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eskarp

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About eskarp

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  1. I would love it if you could scan a copy of that report or, alternately, supply me with the finding aids from the Library of Congress. The Auditorium Hotel probably died due to it's lack of bathrooms though I'm sure the amoebic dysterery outbreak didn't help. The owners refurbished it for the '33 fair but they couldn't manage to get every room its own bath. In 1892, that was not a problem but by 1933 the public expected more services. The Congress Hotel (now the Congress Plaza) is still in business. In fact, it makes a point of describing itself as "historic." Naturally enough, they don't mention dysentery. The two hotels were, at the time of the '33 fair, still connected by a tunnel under the Congress Parkway. Thank you so much for the information. Sharon Karpinski, eskarp@unm.edu or eskarp@comcast.net
  2. When I was a teenager in the early 1960s, there were still a couple of standing architectural artifacts from the Fair. These were buildings that were the original temporary constructions, over sixty years later! One was the "Fret Shop," a storefront on what had been the Midway. The Fret Shop was a hangout for University of Chicago folkies. They sold banjo spare parts, kaypos, strings, instruments, etc. The front room was the store, the back room was the tiny home of the proprietor, which contained a sink, gas stove from the 1920s (a genuine "QuickMeal," with a picture of a running chicken on the oven door), a toilet in a partitioned-off space, and truly frightening antique wiring hanging from the ceiling. The floor of the back room sank between six inches and a foot in one corner. I remember marveling that the place was standing because it appeared to be made of papier mache, or at least the ornamentation was. The entire block got urban renewed in either '6l or '62 before anybody thought to take photos.
  3. H H Holmes "real" name was Herman W. Mudgett, which I've always considered a wonderfully plain moniker for a serial killer.
  4. I am trying to locate information about the amoebic dysentery epidemic that occurred in Chicago, primarily affecting fairgoers, in 1933. The Chicago Dept.of Public Health eventually traced the cause to the incorrectly installed and corroded plumbing system which the old Auditorium Hotel and the Congress Hotel (formerly the "Auditorium Annex") shared. This epidemic was no small problem. 1,200 people, most of them from out of town, contracted the disease. Later estimates indicate that around 100 people died. That's as many people as Herman W. Mudgett, the "Devil in the White City" dispatched in '93. The Public Health Department accomplished the almost impossible in getting a handle on the outbreak because most of the people that got sick became ill after they returned to their homes in other cities and states. Furthermore, many of the victims didn't actually stay at the Congress but only attended banquets there. Several of the people that died had been misdiagnosed with appendicitis and operated upon, which killed them. Texas Guinan, the Prohibition-era "hostess" met her end that way after she contracted the disease at the hotel. In the 1930s, amoebic dysentery was unfamiliar to most US physicians, since it was primarily regarded as a disease of the tropics. After WWII, doctors that treated GIs returning from the Pacific became far more familiar with the illness, discovering that it was not so rare in the US after all. Despite the death toll, I can locate almost no information about this epidemic. My mother, who attended the fair as a teenager, read about the disease at the time and became fascinated. She later became a physician working at one time for the U. of I. health department. She told me the bones of the story years ago. I've located a few contemporary references and one citation in the Plumbers' Union Archive (!!!) but otherwise almost no new information. Anybody out there know more OR can you point me toward useful references? I intend to go to Chicago next summer to ransack libraries but I'd appreciate a head start. Thanks. Sharon Karpinski MA, History.
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