Jenison’s round, tent-like structure would have been 3,000 feet wide – that’s just over 1/2 mile. The center steel tower 1,492 feet high (the year Christopher Columbus landed in North America) with an elevator leading to an observatory at 1,000 feet. That’s only 8 feet shorter than the John Hancock Building's highest antenna tip!
|The green circle is exactly 3000 feet in diameter.|
Tim Samuelson, the City of Chicago's Cultural Affairs and Special Events Coordinator was familiar with this plan. He describes it as a “pipe dream” that captured a lot of people’s imagination. Jenison proposed it in the spring of 1890 when planning for the Fair actually began.
Engineering experts questioned whether it was even possible to build it. Some said that in theory, it might be, but most architects believed that the technology wasn’t available yet.
As for the architect, in Tim Samuelson’s words, Jenison was probably kind of “out there.” He monopolized at least one committee meeting with his idea, and one Fair planner stated, “Mr. Jenison calls at headquarters daily.”
Ultimately, Jenison’s plan was rejected when fair Officials decided to build the World's Fair on land in Jackson Park rather than in Lake Michigan.
It was deemed that a building like this would never satisfy exhibitors. as most would want to build their own structures. It would not show exhibits to the best advantage, would mix things up in an incongruous manner—artworks, statues, machinery, goods, locomotives, thrashing machines, and bric-a-brac, etc., that would distract, confuse, and tire the visitors.
|George B. Post’s Manufacturers and Liberal Arts Building|
at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.