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The Devil in the White City

  • Study Guide
Summary

Part II: An Awful Fight (Chapters 11-15)

Summary Part II: An Awful Fight (Chapters 11-15)

Summary: Chapter 11: Convocation

On February 24, 1891, the architects present their drawings of the main Fair buildings to the Grounds and Buildings Committee: Hunt’s Administration Building of foremost importance; Post’s Manufactures and Liberal Arts building, the largest every constructed; Adler & Sullivan’s Transportation Building. The committee listens with a “quiet intentness,” and later describes it as “the greatest meeting of artists since the fifteenth century.”

Olmsted realizes that the buildings’ complexities will leave him little time for landscaping once completed. He wants to design around the water and have electric boats and various foreign watercrafts. He plans to arrange flowers “poetically,” with soft glimpses of colors, instead of full flowerbeds.

Burnham worries about the shortened timeline while turmoil slows the Fair. Union workers riot against immigrant workers and demand union wages and hours. The National Commission fights the Exposition Company for financial control, slowing everything.  

Sophia Hayden wins Burnham’s contest to design the Woman’s Building, though she receives only one-tenth of the male architects’ payment. Burnham hires Charles B. Atwood of New York to replace Root as designer.

Summary: Chapter 12: Cuckoldry

Without explanation, Ned’s sister, Gertrude, tells him she must leave Chicago. She refuses to look at Holmes, but Ned does not notice. Ned and Julia’s fights increase. Ned wonders if Julia is having an affair with Holmes. Holmes acts sympathetic and suggests Ned buy life insurance to protect his family. Holmes brings in a man named C. W. Arnold to sell a policy, but Ned refuses.

Holmes offers to sell Ned the drugstore, but neglects to tell him that the store has substantial debts. He only reminds Ned that the sale is final when creditors come knocking. Ned and Julia divorce and Ned moves out, abandoning his interests in the store. After Ned leaves, Holmes loses interest in Julia.