The chicago world's fairs and transportation innovation

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, world's fairs and expositions were major events celebrated in the host city and around the world. If you could not attend, you could share in the experience through newspapers, magazines, movie clips, and television. World's fairs date back to the mid-1850s and early fairs focused on trade and were famous for displays of technological inventions and advancements. One of the popular themes was transportation. The first world's fair was held in London, England, in 1851 and since that time over 100 world's fairs have been held in more than 20 countries. There have been two world's fairs in Chicago - 1893 and 1933-1934. This paper presents the history of world's fairs and focuses on the transportation innovations at the two Chicago World's Fairs with a special look at the first moving sidewalk at the 1893 Fair and the elevated tramway, the Sky Ride, at the 1933-1934 Fair.

Publication Title

Automated People Movers and Automated Transit Systems 2020: Automated Transit for Smart Mobility - Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Automated People Movers and Automated Transit Systems