Devil in the White City

1839 WordsMar 9, 20148 Pages
Jordan Tisaranni Humanities Summer Essay Erik Larson states, “The juxtaposition of pride and unfathomed evil struck [him] as offering powerful insights into the nature of men and their ambitions.” This quote relates to the premise of his book The Devil in the White City, which tells two different stories based around a central theme of the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893. One tells of the adventures and horrors that came with being the important figures behind the production of something as great as the exposition. The story focuses mainly on the architects, and even closer on the man who became the official leader of it all, Daniel Burnham. Intricately woven into the tale of the building of the fair is a story that is powerfully more…show more content…
They both had huge ideas that to some people would have seemed impossible and the desire to achieve them. The only difference was which side of the humanistic scale they were on. Essentially, the tactics hidden underneath of the facades were exactly the same: Burnham’s dream being the fair, and Holmes’s dream being a hotel which he could successfully lure women into and kill them without suspicion. Throughout the novel there are many examples of buildings and projects that Burnham had to complete. During the process of building each one there were always challenges that he had to overcome. Before the fair, Burnham and his partner Root were commissioned to build the Montauk. This building had to face a common problem for Chicago: the foundation. There was already a common solution for the problem; however, this building did not have a usual design and required a basement that could not be filled with stone pyramids as the usual design would have made it. Instead, he came up with a better solution that involved a “floating foundation,” and seemed to fulfill its purpose. The Montauk became the first building to be called a “skyscraper.” Since Holmes was not building a skyscraper and instead a three story hotel, he did not have the same issue. Instead, he faced another common problem: money. Though he was not poor, he was only a pharmacist and wished to be able to pay for the construction of a building that would cover the entire block. Just like Burnham, he came
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