|Friedrich "Fritz" Alfred Krupp|
Friedrich Alfred Krupp was known as “Fritz” since the age of 14 and was nothing like his father and grandfather, at least not at first glance. While his father Alfred was known as a stern industrialist and actively involved in the political activities of Germany, Fritz was more interested in natural science, generosity, and suffered from asthma which was more than likely the result of growing up around the poor air quality which surrounded the steel making factories. At one point, his father had thought of disowning him and naming one of his nephews as heir but eventually, Fritz reluctantly gave in to the wishes of his father and took over when his father passed in 1887. While the Krupp empire was involved in many different aspects of metal manufacturing it was the tools of war, specifically the Krupp canons that made the Krupp name world-renowned.
NOTE: Two different companies. The "KRUPP Cast Steel Company" was founded in 1811. The "KRUPS Household Appliances Manufacturers" (today's coffee brewing machines) was started in 1846.The 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition was the perfect venue to show off the metalworking prowess bearing the Krupp name and Krupp spent a good amount of his own money to do so.
German architects decided to use timber and steel rather than the white plaster used for the majority of buildings in the White City. The style of the building was also unique; historical and regional forms were mixed so that the building as a whole embodied the entire German aesthetic.
The entrance hall was 138 feet long by 25 feet wide by 30 feet high while the main exhibit hall was 197 feet long by 82 feet wide by 43 feet high. It was located between the replica of the Convent La Rabida and the Leather Exhibit just south of the moving sidewalk and Casino Building. This area is currently occupied by the La Rabida Children’s Hospital. The structure cost Krupp upwards of 1.5 million dollars to erect and about the same amount to transport it to and from the fair. The pavilion housed both tools of war and peace but honestly, it was the big gun that drew the crowds.
|The $1.5 million dollars Krupp Pavilion at Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.|
|Inside the main exhibit hall of the Krupp Pavilion showcasing both of the world's largest steel canons. It had been said that neither one worked well.|
Aside from the spectacular guns, Krupp introduced the Expo crowds so something that they had not experienced before, indoor air-conditioning. People had often entertained the idea of cooling a building in warm temperatures much like heating a building in cool temperatures but up to this point had not seen such a device in actual service.
|Krupp Gun Exhibit Building from across the water.|
Krupp was ahead of his time in how he treated his employees. Around the world, there was a growing distrust between employees and employers but Krupp was a leader in employee relations. He built entire colonies or towns for his employees. He provided them with family housing, bachelor housing, schools, libraries, parks, hospitals, and gymnasiums. He also created a pension fund for those who achieved 20 years of service, a disability pension fund for those hurt in the performance as “Kruppianers” as well as a fund for the widows and children of workers who had died. He also set up the predecessor of our 401(k) by having workers opt to invest 3% of their income and the company would match 100% of their contributions. Additionally, he paid for a retirement home for the elderly among the veteran “Kruppianers.” He did all this in order to create a sense of loyalty and family among his workforce. Oddly enough all of this benevolence toward his employees created contention between the Krupps and the Socialist Democratic Party which thrived and gained support based on vilifying big business which generally did not treat their employees well at all. This could have ultimately led to his undoing.
After the Expo ended, Krupp dismantled his pavilion, and by the third week of March 1894, his “big gun” was on its way back to Germany by Steamer.
NOTE: I doubt the Krupp Pavilion was reconstructed in Germany. Most likely, the steel and other building materials that were saved were used for other purposes.Krupp merged with Thyssen AG in 1999, creating ThyssenKrupp AG, a leading global manufacturer of steel, construction materials, automotive parts and assemblies, and industrial and mechanical services. ThyssenKrupp AG is also known to produce amusement and sports items such as sparklers (fireworks), bobsleds, and protective glass (polycarbonate) panels for ice hockey rinks, the firm’s main business sectors involve metal fabrication, mechanical engineering, and the production of elevator systems.
By Ray Johnson
Edited by Neil Gale, Ph.D.