|Houdini (right) in Chicago|
However, in the Kalush Biography, he has a rather detailed account of Houdini working as a Hindu Fakir on the midway and working as a snake charmer and presenting the sword basket. Is it possible that Houdini was doing both the Hindu act & the Brothers Houdini act during the stay at the Worlds Fair?
I do believe the top photo is from the 1893 Chicago's Columbian Exposition.
The lower half of the photo, which I cropped out has several things written on it but they are barely readable. I think the name Houdini is on there but the only letters that can be seen are "HOUDI" the other letter possibly smeared away over time. There is another word below it which I cannot make out. At the bottom, it says "ago. i u". However, after staring at it for a long time I realized it actually says "Chicago, ILL" and there is a date next to it which looks like '93' but then again, it's so faint it could be something entirely different. The location and the age of Houdini in the photo does point to it be the Chicago World's Fair.
Later in life Houdini worked with Sol Bloom, the organizer for the Midway Plaisance at the World's Fair. Bloom would go on to become a U.S. Sentator and helped Houdini draft the Anti-Spiritualist Legislation for which Houdini testified before Congress. Bloom, according to the Kalush biography had a background in magic as well as other theatrical endeavors and this is possibly how Houdini got his act at the Chicago's World Fair. My guess is that he took on as many jobs as possible during his month long stay at the Fair in order to make an impression and make money. So it's possible that the Houdini Brothers did the Metamorphosis, and a Flea Circus presentation and even the Hindu Fakir act.
The Chicago World's Fair, also known as the World's Columbian Exposition was held to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of Christopher Columbus discovering America. The Exposition itself was located in Jackson Park, Washington Park and in between, connecting the two was the Midway Plaisance . This mile long stretch of park was the amusements area for the World Expo. This is where the term 'Midway' comes from. The most popular attraction to come out of the 1893 Expo was the very first Ferris Wheel. The Midway Plaisance today is part of the grounds of the University of Chicago.
|The Midway as it appeared in 1893|
|The Midway as it appears today.|