I just finished The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. It’s about the architect who masterminded the Chicago World’s Fair, and the serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims. More than being about these two men though, it really captures the feel of Chicago in the late 1800s. I’m now fascinated by the onset of the modern city- how things progressed. It also covered the prevailing thoughts on landscaping, architecture, city planning- I have so much I need to read now!
The Chicago World’s Fair was monumentally complex and intricate for a 6 month stint, it’s amazing how much was accomplished. They basically worked for 3 years to build an attraction that would exist for 6 months and then come down. The dedication and work that went into it in the name of civic pride would never happen today. And the results of the fair are fascinating- apparently Walt Disney’s father worked on what pretty much became its own city by the lake, and you can see the comparisons to Walt’s own construction. Frank Baum also said that Oz had roots in the buildings of the fair.
The personalities of the two men discussed in the book were also fascinating, I’d like to read more about Holmes (the serial killer)-he appears to have been a criminal mastermind. Obviously totally psychotic, he was so methodical- he reminds me of the Joker- killing for killings sake in a completely rational irrational way. At least the Joker looks crazy.
Anyway, now I want to go to Chicago, and I have to go visit Balboa Park again now that I have more context for the concept of a World’s Fair- all the buildings there were built originally for a World’s Fair with the plan that they would come down, but afterwards they actually fitted the buildings to be permanent.
Current total: 51
Just finished: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Next up: I think Codex by Lev Grossman, but I might binge on all the Harry Potter books