New Innovations in 1893

With just a few years before the dawn of the 20th century, many things were already changing and becoming ‘modern’ for your ancestors. These new innovations would truly become a part of your ancestors’ lives very soon. Imagine your grandparents or great grandparents and how they may have felt about the new modern items.

Many were showcased at the Columbia Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, honoring 400 years since Christopher Columbus came to the New World. The fair covered 690 acres and had about 27.3 million visitors over just a few months – May 1, 1893 – Oct 30, 1893. That would be about 1 out of 4 Americans visiting that world fair. Your ancestors may have attended or had friends who visited, but no matter which method, many people learned about these new innovations featured at the fair.

Even demonstrating cultural events from other parts of globe was exciting to visitors. One especially was ‘Little Egypt’ who wowed audiences with her movements, called ‘belly dancing’.

A special giant metal machine at the fair, designed by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., was destined to become a huge part of popular culture long after 1893, known as the giant Ferris Wheel.

Seeing the massive display of fluorescent lights dazzled the people as the light lit up the popular exhibit area named ‘White City’ due to the buildings being painted white and then these bright lights used.

The ‘moving walkway’ was like an amusement ride, it was made of wooden planks and took guests down the Casino Pier for a scenic experience along the water and then looping back to the starting point. The cost was 5 cents per ride. It traveled 2 miles per hour. It did have a problem of breaking down often. So large it could carry 6,000 at one time.

Another innovation at the fair were new products such as Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum. It became a very popular item. Other new items included Cream of Wheat, Shredded Wheat and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer were introduced. Another popular food treat was from Frederick William Rueckheim, a German immigrant, and his brother Louis who were first to add peanuts to molasses-flavored candy-coated popcorn to create Cracker Jack. Then there was the pre-mix for making pancakes, known as Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix.

Introducing something special was Whitcomb L. Judson, who exhibited in 1893, his new invention at the fair he named the ‘Clasp Locker’. We call it today a zipper. The style was improved by Gideon Sundback in 1913.

Josephine Cochrane exhibited her invention of a reliable hand-powered dishwasher.

So many other items were exhibited. Visitors could also purchase souvenirs, such as glass paperweight of images from the fair, or postcards, prints of items like the Ferris Wheel, cups, glasses, spoons, thimbles or match-holders. You should check if any such items have been handed down in the family.

Photos: 1893 Chicago World’s Fair ticket; Palace of Mechanic Arts, Ferris Wheel and the moving walkway.

Related Blogs:

1964 NY World’s Fair

New Items for Your Ancestors

Female Inventors in the 19th Century

< Return To Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.