The Devil in the White City

The Devil in the White City

The Devil in the White City Part 3, Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Olmsted leaves the World’s Fair landscape in Ulrich’s hands and travels around the country working on other projects. He reports that people in other states are excited and enthusiastic about the World’s Fair, but adds that they think it’s incomplete and that the financial recession is making it difficult for people to travel to Chicago. The summer heat also discourages people from visiting. People are afraid that Chicago will charge them too much, particularly for food.
Olmsted may not be in Chicago, but he continues to provide valuable help to the WF — he reports on the WF’s potential customers. As a national event, the Fair needs to attract people from all over the country and the world — thus, an economic recession poses a huge threat to the Fair’s success. In a way, the Fair’s organizers have to fight the recession itself to make their event a success.
Themes
Ego and Cooperation Theme Icon
Civic Pride and American Patriotism Theme Icon
Olmsted offers some criticisms of the landscaping at the World’s Fair. He suggests that more gravel paths be added, and that the grounds be cleaned more thoroughly. He also finds the steam vessels Burnham has approved to be loud and annoying. Olmsted wants to create a mood of charm and mysteriousness in Jackson Park, and proposes that foreign touches, such as Chinese lanterns and Italian dancers, be added.
Olmsted continues to fret over seemingly small details of the Fair — once again Burnham’s choice of boats displeases him. In a way, Olmsted is the most painstaking and detail-obsessed creative figure at the WF. He’s also one of the most internationally-minded — he understands that the event must truly be a “World’s” Fair, and thus needs to incorporate elements of foreign cultures into its design.
Themes
Ego and Cooperation Theme Icon
Civic Pride and American Patriotism Theme Icon
Burnham is surprised and confused by Olmsted’s suggestions. He wants the Fair to be monumental and imposing, not light and subtle. He exercises enormous control over the running of the World’s Fair. Visitors bring Kodak cameras to take photographs of the attractions in Jackson Park, but Burnham forbids them from taking photographs for free.
Burnham needs to be forward-thinking, since so much of the technology and design on display at the WF is cutting-edge. With this in mind, it’s a little surprising that he doesn’t recognize the photograph as a powerful promotional tool — instead of encouraging tourists to spread photographs of the WF around the country, he forces them to pay for each shot under the assumption that if people can see the Fair in photographs they may not come in person.
Themes
Ego and Cooperation Theme Icon
A fire breaks out at the Cold Storage Building, leading several investors and insurers to pull out. Burnham isn’t informed of the fire or the investors’ cancellations.
In spite of Burnham’s high level of control, the WF is too large and complicated for any one person to know everything about it.
Themes
Ego and Cooperation Theme Icon
Get the entire Devil in the White City LitChart as a printable PDF.
The devil in the white city.pdf.medium