Fist Of History

October, 2011Archive for

World’s Columbian Exhibition of 1893 and Girls’ Feet

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Source: Life Magazine, 1893

The World’s Columbian Exhibition of 1893 was an incredible event, a huge fair in the city of Chicago exhibiting high points of culture and progress both from the United States and the rest of the world.  It drew a vast number of tourists and was considered one of the gems of the American continent in the 1890s.  This prompted some envy in other cities, like New York, where Life Magazine was based.  Which in turn sparked an odd semi-obsession with making jokes about the size of women’s feet in Chicago.  The above cartoon is just one example of this, repeatedly in magazine editions from 1893 are odd jokes about Chicago women having giant feet.  No explanation is ever provided for how this joke started or what inspired it, nor why it ran for months as a point of humor in educated New York circles.  I’ve researched it now for several months and all I can say is – apparently this was as much an inside joke then as something like keyboard cat would be today.

If anyone out there has any extra information on this send it by – I’d love to know more.