January 12, 2009
Blarney and Donegal in Chicago

Last week I talked about seeing America's first serial killer from the Ferris Wheel.

Well, here's the view the other way.

Recently I decided to try and make sense out of the different names for the Midway Plaisance exhibits. A few months back, I found one thing, and Ed, the researcher at Brooklyn Museum, replied with slightly conflicting information. The main question I had left was, where was the Irish Village really?

I could barely understand my own narrative of the photo, let alone Ed's. After some web searching I found a map which matched his descriptions of the Midway, titled as a plan. Now I was armed with two maps including Chicago History Museum's tourist map to compare with the reality of the bird's eye photo (I later found a third that's great too). Pulling out the handful of digital texts I've downloaded related to World's Fair, I went web searching for text and hopefully photos to discern what was going on.

The surprising answer was that there were two Irish Villages, within a stone's throw from each other. One was sponsored by Irish Industries and had a Blarney Castle replica, and the other had a half-scale Donegal Castle.

Here are two shots of the Irish Industries exhibit, a scene from Brooklyn's photostream and from across the Midway.

A photo on page 99 of World's Fair through a Camera (1893) shows the glass works next to the Donegal Castle gate. Also a discussion of the two villages is on page xxv of Art & Architecture (1893). An example of the "change over time" of the fair... this photo shows the Irish Village on opening day, with Blarney Castle not yet built.

I went ahead and polluted the photo with notes for every exhibit I could see. Then I turned my attention back to the westward view and did the same. Then I stumbled on the Smithsonian's Columbian Exposition photos, and provided information for the contents of each. Then I went kind of nuts and started noting every building, land feature, or statue in the Brooklyn Columbian Exposition photos, rather haphazardly I'm afraid.

The commentary on the photo on Flickr has become very interesting.

Written by Rob Ketcherside at January 12, 2009 10:07 PM
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