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Amusement parks : Devil in the White City


The attractions sound truly…mind blowing.  If you don’t know about the first Ferris Wheel, you will be amazed and enthralled by the reality of the machine as described. 

Point of caution however, amid the copious discussions of architectural disputes, planning and building set-backs, there is interwoven a gruesome murder story.   These characters shine a special window into the life of those that moved into the cities at that time. But, if you don’t like true crime, you might want to avoid this book.  It is grizzly but fascinating.

What I found surprising and fun were the parallels between the issues and problems of the 1893 World’s Fair and today’s amusement park business.  The planners put in much work and heartache over something so transient. However, just like us, in the end the Fair is an incredible, beautiful and very profitable entertainment experience.  It was grand, expensive, ridiculous and wonderful. 

For those who love all things that celebrate the Wild West, there are some great glimpses at Buffalo Bill and his show, which set up next to the Fair.   Also, there is definitely a bit of a voyeuristic look into the politically incorrect forms of entertainment that were popular at the time.   

Written and read like a novel, but actually non-fiction, I think those working in the amusement park industry would enjoy this “Saga of Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America”.

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