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Century of Progress International Exposition, 1933-34

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Century of Progress International Exposition, 1933-34

The Century of Progress International Exposition celebrated Chicago’s 100th year of incorporation. It was held from May 27 to November 12, 1933 and May 26 to October 31, 1934 on a 427 acres site on the shore of Lake Michigan, immediately south of Chicago’s downtown area. The site was 6 miles long and 600 yards wide and included many lagoons and even a small island. Today, Meig’s Field and McCormick Place occupy this site. The total attendance was 27,703,132 in 1933 and 21,066,095 in 1934. Tickets were 50 cents for adults, 25 cents for children, $15 for the season (150 admissions).

Photo by Kaufmann and Fabry Co, official photographers of the Exposition. Source: Chicago Park District Archives.

Following on the success of his expositions at the Trans-Mississipi Exposition in 1898 and the Pan-American Exposition in 1901, Martin Couney had a large incubator baby pavilion at the Chicago World’s Fair. The photo below shows crowds around the Infant Incubator building on the Midway. Julius Hess, a famous Chicago pediatrician, loaned Couney his head nurse (Evelyn Lundeen) for the duration of the Exposition.

Martin Couney’s exhibit was located near a show by the notorious fan dancer, Sally Rand. The location of the Infant Incubator building is indicated in red.

The entry in the 1934 guidebook is shown below.

The incubator baby exhibit received plenty of attention in the local press, including an article in the Chicago Sunday Tribute of June 5, 1933.

In 1934, Martin Couney organized a reunion of babies that had “graduated” from the incubator exhibit in 1933. One of the letters is shown below.