The Devil In The White City Analysis

1224 Words5 Pages
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson told the tale of two cities: Chicago’s White City, the gleaming, colossal World’s Columbian Exposition held in 1893 and Chicago’s Black City, the dirty, poverty-ridden, and crime-filled reality of Chicago at the end of the nineteenth century. Larson organized the book through alternating, chronological stories of two men: Daniel Burnham, the chief architect and designer of the World’s Fair, and Henry Howard Holmes, a charming conman and psychotic serial killer. Through these alternating stories, Larson contrasted the two worlds, and thus, highlighted a society on the verge of great social change and the impact of the White City on those changes. Due to the amount of young women who left their hometowns…show more content…
Women came for the “Disneyesque” atmosphere of the White City and fair, but they often found the poverty, competitive job market, and crime of the Black City. The naïve and unprepared women caused legitimate employers to run warnings in the help-wanted sections “…to inform female stenographers…no thoroughly honorable businessman…advertises for a lady stenographer who is a blonde, good-looking, [and] is quite alone in the city…” (Larson, 2003). Meanwhile, Holmes looked for “…transitional women, fresh clean young things free for the first time in history but unsure of what that freedom meant…” (Larson, 2003). Crime, exacerbated by the lack of trained law enforcement, ran rampant in Chicago. “Patrolmen, many of them, were barely competent, appointed solely at the direction of ward bosses. Detectives were few, their resources scarce and minimal...Ordinary vanishings – merited little effort” (Larson, 2003). These conditions in the Black City presented Holmes with the opportunity he needed for his crimes – inexperienced young women traveling alone and the ability to make his secretaries “disappear” due to a severe lack of trained law

More about The Devil In The White City Analysis

Open Document