A Century of Progress
The 1933 Chicago World's Fair was an unabashed love affair with science and technology, and the human triumph over the forces of nature.
DAWES: We remind ourselves of that triumph tonight by taking rays of light that left the star Arcturus, to put into operation the mysterious forces of electricity, which will make light our grounds, decorate our buildings with brilliant colors, and move the machinery of our exposition. [:27]
As the speech by one of the organizers shows, when the "œCentury of Progress Exhibition" opened 75 years ago tonight, it did so in high-tech style -- with the light of the star Arcturus.
Four observatories collected light from the star, and converted it to an electric signal. The signal was transmitted over telegraph wires to Chicago, tripping a switch to light up the fairgrounds. The last signal came from the University of Chicago's Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin:
FOX: Yerkes, send us your signal! The voice of Arcturus now sits high, and the searchlight on the tower blazes forth its beam of light, like the blazing purpose of mankind! [:25]
Arcturus blazes down on us tonight. The brilliant yellow-orange star is high in the sky at nightfall, and wheels across the west later on -- a beacon that illuminated a symbol of technological progress 75 years ago tonight.
Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2008
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