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Postcard Gallery: Century of Progress 1933-34

Fire works at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933. Postcard published by Max Rigot Selling Co., Chicago
Fireworks at the Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair in 1933-34. Postcard published by Max Rigot Selling Co., Chicago.


My grandfather was just a boy when he went to the Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago in 1933-1934. One exhibition that made an impression on him was a car that could fly like an airplane. He thought that one day flying cars would be in the skies above us. That hasn’t happened yet, and my grandfather died in 2010.

That exhibit and many others at the fair showed what the future might be like. It gave people a glimpse of modern homes equipped with sleek refrigerators, ranges and washing machines. These items were expected to hit the market in the 1940s; however, World War II put things on hold for a while.

The main fairgrounds were located on Northerly Island and the present site of the Museum Campus. Unlike the mostly government-funded World’s Columbian Exhibition 40 years earlier, the Century of Progress was largely paid for by large corporations and companies, and many showcased their products at the fair.

Fountain at night at the Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair in 1933-34. Postcard published by Curt Teich & Co., Inc., Chicago.

The Ford Building, which was one of the most popular attractions at the fair, demonstrated vehicle production techniques and showcased transportation-related products.

The midway was a place where people could have fun at the fair. A popular air tram ride rose over 200 feet above the fair, giving riders a bird’s-eye view of the exhibition grounds. One of the hits on the midway was American burlesque dancer Sally Rand, part of the Streets of Paris exhibition. Another popular exhibit was the “Infant Incubators with Living Babies,” where a new technology to help premature babies was put on display.

Not all people felt the exhibitions at the fair were appropriate. One exhibit, the Darkest Africa show, openly ridiculed African-Americans. And some restaurants at the fair refused to serve African-Americans. In turn, some boycotted the fair.

Thousands of postcards and photographic images were produced by various companies for the fair; 25 of these postcards are shown here. By far, most of the postcards were linen, which contains a high percentage of rag content. Linen postcards often made for blurry images but produced spectacular colors. I especially like the night postcards from the fair, as the colors jump right out at you. This post features the night postcards from the fair first, followed by daytime color images and then black-and-white images.

The Electrical Building at night at the Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair, 1933-34. Postcard published by the American Colortype Company, Chicago.

The Sky Ride at the Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair in 1933-34. Postcard published by Max Rigot Selling Co., Chicago.


"Rocket Cars" crossing the lagoon at night at the Century of Progress Chicago's World Fair in 1933-34. Postcard produced by Max Rigot Selling Co., Chicago.


The lagoon at night at the Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair, 1933-34. Postcard published by The Reuben H. Donnelley Corp., Chicago.

Night view of the Hall of Science at the Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair, 1933-34. Postcard published by Max Rigot Selling Co., Chicago.


The giant "Scintillator" at the Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair, 1933-34. Postcard publisher unknown.


The marvelous "Scintillator" beams at the Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair in 1933-34. Postcard published by J.O. Stoll Co., Chicago.


The "Singing Color Fountains" at the Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair, 1933-34. Postcard published by The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company.

The Firestone "Singing Color Fountains" at the Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair, 1933-34. Postcard published by The Firestone Tire & Rubber Co.

The General Motors Building at the Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair, 1933-34. Postcard publisher unknown.

The General Motors Building at the Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair, 1933-34. Postcard published by Curt Teich & Co., Chicago.

The General Motors Building at the Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair, 1933-34. Postcard published by the  J.O. Stroll Co. of Chicago.

The Ford Building at night at the Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair, 1933-34. Postcard published by Curt Teich & Co., Chicago. 

The Ford Building at the Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair, 1933-34. Postcard published by Curt Teich & Co., Chicago.

Transportation Row at the Century of Progress 1933-34 Chicago World's Fair. Postcard published by American Colortyoe Co., Chicago.

The Gulf Exhibit at the Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair, 1933-34. Postcard publisher unknown.


Panoramic view of the Century of Progress 1933-34 Chicago World's Fair. Postcard publisher unknown. 


The "Avenue of Flags" at the Century of Progress 1933-34 Chicago World's Fair. Postcard published by Curt Teich & Co., Chicago.

The Electrical Building at the Century of Progress Chicago World's Fair, 1933-34. Postcard publisher unknown.

The General Exhibits Group at the Century of Progress 1933-34 Chicago World's Fair. Postcard published by the American Colortype Co, Chicago & New York.


The Hub, also known as the "Store of Tomorrow," at the Century of Progress 1933-34 Chicago World's Fair. Postcard publisher unknown.

The Illinois Host Building at the Century of Progress 1933-34 Chicago World's Fair. Postcard published by The Reuben H. Donnelley Corp., Chicago.

The Hall of Religion at the
Century of Progress 1933-34 Chicago World's Fair. Postcard published by The Reuben H. Donnelley Corp., Chicago.















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