The Devil in the White City

Daniel Burnham’s extraordinary effort to build the White City for the Columbian Exposition, Chicago’s answer to the Parisian First World’s Fair. H. H. Holmes (nee Herman Mudgett) and his murder castle, luring single young women to their deaths by chloroform and gas. The Chicago fair of 1893 brought hordes of people to the city, keeping the Chicago police too busy to notice the disappearance of the women.
Larson does a good job weaving the Holmes story in between the tale of the building of the Fair. Olmstead’s landscaping dreams, Walt Disney’s father working as a carpenter for the fair (and his stories no doubt influencing Walt’s later Dreamword of Disney), the first elevator unveiled, the Ferris wheel’s introduction to society.
Average wordsmithing keeps this book off my recommended list, but it is intriguing at times. To think, my high-school paper on HH Holmes and his murderous ways broached this subject 10 years ago.


auth=Larson, Erik
pub=2003
sub=Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America