“The Vanishing City:” Excavating the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893
Rebecca Graff

Thursday, January 24, 2019, 7 p.m.  (reception starts at 6:30 p.m.)
$10 admission. Payable at the door (cash, MC or Visa).
EHC members are free!
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The 1893 World’s Fair lasted for only six months before its structures “vanished.” But the fair’s permanent impact on American consumer culture, city planning, and questions around citizenry and foreignness was deeply tied to and reinforced by its ephemerality. Professor Rebecca Graff discusses her archeological and archival research focused on the Fair’s ephemeral “White City” and Midway Plaisance. The results of the excavation in Jackson Park revealed a robust archeological signature of the extensive sanitary infrastructure of the Fair and, surprisingly, delicate plaster remains of the Fair’s Ohio State Building. Graff’s work links the Fair, as a catalyst for structural change and its material record, to the larger social structures of late nineteenth-century America.

Rebecca Graff is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the American Studies Program at Lake Forest College. She is an historical archaeologist with research interests in the 19th- and 20th-century urban United States. She explores the relationship between temporality and modernity, memory and material culture, tourism, and nostalgic consumption through archaeological and archival research. Her dissertation (soon to be published) is titled: “The Vanishing City: Time, Tourism, and the Archaeology of Event at Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.” Other Chicago archaeological projects she has directed include excavations at the Louis Sullivan-designed Charnley-Persky House (2010, 2015), the Haymarket Martyrs’ Monument (2016), the Gray-Cloud House (2018), and Mecca Flats (2018). She has an MA and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of and a BA in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley.