The Vanishing City: Excavating the World's Fair | Newberry

The Vanishing City: Excavating the World's Fair

Digging at the Ohio Building

Image © Rebecca Graff

Ohio Building at the Fair

Rebecca Graff

Image © Ryan J. Cook

A Lecture by Rebecca Graff
Thursday, October 4, 2018

6 to 7 pm

Ruggles Hall

Free and open to the public. Registration required.
Open to the Public

Listen to an audio recording of this program.

Lasting for only six months before its structures “vanished,” the 1893 World’s Fair’s permanent impact on American consumer culture, city planning, questions around citizenry and foreignness was deeply tied to and reinforced by its ephemerality.

Rebecca Graff will speak about her archeological and archival research focused on the ephemeral “White City” and Midway Plaisance of the 1893 Chicago Fair. The results of the excavation in Jackson Park revealed a robust archeological signature of the extensive sanitary infrastructure of the Fair and, surprisingly, delicate plaster remains of the Fair’s Ohio State Building. Graff’s work links the Fair, as a catalyst for structural change and its material record, to the larger social structures of late nineteenth-century America.

Rebecca S. Graff, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Chair of American Studies at Lake Forest College, is the author of the forthcoming, The Vanishing City and the Enduring Home: Approaching Modernity at Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and the Charnley House, which is based on an archeological and archival project focusing on the ephemeral “White City” and Midway Plaisance of the 1893 Chicago Fair. It is being published through the Society for Historical Archaeology. The material that serves as its basis earned Graff the 2013 Kathleen Kirk Gilmore Dissertation Award.

Download a PDF flyer for this event to post and distribute, and check out a Quick Guide to related materials in the Newberry collection.

This event, cosponsored with the Newberry’s program in Chicago Studies, is part of our programming in connection with the exhibition Pictures from an Exposition: Visualizing the 1893 World’s Fair. See it from September 28 to December 31, 2018, at the Newberry.

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Cost and Registration Information 

Free and open to the public; registration required. Register online using this form by 3 pm Thursday, October 4.

Doors open half an hour before the program begins, with first-come, first-served seating for registered attendees. If seats remain available, non-registered individuals will be permitted to enter about ten minutes before the event’s start. Questions? Contact us at or 312-255-3610.