BURNHAM’S DREAM: THE WHITE CITY

American Celebration

Book by June Finfer
Music by Elizabeth Doyle
Lyrics by June Finfer and Elizabeth Doyle

The 1893 Columbian Exposition, known as one of the greatest World’s Fairs, was built to exhibit the wonders of technology, science, and art before the turn of the 20th century.   Planned and constructed under the leadership of Daniel Burnham, Chicagoans worked together to create a temporary city that drew millions of visitors.  The architecture and exhibits of the Fair influenced the nation in the next century.

In the 1909 Plan of Chicago, Burnham wrote: “This same spirit which carried out the Exposition in such a manner as to make it a lasting credit to the city is still the soul of Chicago, vital and dominant….This spirit—the spirit of Chicago—is our greatest asset. It is not merely civic pride: it is rather the constant, steady determination to bring about the very best conditions of city life for all the people…”

The White City depicts how Burnham, despite great personal challenges and loss, succeeds in creating the great Fair, a safe, efficient, and beautiful temporary city full of modern wonders.  This musical explores the politics and passions behind a unique national event, in many ways the first and last of its kind.