Friday, October 7, 2011

Fleet Feet History Run: 1893 World's Fair

This past Sunday I got the opportunity to go on one of Fleet Feet Chicago's History Runs.  Diana mentioned to me how fun the runs were and everything else I have done with Fleet Feet has been awesome, so I was glad I got to participate this time.  I love learning new things and the history of the World's Fair piqued my interest as well.  
Map of our Run
I headed over to the Piper's Alley location, which was actually my first time in that store, it is much bigger than the Lincoln Square one that I usually go to.  There were brief introductions and what the plan for the run was at the store before we headed onto a big yellow bus.   
There were about twenty-five of us in the group.  We headed over to Jackson Park which is on the southern side of the city.  I have never been down there before, but it is really nice.  The Lakeshore Trail goes all the way down there and is way less crowded then the trail closer to the city.  It was beautiful!  We were dropped off and headed onto the trail.  
Chuck is the History Run leader and had tons of information to share with us throughout the run.  We had a few big picture books that showed us what the area we were standing in at each spot looked like during the fair.  I read/listened to The Devil in the White City about a month ago which talks about the World's Fair, so it was cool to actually visit the places where all of that took place.  Most of the buildings and things from the fair were made of plaster (and meant to be temporary) so they deteriorated over time or were burned down, so having the pictures was helpful.

The course we took was just over three miles and we stopped about twelve times to stop and discuss the history of where we were standing.  This included looking at pictures from the fair, events that occured there, famous people who were around, etc.  I found it all quite interesting.  It was a little chilly, but such a nice day for this run.  We kept a pretty easy pace throughout and the tour lasted about two hours.   

The Columbian Exposition, or World's Fair, was held in Chicago in 1893 in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival to North America (they even had replicas of the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria made and sent from Spain on display!).  The fair lasted six months, from May to October, and had over 20 million visitors.  It took place in Jackson Park and was full of displays and experiences from countries all over the world.  
These are just a few of the many different facts we learned on our run:
This is a replica of the Statue of the Republic which was a major figure at the Columbian Exposition of 1893.  It was 65 feet tall and made of plaster.  This replica is a third the size of the original. 
This is Wooded Island which is about a half mile long in the middle of lagoon in Jackson Park.  It was the "nature sanctuary" of the fair.  Two of the gardens from the fair are still there: the rose garden and the Osaka Japanese Garden.  

Here are the Japanese Gardens which are really beautiful.  It is a quiet, serene area right by the lagoon.  
This is one of a few buildings that was actually used during the fair and is still around today.  During the fair it was the Palace of Fine Arts.  It was renovated in 1933 and today is the Museum of Science and Industry.  

Overall I really enjoyed the History Run.  I thought it was well organized, well paced, and a great interactive way to learn something new.  We got to actually run by and see all the places we were discussing and Chuck had lots of great information to share with us.  Fleet Feet does one every month, so if you are in the Chicago area you should check one out if you are interested!
In the Japanese Garden
Have you ever been on a history run or would you be interested in doing one yourself?