Which Chicago world's fair innovations are still with us?
The 1893 and 1933-34 expositions — world’s fairs by another name — firmly cemented Chicago’s reputation as a place where invention, impact and innovation come together.
The Columbian Exposition of 1893 featured such debuts as:
1. The automatic dishwasher
2. The Ferris wheel
3. A mixture of popcorn, peanuts and molasses that later became popularized under the trade name “Cracker Jack.”
4. The ice cream cone
5. Eadweard Muybridge’s zoopraxiscope, which showed moving pictures to a paying public for the first time; the first commercial movie theater.
6. A first moving walkway opened to the public, called The Great Wharf, Moving Sidewalk; people could walk along or ride in seats.
7. The first picture postcards and commemorative stamp set issued by the U. S. Post Office
8. The first commemorative coins (a quarter and a half dollar) issued by the U. S. Mint.
9. The “clasp locker,” a slide fastener and forerunner to the zipper, demonstrated by Whitcomb L. Judson.
10. Spray painting, invented by Francis Davis Millet to speed up fair construction.
Chicago did it again in 1933-34 with the Century of Progress International Exposition.
The really big deal was the Sky Ride, which transported visitors in enclosed cars 218 feet above the North Lagoon between two 628-foot steel towers. The ride allowed visitors to cross the fairgrounds at Burnham Park.
Notable events in connection with this world’s fair included:
The Homes of Tomorrow exhibition, which demonstrated modern home convenience and creative practical new building materials.
The first Major League Baseball All-Star Game, held at Comiskey Park (then-home of the Chicago White Sox).
The arrival of the Burlington Route’s “Zephyr” train, dramatically capping a record-breaking speed run from Denver, Colo., by arriving on-stage at the fair’s “Wings of a Century” transportation pageant. It and the Union Pacific Railroad’s debut of the M-10000 that year are credited with helping to launch an era of industrial streamlining.
— Sun-Times Media