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Primary Sources: News from the World's Columbian Exposition

A special edition of the Chicago Tribune was prepared following the first day of the World's Columbian Exposition. The front page of May 2, 1893 described events of the Fair's opening.

Bulletin of
The Daily Tribune
Chicago, Tuesday, May 2, 1893.

Weather for this vicinity: Fair, westerly winds.


  1. Columbian Exposition Open to the World. Scenes in the Grand Stand.
  2. The President Makes a Tour of the Fair.
  3. Nearly a Half Million Attend the Fair. President Cleveland Presses the Button. Guards Handle the Crowd Well.
  4. Woman's Building is Dedicated. Thousands of People See the Great Parade.
  5. Transportation Lines Severely Taxed. The Spectacle Viewed from Aloft.
  6. Grover Greets Foreign Representatives. Swedes Dedicate Their Pavilion. Iowa's Building Formally Opened. Many Homes Flooded at Springfield, O.
  7. Editorial Comment on the Fair. Mrs. Alexander Identified.
  8. "Gath's" Views of "Opening Day." Failure That Seriously Affects West Superior Increase in the Public Debt.
  9. Holiday Crowd at Hawthorne. Northwestern Beaten by Madison.
  10. Drainage Commissioners Inspect the Canal. Distinguished Arrivals at the Hotels.
  11. Mayor of Rock Island, Ill. Installed. Important Electrical Discoveries. Hurly Burly in the Stock Market.
  12. Waiters Go Out on Strike. Peaceful May Day Demonstrations in Europe.

Ready For A World

The Exposition No Longer a Dream; It Is a Reality. With Simple Ceremony Impressive Event a Festival of the Whole People. Epoch in Human Progress. Mind Cannot Grasp What Is Seen in the Eye's Sweep. Yet It Is But The Beginning.

Nature was no laggard yesterday and Saturday's sunburst omen proved true. The veil of mist was lifted from over the White City and the World's Columbian Exposition was opened under fair skies. It was a matter of passing moment. The ceremonies were but the outward show which marked a great event. Yet it was a kindly dispensation which permitted a quarter of a million people to see unfolded the symbol of the Exposition which forms an epoch in human progress.

All the surroundings were there to make it impressive. The imagination which was not stimulated by the scene in Jackson Park would be dull indeed. There were two central figures -- the President of the United States and the inheritor of the name and fame of the discoverer of the New World. At the feet of President Cleveland and the Duke of Veragus was a living panorama instinct with all that was enabling and instructive to the mind of man. The descendant of Columbus, a modest country gentleman of the nineteenth century, in the uniform which marks his rank as a Spanish Admiral, formed a contrast to the President of the United States with his plain garb. In front and around them, hemmed in only by the lines of noble architecture, were the people who had come to have their share in the occasion.

There were the symbols of nations, but nothing so suggestive as the people themselves. It was their festival.

The members of the President's Cabinet, the National Commissioners, Senators and Representatives of the Congress of the United States, Governors and officials of all degrees mingled with the representatives of foreign countries to complete the picture. Looking upon it one could not fail to take flight on fancy's wings and see beyond the curtains of the future.

Looking At Chicago's Future

Following the discoverer's westward course the fruits of four centuries were gathered in the heart of the continent. On the threshold of a new century it was not beyond the mental stretch to see the time when the city in which all the products of all the nations were gathered should be the center of population and the center of influence as well which would dominate the whole continent. In the time of the descendant of Christopher Columbus the city of Chicago has grown...

Through the brief ceremonies there were grouped around the central figures those who must have felt as none others could have felt the triumph which the formal celebration completed. They were the citizens of Chicago who dreamed of the possibilities of a great Exposition and who in the space of a few years have lived to see their visions broadened into realities far beyond those of which they had dreamed. Their aspirations had become realizations, overlapping the narrow bounds in which they had been confined. In the pressure of recognition, quick and sure, there was little need to recall the trials of the past. The Exposition has its being and they might as well be content. In the presence of such mighty circumstances petty strifes and ignoble rivalries fade away. They were sharers in the triumph of their city and of the Mississippi Valley, whose pulse throbs with it....

Women Hurt In The Awful Crush

The Crowd In Front of the Grand Stand Had Little Regard for Any One.

Early in the morning a colored man, who was attired in the uniform of blue and wore on the sleeve of his coat a cross indicating that he belonged to the hospital corps, wheeled an invalid's chair to the left of the space allotted the reporters. The colored man had an easy time of it for an hour or two, but by noon time he had wheeled out half a dozen women who were overcome by the crowd and fainted from sheer exhaustion.

A detachment of Columbian Guards patrolled up and down in front of the grand stand, keeping the crowd about ten or twelve feet removed therefrom. The crowd grew in numbers all the time until finally it was so big it overtopped everything and overran everybody. The guards might with all ease have kept the people away from the stand, and were doing reasonably well until Director of Works Burnham allowed the guards to permit the people to crowd in from the end. Then the trouble began. The crowd surged up against the little slim barrier that protected the correspondents and would have wiped it out of existence in a second but a file of soldiers came along in the nick of time and afforded some protections.

Then people began clambering over the rail and standing on the tables. There were the usual number of interlopers in the quarters set apart for the press and no protection for the correspondents. It looked as if a spark was all that was necessary to make a panic that would have resulted in a great loss of life. The crowd surged to and fro like the breakers of the sea and Rice's guards were powerless to do anything at all. Women fainted and were carried off, and others were squeezed until their ribs fairly cracked. They were pushed up against the barricade and the crowd behind them broke them over the rail. At least twenty women succumbed to the pain and torture of the crush.

The crowd was so big that no one connected with the ambulance corps could come to the relief of the sufferers and the correspondents had to drag the fainting ones over the rail. Finally the cavalrymen rode through the crowd making way for the ambulance which followed and a detachment of the Fifteenth Infantry cleared a space that the sufferers might be taken off.

President Higinbotham and Director-General Davis saw what was going on and told the people to keep cool, all of which was well enough as far as it went, but when one's ribs are getting crushed in and when the life is being thumped out of one's body advice from a man who is sitting high and dry out of harm's way doesn't amount to much. One elderly lady who was caught in the crowd held on to the barricade as long as she could, but finally fainted. She was dragged over the rail and laid out on one of the reporters' tables.

A few fights occurred to relieve the monotony and Col. Rice's Columbian Guards, who stood hard by, drew their swords and began flourishing them about wildly. Late in the proceedings, after the President had left the stand, the crowd in the reporters' quarters became so dense that a number of correspondents clambered up in the grand stand to save themselves from bodily injury.

Music Admirable and Effective.

Instrumental Numbers Triumphant Compositions -- Successful Works by Women

The music of the opening ceremonies was purely instrumental, the choral number -- the "Hallelujah Chorus" from "The Messiah" -- which was to have been sung just after President Cleveland started the machinery, having been omitted owing to lack of accommodations upon the platform for the 1,500 singers. The instrumental numbers consisted of Prof. Paine's "Columbian March and Hymn" and the overture to Wagner's "Rienz." Theodore Thomas and an orchestra of over 200 players were the performers, and the March, triumphant and victorious in character, and Wagner's overture, broadly scored and richly orchestrated, were compositions admirable, and effective even when played out of doors as they were yesterday.

The music in the Woman's Building was both choral and instrumental, a company of 300 voices from the Apollo club assisting Mr. Thomas and his orchestra. The compositions given were written especially for the occasion, a woman musician from Germany, from England, and from America being commissioned by the Board of Lady Managers to do the work. Frau Ingeborg von Bronsart of Weimar contributed a Grand March, a stirring, effective piece, which Mr. Thomas and his men gave as the opening number of the program. A Dramatic Overture by Miss Frances Ellicott of London, written for full modern orchestra, proved a composition creditable to its creator and to the occasion for which it was written.

Mrs. H. H. A. Beach of Boston was the woman chosen to represent America in the music of the ceremonies. She gave a Jubilate for orchestra and chorus, and although they placing of the singers and players was such as to detract from the effectiveness of their efforts, the new work nevertheless succeeded in giving the impression of being dignified and elevated in style, cleverly conceived and skillfully constructed....

In The Grand Stand

People of All Nations Fraternize with Each Other A Kaleidoscopic Scene. Spectators Heartily Cheer All the Notable Persons. Cleveland Sings America. Speeches of Those Taking Part In the Ceremonies. Those Sitting on the Platform

A tall lean man from Oskaloosa, Ia. chartered one of those little push-carts at the Fair at 9:20 o'clock yesterday morning, and engaging the services of a human motive power for the day, had himself wheeled immediately in front of the grand stand and bumped up against one of the largest members of Col. Rice's Columbian Guard.

The gentleman from Oskaloosa was the first man on the ground. His pockets were bulged out with sandwiches and refreshments of a more substantial nature. Settling himself back in his chair and wrapping his long body in a blanket, he calmly awaited the opening of the exercises. Presently he drew from an inner pocket a long-nine cigar and a brimstone match nearly as long as the cheroot. He struck the match and was about to light his torch when a couple of Col. Rice's myrmidons fell upon him bodily and extinguished the flame. "Dry" smokes go at the Fair, but the regulation fumigation doesn't.

In a few minutes Prof. William E. Tomlins loomed up in the background of the big platform. Music stands were carried out on the platform and an immense leather seated oak framed chair was placed well to the front for Grover Cleveland. Then a military chap, who seemed to be the commandant of all the Columbian Guards, roared in a voice that could be heard down in the Calumet swamps:

"Guards put on your gloves!"

The guards obeyed, clothing their hands in nice new white gloves.

"Tea Review's" Correspondent Arrives

A diminutive Japanese gentleman came along about this time. There was no telling how old he was, but it would be safe to say that he will never see 50 again. In honor of the occasion he was clad in a white vest, white gloves, with white necktie, and other articles of raiment. The little man was stopped by a guard, but the gentleman from the land of the Mikado produced a ticket entitling him to a seat among the members of the press, and without delay he took his bench among the workers. He told the boys that he was the staff correspondent of the Tokio Tea Review.

Presently half a dozen electricians marched down to the front of the platform, bringing with them a sort of case made in three decks covered with velvet. Under this envelope was the button or telegraph key by which the machinery was to be set in motion by President Cleveland. They adjusted a wire and prepared that essential feature of the Fair for operation. About this time a fat little fellow who wore a dirty slicker and had his trousers stuck in his boots stepped up to the flagstaff in front of the platform, and, putting his muscles into service on the halyards raised the American flag to the top of the pole, where it hung in a ball awaiting the moment when it should serve as a signal to the world at large that the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 was duly started. After discharging this part of his duty the gentleman at the halyards cocked his eye at the peak of the Administration Building, where stood a pale-faced fellow handling some ropes. At this individual the first gentleman shouted:

"Run up that there flag, Perry and take the turns out of it!"

In response to this order, "Perry" shook out a blue flag covered with stars. The nationality which claimed this color as its emblem was unknown to the crowd and comments were freely indulged upon the propriety of exhibiting it to the public....

World's Columbian Exposition News

Yesterday -- President Cleveland Open the Fair -- Dedication and Formal Completion of the Woman's Building -- The Swedish Building Dedicated -- Special Exercises Held at the Missouri, Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and German Buildings -- Mr. Cleveland Meets Representatives of Foreign Nations in the Manufactures Building -- Parade Viewed by Thousands of People -- The President Makes a Tour of the Fair and Leaves for Washington -- The Government Building is Formally Opened -- First Illumination at the Grounds -- Californians Presented with a Flag for Their State Building -- Dr. Bloom, a Newspaper Correspondent from Vienna, Arrested by an Officious Columbian Guard -- Three Men Arrested for Selling Alley "L" Tickets for 10 Cents -- Chicago Band Gives a Concert on the Plaza -- Transportation Lines to Jackson Park Unable to Handle the Crowds.

Today -- Banquet to the Duke of Veragus -- Concert in Music Hall This Afternoon, Paderewski Likely to Play -- The Council of Administration Will Decide the Paderewski Piano Complication.

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