Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Devil in the White City -- An Awful Fight Discussion Questions

I'm not enjoying reading the Holmes sections either. I'm just glad they aren't really graphic so far and I hope they don't become so.

3. Did you notice the "water wars"? Because Georgia is currently engaged in what some are calling a "water war" with Tennessee (and because I live in Chattanooga, on the border between the two states), I noticed Burnham's concern about providing clean water to the fair. Georgia's problem is rapid expansion without planning ahead for the water needs of its people; Burnham's problem was sewage threatening Chicago's water supply. Read the section spanning pages 175-176 about the fight to pipe water from Waukesha, Wisconsin, to the fair in Jackson Park. What was the subtle distinction that allowed Burnham to say the water came from Waukesha?

The subtle distinction that allows Burnham to say the water comes from Waukesha is that he piped the water in from a small town on the edge of Waukesha county, not actually the town of Waukesha.

4. A tiny (four sentence) section at the top of page 181 mentions a pledge recited by school children on Dedication Day. I'd never heard that this was how the Pledge of Allegiance began, had you? Who was Francis J. Bellamy, anyway? (You may have to google or go to Wikipedia to learn more about him. In my research, I discovered that I was two years old when the U.S. Congress recognized the Pledge as the official national pledge.)

I did not know that this was the origin of the Pledge of Allegiance. Francis J. Bellamy was an American Baptist minister and Christian Socialist. Bellamy worked for Youth's Companion in the magazine's premium department. The magazine also sold flags to schools to solicit subscriptions. This turned into a movement to put a flag in every school. As the market became saturated and flag sales slowed, the magazine published a flag salute and Bellamy's pledge. My father's family is from Rome, NY where Bellamy is buried.

5. The original Ferris Wheel was bigger than I realized, at "a bit higher than the crown of the ... Statue of Liberty" (p. 185). I'm sure we'll read more about it in later sections of the book, but say something about the size of the thirty-six "cars" on the Ferris Wheel. (Click to enlarge this photo.)

The two parts that astounded me about the Farris Wheel was that the cars could hold 60 people, had refreshment stands, and there were 36 of them and that the spokes inside the wheel were only 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Amazing!

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