Chicago symposium 

Later in the year I am off to Chicago & New York for the Urban sketchers Symposium. I knew very little about Chicago.

I knew there was a major fire, they have an elevated rail, they are on a lake….. and the music scene, autos etc. 

so I have been reading Donald L Mille’s book city of the century, the making of Chicago, first 100 years.  


Certainly a go getter place with many firsts, with a bevy of people who came and made their mark on a frontier town which grew into the symposium hosts (and a lot more). It’s a grid city just like Melbourne, so it’s nice to compare the layout to my capital.


I have sketched a few of the personalites, the grid city and a few other things that have tickled my fancy about Chicago.

 I am going to mark the map where I have been during my trip, although I will still get a few maps when I’m there. It looks like I’ll be around the “loop” for most of the time. 

But what of chicago have I noted. Quite a few firsts, including sky scrapers and the use of concrete over metal to strengthen it . The Pullman carriages, I thought were whole trains but they only built carriages…and strangely a town. Sounds like George Pullman was bit of a control freak, I think he meant well but….. so here’s a quick sketch of him from a photo.
Burnham & Root were involved in building the first skyscrapers and then Burnham ran the Columbian exposition, and then died I quickly after…. it was called the Columbian for the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery. 

Here’s Burnham and Root.


The elevator was shown to be safe at the expo by Mr Otis. and sales took off allowing skyscrapers to be built as they were now scalable. Root and Burnham considered the first skyscraper architects. Looking forward to seeing the buildings of theirs that are still there.

The first Ferris wheel was built for the expo. And melted down later…….each car held 60 people. Still the worlds largest Ferris wheel ever built!

The first ever Ferris wheel, built by a young Ferris, to rival the Eiffel Tower, made with similar amount of metal.


Many women were involved in the development of Chicago ( later in the 1800s), as business women and philanthropists. I loved this pic and had to draw it of Bertha who some called the socialite queen of the expo. She also had the first ever “brownies” made for her to entertain guests.

In her husbands will, he was leaving a fair amount of money to whoever her next husband was going to be…….”because he will need it!”

Bertha Palmer

The Pullman sleeping carriage was a first which went from Chicago to the world. Melbourne had 3 Pullman carriages for the southern aurora, but they were too heavy and were kept at Newport workshop in storage for years. 


There is a heck of a lot more so more later.

5 comments

  1. My daughter lives in the ‘Loop’ in downtown Chicago..wish I could have made it to the symposium… but just couldn’t get it worked out this year.

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  2. Bernard, glad your coming to USA for symposium. I have followed your work so hope to see and meet you there. This will be my first symposium. I Live in Florida but have visited Chicago before. Enjoying your Chicago history perspective from across the pond. My career was in Nursing leadership so have a commonality. It will approach quickly. 🦉🎨

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    1. Hi Connie, thanks very much. Happy international nurses day to you. My first symposium to. I look forward to catching up with you, it’ll give me an excuse to have a mojito! I visited Florida in 2010 pre sketching…….

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