Thursday, June 21, 2012

Century of Progress Exposition Midway Rides, 1933

The Century of Progress Exposition was a World's Fair held in Chicago, Illinois in 1933 and 1934. The first image above is a postcard showing a portion of the Midway amusement area looking south. The steel Cyclone Roller Coaster can be seen on the left side of the picture.

The back of the postcard has this glowing description:
What thrills await the visitor on the Midway! If you have been places and seen things, you'll find that the Midway starts where you left off. Here are bizarre and startling entertainment features. Attractions unheard of to satisfy the thrill seeker. Historic pageants, military maneuvers, sporting events, thrilling masses of color, lighting effects and music. Everything designed to outdo anything ever done before.
I collect Century of Progress postcards and also some of the guides, picture books, and World's Fair Weekly magazines published during the fair. The article Plenty of Fun describes the main midway rides. This article is from the World's Fair Weekly.

The rest of the images in this post are from a book The Official Pictures of A Century Progress Exposition Chicago 1933 published by The Reuben H. Donnelley Corporation. The photographs are by Kaufmann & Fabry Co., official photographers.

The first photo is another view of the midway looking south. The Lindy Loop and the Bozo are shown on the right side of the picture. The Lindy Loop had eight cars holding four passengers each set in a half-moon track arrangement. The cars rocked and rode on an undulating track. The Bozo was a long covered ride resembling a fantastic animal.

The remaining photos show close-up views of some of the other rides.

The Whirlplane had twelve steel arms holding a reproduction of an aeroplane car at the end of each arm, holding two passengers. The plane rested on the ground when it was unloaded. When loaded, it rose like a plane to a height of 15 feet while the base of the ride was revolving.

The Bozo was composed of thirty connected cars holding three passengers each. It was equipped with a head and a tail like an enormous animal. It was more than 200 feet long and could attain a speed of over 50 miles an undulating track. The Bozo roared, had sparks shooting from its nostrils, and blinking eyes.

The Flying Turns was a gravity ride without rails. It had a train of five cars holding two passengers each. The cars were hoisted up to 50 feet and then coasted down a banked half-barrel arrangement.

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  1. That Bozo ride is rather intimidating. I just love the name "Century of Progress" -- what a grand vision of all that has been accomplished and is possible.

  2. It still looks super modern to me all these years later. Wish I could have gone...

  3. ARGHHHHH!!!! The Bozo looks proper scary!!!

  4. Oh I think I would have enjoyed the an onlooker!

  5. What neat rides! That last one looks kind of dangerous though it is the simplest of all. Thank you for sharing these; I guess that these expositions must have been a common thing back then. I wonder how much they dismantled after the year was over and how much they kept?

    Kathy M.

  6. I never had the stomach for fairground rides. These look as horrendous as the more modern ones.

  7. As a kid I used to fool myself that I liked these kind of rides. No I just look on in horror as the kids spin through the air upside down.

  8. Quite a change in the roller coasters of today however. I have never ridden one of the modern ones. I remember one ride called "The Tilt-a-whirl" the cars would spin as the entire ride dipped from side to side. Woo Hoo.

  9. Love the color postcard. World Fairs are amazing. Wish we still had them

  10. Super post - I really liked the pictures of the World's Fair and the rides. The Bozo ride intrigues me and while I would have ridden it as a teenager, you couldn't get me on it now! I'd stick with the Whirlplane.

  11. I was born in Chicago but a little too late to attend this fun exposition. Looks like I missed a pretty good time.

  12. I am scared of heights but love the exhilaration of rides. I haven't been game to try the Giant Drop at Dreamworld though.

    I am surprised to see such modern type rides in your postcards from the past. The Bozo impressed me the most too.

  13. Breathtaking rides! The Bozo should be colorized - Green or Red?

  14. Great post! No way would I get on that Flying Turns ride! It looks way too dangerous. Wow!

    And the Bozo ride looks interesting. Where are the people? Inside the monster? So they can't see outside or where they're going? Yikes!

  15. While you'd never see me in the flying turns exactly because they are NO rails, Bozo must have been fun at night though. I remember riding as a kid something called the Troika, and also the Spider. It had to do with centriforce and not so much height as some others. We all get our kicks on different ways, don't we?!


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