Essay on Midway Plaisance

2019 Words 9 Pages
Midway Plaisance

The Midway first came to being during the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago as a bit of an accident. The world's fair scheduled for 1892 was pushed towards a higher standard than most others. The successes of the 1876 Philadelphia and 1889 Paris fairs drove the Chicago planners to produce something even greater. As stated by Richard Wilson, the Paris fair especially hit home for the Americans. The sheer magnificence of the buildings and exhibits made the United States look very backward indeed. While France and the rest of the Old World countries held their own with remarkable advances in art, architecture, and science, the U.S. appeared to be falling behind. America's relatively inferior showings didn't help to
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Nonetheless vendors created a great hindrance for the fair planners. The intrinsic disorder and disjointed look of such a gathering would have been anathema for the dignified, traditional image that the US was trying to project. A compromise was reached by way of the small strip of land between the two areas of the Fair, Jackson and Washington Parks. This isthmus was dubbed the Midway Plaisance, or "the Midway" for short. While appearing to be simply a large freestanding, oddly placed circus, the Midway proved to be an immensely popular, almost essential part of the Columbian Exposition.

One of the most noticeable features of this stereoscopic view is the immense crowd of people, man and woman, child and adult, all gathered to experience the excitement of the Midway. The most obvious reason for the popularity of the Midway was its very purpose. Despite the numerous, novel exhibits of the main Fair, the Midway's "'Barnumesque eclecticism' and exuberant chaos" (Findling, p. 127) was simply designed to entice crowds with its bright lights and happy sounds.

Its makeup, as a rule, was kept diversified, with as many varieties of entertainment as there were people to be entertained. There were caged wild animals to be seen, and jugglers to be watched. Different traveling troupes put on all sorts of performances, from bawdy comedies to jolly songs. There were many vendors on hand to satisfy an appetite or rampant sweet tooth. International exhibits were also

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