiana, 124 year old pewter dishes from England and a 133 year old oxen yoke from Allentown, PA.

  • Fever, malaria, sewage and impure water felled nearly half of the inhabitants in it's first year.

  • August 15, 1812 - Chief Blackbird ambushes 96 soldiers and civilians who were being evacuated from the fort and burns the Fort to the ground. aka the Fort Dearborn Massacre.

  • 1815 - Chief Blackbird receives the British medal of loyalty.

  • 1816 - the Fort is rebuilt. Closes in 1823.

  • 1828 - the Fort is re-opened. And abandoned again in 1831.

  • 1832 - Fort is reactivated. And abandoned again a few years later.

  • 1856 - all but a few buildings are demolished.

  • 1871 - the Great Chicago Fire destroys the remaining buildings.

  • September 15, 1971 - Designated a Chicago Landmark.

  • 1803-1812: The First Fort Dearborn.

  • Fort Dearborn Homepage.

  • Just the Arti-FACTS - Fort Dearborn.

  • Life on Fort Dearborn.

  • National Society Daughters of the American Revolution - Fort Dearborn Chapter.

  • Site of Fort Dearborn.


Sears, Roebuck Building


  • Location: Avenue of Flags.

  • Architects: Nimmons, Carr & Wright.

  • Tower: 150 feet tall.

  • Windows: none.

  • The air-circulating system was equivalent to 1,800 six-room houses.

  • Contained: children's playground, dioramas, hospital, information booth, restaurant, telephone and telegraph service.


Shedd Aquarium


  • Named after John G Shedd.

  • Opened: December, 1929 (without fish).

  • Cost: $3,000,000.

  • Construction: Georgia Marble.

  • Central Tower: 100 feet high.

  • Wall Tanks: 132.

  • Reserve Tanks: 95.

  • John G Shedd donated the money for the largest aquarium in the world. He dies in 1926.

  • Construction begins in 1927 on land in Grant Park (later known as Museum Campus).

  • In 1929, the Aquarium acquires it's first train car "The Nautilus".

  • The first of six galleries opens in 1930.

  • An Australian lungfish is added to the gallery in 1933. It's still alive and holds the longevity record for it's species.

  • In 1936, the first neon tetra arrives ... on the Hindenburg from Germany.

  • In 1959, The Nautilus is replaced with the "Nautilus II" which survives until 1972.

  • Shedd Aquarium.


Sky Ride



  • Builders (5): Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, Inland Steel, John Roebling and Sons, Mississippi Valley Structural Steel, Otis Elevator.

  • Towers: 628 feet high, 1,850 feet apart (some reports state 2,000 feet).

  • Observation Decks: 2 each tower.

  • Elevators: 4 each tower.

  • Elevator Capacity: 30 people.

  • Length: 2,000 feet.

  • Steel: 2,000 tons.

  • Cabling: 100 miles.

  • Cableway Breaking Strength: 220,000 pounds per square inch.

  • Backstays: 600 feet long.

  • Double-decked Rocket Cars (12): 200 foot level.

  • Capacity: 5,000 people per hour.

  • Riders (1933): 2,616,389.

  • Lights were attached to the bottoms of the elevators and illuminated at night.

  • Each "rocket car" emitted steam to resemble "tails" as they traveled across the wires. And at night lights were focused on them as they traveled between the towers.

  • Bausch and Lomb supplied the 12 coin-operated telescopes on the Towers.

  • Only the George Washington Bridge in New York City had a larger span.

  • Was higher than the skyscrapers in Chicago.


Standard Oil Show


  • Title: "Red Crown of Fury".

  • Outdoor Theatre: 2,500 seats.

  • Lion and Tiger Trainer: Allen King.

  • Lions and Tigers: 33.

  • Elephant Trainer: Estrella Nelson.

  • Exhibitions: 4-5 a day.

  • All featured animals were jungle-bred.

  • The Lions came from the Barbary Coast and Central Africa.

  • The Tigers came from Sumatra and China.


Links, Resources, Sources




Resources, Sources - Books


  • A Century of Progress Exposition. Official pictures in color. 1934.

  • Catalogue of Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture. Art Institute of Chicago. 1933, 1934.

  • Catalogue of Exhibition of Prints. Art Institute of Chicago. 1933, 1934.

  • Here Today and Gone Tomorrow, the Story of World's Fairs and Expositions by Suzanne Hilton, 1978.

  • Homes and Furnishings as Exhibited at the World's Fair by Dorothy Raley. 1934.

  • Medical Science Exhibits, A Century of Progress by Eben James Carey. 1936.

  • Official Catalogue of Exhibits in the Division of the Basic Sciences. Hall of Science. 1933, 1934.

  • Official Guide Book of the Fair. 1933, 1934.

  • Official Pictures of a Century of Progress Exposition. The Lakeside Press, 1933.

  • Official View Book. RH Donnelley Corporation, 1933.

  • Progress in Industrial Color and Protection at "A Century of Progress." American Asphalt Paint Company, 1933.



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