The World's Columbian Exposition

THE PRESENT CONDITION AND PROSPECTS OF THE GREAT ENTERPRISE — INTERESTING NOTES AND PARTICULARS

Chicago, February 1, 1893. It has been officially announced from the time of the organization of the World’s Columbian Exposition that the formal opening to the public would be on May 1. This date is now three months off, and such an immense amount of work remains to be done that the question arises as to the ability of the Exposition management possibly to come up to time in accomplishing this work. Cold weather has practically prevented outdoor work for some weeks past, and but little work is carried on on the exterior of the buildings. Much important work is still to be done in completing the layout of the grounds. Walks and drives are to be made and hardened, much turfing to be done, flower beds laid out, and other such work done that requires time.

More important than these, however, is the question of installing exhibits. The amount of space to be devoted to exhibition purposes is a little over 3,500,000 square feet. Nearly 1,500,000 square feet of this has been assigned to foreign countries. The Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building, the Palace of Mechanic Arts, the Transportation Building, the Mining Building and others still have some space to spare. Many applications for space in these buildings are on hand and have not yet had assignments made, so that space is by no means begging. In the Electricity Building more than twice the available space has been applied for. Last week a little gain was made, as the allotments made to Mexico, Australia, Canada, Italy and several other nations had not been accepted; so, by the expiration of the time in which acceptances were to be made, the space has reverted to the use of the department to distribute to other exhibitors.

Of the 3,500,000 feet of space to be devoted to exhibition purposes, not a single exhibit is in place in the more important buildings, and with but two exceptions the buildings themselves are not completed. The status of these buildings is as follows:

Manufacturers and Liberal Arts or Main Building. — So far as the exterior is concerned work is completed, but in the interior a large area is yet unpainted. Three railway tracks extend the whole length of the building from south to north for the purpose of unloading exhibits, and quite a number of boxes of exhibits are scattered about. The floor plan is all marked out, but work has not been begun on installing an exhibit. With nearly 800,000 feet of space to be covered with exhibits, three months seems a remarkably short time in which to accomplish all the necessary work.

Palace of Mechanic Arts, or Machinery Hall. — Prospects are rather less encouraging for the prompt completion of the exhibit in this building than in any other. Several weeks’ work remain to be done to finish the exterior of the building. Work on the interior is greatly behind, and much remains to be done before it can be painted. Huge pieces of machinery are scattered about — part of a dynamo here, a fly wheel there, and parts of engines hither and yon. The foundations for the heavy installations are all completed, and most of the flooring is laid. The three electric traveling cranes are in place, and are quite invaluable in expediting things, especially in placing the engines and other heavy machines on their foundations. Three railway tracks enter the building at the west end, and as exhibits are unloaded they are speedily removed by use of the cranes. Half a dozen of the fifty or more engines of the great power plant are in place; but these are by no means ready to put into operation. A few of the boilers are ready for use; in fact, some of them have already been fired up, but most of the batteries are not completed, and work has not been begun on some of the installations, not a brick being laid, or even the preliminary work of clearing away the ground begun. A temporary electric plant occupies space where part of the engine plant is to be, and temporary circuits are stretched from this plant through the building. Among the eminent names in the mechanical world that are conspicuously lettered on the exterior of this building is that of Seimens. It would be an unfortunate blunder not to have this spelling corrected before the Fair opens.

Agricultural Building. — Work is completed on this building, both exterior and interior, and considerable work has already been done preparatory to installing the exhibits of Illinois, Wisconsin, and New Jersey.

Electricity Building. — This building is completed so far as work on it is concerned, and the Bell Telephone Company and the Western Electric Company have the structures to accommodate their exhibits well toward completion. The former occupies a commanding position directly in front of the main entrance at the south end of the building, and gives promise of being very complete. It occupies a space 100 feet long by 75 feet wide, and is raised four feet above the floor of the building, broad stairways leading up to it at each end. A railway track has been laid the entire length of this building on the east and also on the west side, so that with two large temporary electric elevators, just completed, exhibits should be speedily handled and installed.

The Mining Building was completed, so far as the structure was concerned, months ago; but the interior is yet to be painted and the first step toward installing exhibits is not as yet taken. A railway track has been laid through the center of the building preliminary to this.

The Transportation Building is completed; but the work of painting the interior is not quite finished. Tracks for the exhibition cars are all laid, and the electric transfer table is already in operation.

Previous to the dedicatory exercises, last autumn, 8,000 men were employed inside the Fair Grounds. With such a force buildings sprang up almost in a day and slabs of staff were put in place with marvelous rapidity. Need for more such rapid work is now at hand, and it is to be hoped work may be pushed with the vigor that it was then. The facilities are at hand, so far as the Exposition is concerned, for completing its part of the work in time if the vigorous effort of last autumn is again resorted to; and if exhibitors are prompt in doing their share the Exposition may open May 1 in a satisfactory state of completion. But with all the delays incident to having so many interests work promptly and in harmony, the prospects are not as satisfactory to the friends of the Exposition as it is wished they were.

Invitations have just been received in Chicago from the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, asking an inspection of some of the electrical apparatus which is to form part of the incandescent lighting plant at the Fair, and which is now exhibited at this company’s shops, previous to its being shipped to Chicago. The feature of particular interest at this display is one of the 10,000 light dynamos direct coupled to a 1,000 horse power Westinghouse compound engine. The maximum capacity of each of these dynamos is placed at 15,000 sixteen candle power lamps. The weight of each dynamo is 150,000 pounds. The armature alone weighs about 42,000 pounds. The minimum number of lamps called for by the contract between the Exposition and the Westinghouse Company is 92,000 of sixteen candle power, but the company officially announces in its circular that the plant to be installed will be prepared to run 130,000 lamps. The display in Pittsburgh also includes the first public test of the new stopper incandescent lamps, which are to be used in the Fair installation. It is believed that the daily renewals of lamps when the exposition is well under way will be about 1,000 lamps. In order to make a practical exhibit of incandescent lamp making, the company proposes to have as part of its display sufficient facilities to make all their renewals by renewing the carbon burners of the burned-out lamps. As the current from the large generators will be multiphase, the new Tesla motors will be operated by it in addition to the lighting in the Electricity Building. Another prominent feature of this company’s exhibit is announced to be the latest development in long distance transmission of electricity.

So much has been published in the daily press regarding extortionate prices that are to be charged for board and lodging during the holding of the Fair that the Exposition management has taken official action on the subject. Major Kasson, of the Bureau of Public Comfort, has had a canvass made of the city and has established an official directory of desirable rooms and suites of rooms. The bureau offers to sell rental certificates against these rooms, guaranteeing a reasonable and specified price, ranging from $1 upward. In this way intending visitors can select in advance rooms to suit their purses and their convenience, as the directory includes rooms from Lincoln Park on the north to Seventy-third Street on the south. Inside the Fair Grounds ample facilities have been provided for feeding the crowds, as 150,000 or more square feet of space have been reserved for restaurant purposes. It is intended to have these accommodations sufficient to provide for 75,000 people, and on special days nearly as many more. Restaurants will be provided in each of the large buildings and in all parts of the grounds.

Some months ago what were supposed to be ample plans were made for a hospital service at the grounds during the holding of the Fair. The Board of Lady Managers have become interested in the perfecting of these arrangements, particularly as it offered opportunity to show one of the most successful lines of woman’s work, and as a result of this interest the hospital service will not only be planned with a view to caring for the ill and the injured, but it will also be made an exhibit. Leading hospitals in the country will join in the effort to carry out this plan. Several of the best trained nurses in Chicago have offered their services to the Exposition management in order that the hopes of what this hospital ought to be may be realized. All the latest devices for hospital use will be shown in actual operation and use in this hospital, while the ambulance service will be made as complete as possible.

The temporary electric circuits that have been used for supplying current to the various parts of the grounds have been unsightly, as the poles seem to have been set with regard to their being most conspicuous. Now that the subways are all completed and the permanent circuits installed, these poles and the temporary circuits are being removed. Until within a few weeks it has been proposed to string some of the permanent circuits under the elevated tracks of the intramural road, but it has finally been decided that these with all other wires shall go underground.

Dr. Hornsby, who has been secretary of the Department of Electricity since its inception, has been promoted to the position of assistant chief, with increased salary. This is a deserved promotion, as Dr. Hornsby has done practically all the work of the department from the first, the duties of Professor J.P. Barrett, chief of the department, as city electrician of Chicago, having prevented him from giving much direct attention to World’s Fair matters.

The American Institute of Electrical Engineers has been assigned a suite of rooms in the gallery at the south end of the Electricity Building, adjoining the offices of the Department of Electricity. With such facilities, the Institute will be able to fittingly accommodate its members and entertain the many eminent electricians who will be in attendance at the Exposition.

Mr. Willis Hawley, of Urbana, Ohio, has been appointed consulting engineer to the Department of Electricity, and has already entered upon his duties. He is to aid Assistant Chief Hornsby, of this department, in taking immediate charge of the work of installing exhibits.

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