A Look Back: Illinois in 1893

Illinois became a state on Dec. 3, 1818, but 1893 was one of the most significant years in Chicago’s history.

According to the 1890 census, the population of Illinois was 3,826,351. There were three “cities” of over 25,000 in Illinois.

According to the 2010 census, the population of Illinois was 12,830,632. There are now 10 cities of more than 100,000 in the state. Chicago’s population in 2010 was 2,695,598.

Chicago hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition (also known as the World’s Fair) in 1893. The Fair ran from May 1 – October 30 that year, and left an enormous influence on the Chicago we know today.

Though the physical building has been relocated, the Field Museum of Natural History was built for the Fair, as were the Museum of Science and Industry and the Art Institute of Chicago.

There were two first appearances at the Fair in Chicago in 1893: the original Ferris Wheel and the first commercial “movie theater.” Milton Hershey purchased his first chocolate manufacturing equipment at the Fair, and F.W. Rueckheim introduced the world to a mix of popcorn, peanuts and molasses that would come to be known as “Cracker Jack” a few years later.

A non-Fair related fun fact, Marshall Field III was born in 1893. He would later found the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper, which still exists today.

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