Chicago: Crossroads of America

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.
– George Santayana

This statement cannot be refuted. People should know their history in order to have the future. A great role in understanding one’s history is played by historical exhibitions. They can be especially helpful for young people who will be able not only to read about some historical events, but to see some pictures of those distant years.

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hus, the exhibition “Chicago: Crossroads of America” at the Chicago History Museum provides people with a great opportunity to find out something new in the history of this great city and too see the artifacts which reflect some peculiarities of Chicago story and represent a part of American culture.

This exhibition embraces the entire history of Chicago. Of course, it points out the most significant eras of this city which made it well-known worldwide. As far as I am concerned the most fascinating and ambiguous part of Chicago history was the era of jazz and gangsters. Many books reveal the years of gangsters revealing different figures and some pictures, but it is impossible to feel that atmosphere reading a book.

However, in the “Chicago Jazz and Blues club” the visitor becomes a kind of part of those years. When I was there I immediately started thinking about gangsters and Prohibition. When I saw “copper still and bucket for making alcohol” I was a bit surprised how easy gangsters could create the drinks and, of course, money.

I would not say that this is the most significant artifact at the entire exhibition, but it is definitely interesting since it is impossible to imagine this apparatus (and evaluate people inventiveness) if you are reading about it in the book, and even if you see the picture. It is necessary to add that this artifact is the part of Chicago history since the 20-30 was “the jazz era” which was “accompanied by prohibition” (Lewis 436). Thus, this part of exhibition is the reflection of a definite period of time.

However, the most significant artifact which reflects not only the history of Chicago, but the whole spirit of this city is, to my mind, the Pioneer locomotive. This great construction symbolizes the rapid development of the city and its continuous progress. Of course, now there are many machines which are faster and more progressive. However, this “old” locomotive seems a great the great guard of the past and the future of the city.

As Hudson stated (precisely and gracefully) that the railroads “completed the work which nature had begun of making Chicago the great central mart of the continent” (Hudson 27). This locomotive is embodiment of this supremacy. In my opinion, the Pioneer is a symbol of the eternal development of humanity. People will never stop moving forward on the powerful locomotive of progress. Thus, The Pioneer can be not only an example of the city of Chicago development, but it is the reflection of the whole humanity.

Thus, after visiting the exhibition “Chicago: Crossroads of America” at the Chicago History Museum” I found out more about the history of this great city. In particular, I saw the embodiment of the Chicago development, the Pioneer locomotive and was able to see with my own eyes the device which reflects the era of gangsters and jazz, a device for making alcohol. To my mind, such comprehensive and exciting insight made me understand some historic events better which only proves that exhibitions made the visitors feel the necessary atmosphere and plunge into some era becoming a part of it.

Works Cited

Hudson, Harper. Chicago, a History and Forecast. Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2009.

Lewis, Lloyd. Chicago – The History of Its Reputation. New York: READ BOOKS, 2007.

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