The Devil in the White City

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Summary

Part III: In the White City (Chapters 26-31)

Summary Part III: In the White City (Chapters 26-31)

Summary: Chapter 29: Night is the Magician

The Fair represents a modern city’s future. Instead of dirt and smoke, The White City has pure water, electric streetlights, and an efficient sewage system. Many “firsts” occur, including: the first moving pictures on Edison’s Kinetoscope, a long distance telephone, the Tesla Coil, zippers, a dishwasher, Juicy Fruit, Cracker Jack, Shredded Wheat, Aunt Jemima’s Pancakes, and the vertical file, a game-changer for organization.

Visitors slowly walk the Court of Honor with sober faces, as if “under a spell.” In contrast, the Midway is lively, complete with belly dancers in the Street in Cairo. Everyone hammers the guards with questions.

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show is a great success. Cody, the owner, was denied a spot within Jackson Park, so he performs on an adjacent plot of land. He sometimes attracts more people than the Fair, especially on Sundays when the Fair closes. The directors reject a request from Harrison to have one free day for children, but Cody accepts. He pays train fare and provides unlimited ice cream, attracting 15,000 children. The show’s total attendance reaches nearly four million.

By June, most everything has been completed, including the exhibits and landscape. The Court of Honor and its neoclassical design overwhelm people to tears. When Burnham gives tours through the Fair, he enters through the Court of Honor, as he believes it should be seen first. One tour group includes Root’s widow Dora, and she writes to Burnham about both her sadness and wonder at seeing Root’s dreams realized. Only the Ferris wheel remains to be finished.

Nights are particularly special. Electricity lights everything, and it is the first large-scale test of alternating current. Visitors can stroll in lighted safety. Guests and journalists report the wonder of the Fair back to their hometowns.

Summary: Chapter 30: Modus Operandi

Guests begin disappearing from The World’s Fair Hotel. The building smells like chemicals and gas. Friends and family continue to inquire about disappearances, but the police still do not suspect anything, or have too much else to do. Holmes delights in hearing his victims’ panic, but does not kill them face to face. He uses either chloroform, gas leaks, or the soundproof vault. Most of all, Holmes enjoys feeling his exertion of power over his victim’s life.