Chicago as a “Second City”

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, America was growing faster than ever. The cities were a huge contribution to this growth. Cities such as New York City and Chicago at this time were flourishing rapidly. NYC was considered the first, primary city while Chicago coined the name “second city”. Both cities were moving forward with various new innovations and designs.  

Chicago being a “second city” freed them to explore more alternative ideas in their buildings. It was a way for them to take risks, try new things, and think from a different perspective. They did not have the pressure of  being the number one city, feeling like they had to stick with tradition. Chicago was able to create designs and innovations that people had never seen before.

Chicago was able to showcase their innovations when they hosted a world’s fair in 1893 named the World’s Columbian Exposition.

Lithograph advertising the Chicago Day celebration at the fair which commemorated the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

The exposition was in honor of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s landing in America. For this, Chicago created various extravagant new structures and buildings. With many new materials, the possibilities for these structures were endless. Chicago wanted to impress its guests, putting many of their innovations on display for the world to see.


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