This thesis will deal with the exhibition architecture that could be seen at The World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, 1893. The work’s aim is to briefly trace the background for this World’s Fair, to lay out the decision making process and the reasoning behind the choices that were made in relation to the architectural scheme. Further the work will use the insight gained through this examination to analyze selected structures at the fair grounds, in White City as it came to be known. These two parts will then offer the canvas needed in an analysis of how it might have been to visit this White City. What sort of setting did the architecture create, what sort of behavior did it encourage, or allow, and what types of narratives did it beget. This will be done through selected first hand accounts from the time of the fair and through an approach of Mieke Bal’s method of narratology assisted by Jacques Derrida’s theories concerning ergon and parergon and how this relates to an architectural frame.
There are a great many works, of almost every conceivable nature, that in some way touches upon the events of the fair. It was a seminal event in American history. Yet, not many deals with the architecture in detail, of not only how the buildings looked, but also how they “lived” and operated. This is to an extent also the case with the choice of this architecture and the causes of the choices made, many have, or have had, opinions of its worth, but not many have tried to examine this process in some depth. This is what this work will attempt to do.