Burnham's Changes In Chicago During The Gilded Age

1254 Words6 Pages

Throughout the 19th century, the American geography noticed a considerable change. As cities grew taller and taller, finally meeting the sky with metal and glass, more and more people moved to live in the intensifying hustle and bustle. This is especially true for Chicago, a sprawling metropolis nestled in Illinois next to the Great Lakes. During the late 19th century, the city became one of the largest in America. New faces constantly appeared in the always busy Chicago train stations, desperate yet hopeful for a new life in the big city. However, not all was well in Chicago during the midst of the World’s Columbian Exposition, otherwise known as The Chicago’s World’s Fair. Chicago was cast in a dark light in American society, especially …show more content…

Even while constructing the fair, there were numerous casualties in the labor force. Burnham himself held an authoritarian rule of the laborers of the Fair. He had ordered one of the construction’s managers to “fire any man who did inaccurate or slouchy work or who failed to do more than his full duty” despite knowing those who were dismissed “faced homelessness and poverty; their families confronted the real prospect of starvation” (Larson 145). Burnham’s actions mirror the strict rules that many business leaders during the Gilded Age had enforced onto their workers. The new, postindustrial work ethic that focused on unskilled and repetitive labor made the majority of America’s laborers disenfranchised with their mundane jobs. Unrest followed, especially in Chicago where industry was a major part of its economy (Woodbridge). This just added to the chaotic atmosphere of the city. During a protest in Chicago with over 25,000 unemployed workers, a man asked the question: “why should the wealth of the country be stored in banks and elevators while the idle workman wanders homeless about the streets and the idle loaders who hoard the god only to spend it in riotous living are rolling about in fine carriages?” (Larson 315). Inequality was rampant during that time, especially in Chicago where the majority lived in miserable

Open Document