It is October 9, 1893, the day Frank Millet has organized as Chicago Day, and a huge crowd has come to Jackson Park for the World’s Fair. More than 300,000 people are estimated to attend that day, close to the world record of 397,000 at the Paris exposition. There are only three more weeks before the World’s Fair closes. By noon, the Paris record has been beaten. People pile into the World’s Fair, causing accidents: children are lost, workers die, and a woman loses her foot when a crowd pushes her over.
The patriotism of the WF is both impressive and disturbing — a huge crowd of people comes to the Fair, but they hurt each other and cause various accidents. It’s a desire to compete with Europe that causes these incredible displays.
The Chicago Day festivities include a fireworks display, organized by Frank Millet. By the end of the day, more than 713,000 people have visited, almost twice the previous record set in Paris. With the proceeds from this achievement, the World’s Columbian Exposition Company is able to present the Illinois Trust and Savings Company with a check for 1.5 million and pay off the World’s Fair’s debts for good.
In the end, the patriotism of the United States — and, more specifically, the civic pride of Chicago — saves the WF from financial failure. This makes Burnham’s emphasis on spectacle seem like good economic sense — the benefits of patriotism and entertainment can sometimes be measured numerically, as they are on Chicago Day.
Burnham eagerly prepare for the closing festivities on October 30. He is sure that they will be a testament to his ingenuity and achievement in organizing the World’s Fair — he’s also confident that nothing will go wrong.
By this point in the book, we know that the sentence “nothing can go wrong” exists only to be proven wildly incorrect.