Tower of Water and Light, Century of Progress Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, Perspective

A work made of graphite on tracing paper.

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  • A work made of graphite on tracing paper.

Date:

c. 1929

Artist:

Voorhees, Gmelin and Walker (American, 1926-1939)
Ralph Thomas Walker (American, 1889-1973)

About this artwork

Beginning in 1929, the planning commission of the Century of Progress Exposition worked on developing a scheme for the fairgrounds, themes for major buildings, and a centerpiece of inspirational proportions. New York architect Ralph Walker, a member of the commission, proposed a Tower of Light and Water, which was a soaring skyscraper-scale sculpture set in a lagoon. Cascading water and the lavish use of artificial light were to add even more drama to the giant structure.
The Depression forced the commission to scale back its plans. A combination of financial doubts (the tower provided minimal rentable space) and technical uncertainties about the complex water feats forced the proposal’s demise. A structure called the Skyride was built in its place as the centerpiece of the Century of Progress. Visitors could ride the aerial gondola between the main fair ground and the Island, or climb one of the 600-ft. towers and have a spectacular view of the city.

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Architecture and Design

Artist

Voorhees, Gmelin and Walker (Architect)

Title

Tower of Water and Light, Century of Progress Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, Perspective

Origin

Chicago

Date

1924–1934

Medium

Graphite on tracing paper

Dimensions

61 × 58.1 cm (24 × 22 7/8 in.)

Credit Line

Restricted gift of Edward H. Bennett, Jr., Mrs. Michael Goodkin, Andrew McNally III, Mrs. C. Phillip Miller, Mrs. Roderick Webster, and James M. Wells in honor of Mrs. Eugene A. Davidson

Reference Number

1988.32

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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