The Other White City
This chapter examines Joseph Beifeld's attempts to create a respectable amusement park that he envisioned would enhance Chicago's civic health by rejuvenating the senses of its residents. White City represented an effort by nineteenth-century cultural elites to lift up the sensibilities of the working and middle classes by surrounding them with beautifully designed spaces. According to Beifeld, his White City amusement park was a commercial venture based on “humanitarian principles.” The goal had less to do with turning a profit and more to do with raising social and cultural standards for political purposes. After the park's first few seasons that began in 1905, however, Beifeld's uplifting vision faded. This chapter considers why Beifeld's amusement park did not flourish and concludes with a discussion of Jane Addams's claim that Chicago's commercial culture debased the senses of young people and thus degraded their character.
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