Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Gabriel Yon Balloon (Amusement) Park on Cottage Grove and 50th Street, Chicago, Illinois. (1892)

Gabriel Yon Balloon Company presents the "best select amusement place in Chicago." Offering daily captive ascensions (1,300 feet high) from 10am to 10pm, weather permitting with Captain Julhes Gourier,  Engineer Aeronaut. Grand concerts by a ladies orchestra every afternoon and evening. The only enterprise of this kind in America.
The internet shows an incorrect date for this poster as 1883. The correct poster date in 1892.
Scientists, meteorologists, and engineers who considered themselves at the forefront of the science of ballooning at the end of the 19th century were busy preparing exhibitions and lectures for their colleagues and for the general public who were soon to attend the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

At the same time, Jules Juvenet, president of the French company Gabriel Yon Ballooning, was planning a balloon spectacle, featured in the poster, which threatened to undermine advocates' best efforts at legitimizing the growing process of aeronautical science.

In June of 1892, the Chicago Daily Tribune proudly announced, a full year before opening to the World's Fair, that Chicagoans would have the opportunity to observe or to take a ride in hot-air balloons - one large enough to carry 15 passengers. In late August, citizens had the chance to purchase a 25¢ ticket to enter Chicago's Balloon Park and watch the maiden voyage of the balloon Columbus. However, all did not go well. Due to strong air currents, Juvenet postponed the launch several times. By the time the balloon made its awkward ascension to a mere 100 feet (the expectation was 1,200 feet or more) and descended in an equally jerky fashion, the crowd of about 600 had been baking in the sun for five hours.

At the second launch two days later, only 50 people showed up; five days after that, Captain Julhes and engineer Grurier (see inserts at the top and bottom of poster) quit the company. A few days later, Juvenet was arrested and charged with larceny (theft of personal property)

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

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