A sellout crowd of history lovers gathered at the Rob Roy Golf Course clubhouse in Prospect Heights recently to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, held along Chicago's lakefront.
The evening was the third annual History in the Headlines dinner, co-sponsored by the Mount Prospect Historical Society and River Trails Park District.
Many of the guests arrived in period-appropriate costumes, adding to the fun of the evening.
The 1893 Columbian Exposition still stands as one of Chicago's greatest moments in history. Held only 22 years after a massive fire destroyed most of the city, it marked the high point of The Gilded Age of rapid industrial growth and immigration.
Ostensibly held to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus' landing, it was actually an attempt to generate profits, boost real estate values and promote the rebuilt city.
Guests at the April 5 dinner were able to pose for photos in front of a hand-painted backdrop of the original Ferris wheel, stroll past huge photos of the exposition, read history boards, participate in a World's Columbian Exposition trivia contest and enjoy a delicious meal of food items that were offered at that gathering 120 years ago.
The photo backdrop as hand-painted by Donna Koda of Elegant Accents, a Mount Prospect-based trompe l'oeil painting firm.
After dinner, the fair's master builder, Daniel Burnham (played by Chicago actor Robert Lindsey), entranced the crowd by showing old photos and telling the story of the building of the World's Columbian Exposition, from the first shovelful of earth to the world's largest enclosed building.