Summary and Analysis Part II: Chapter 25



It's April 1893, and a great amount of work awaits on the fair. More people have been injured and killed in the construction of the fair, and carpenters who are working on the fair are striking. In the midst of all this, Burnham makes a trip to New York City for an event thrown by one of the New York architects. Olmsted, overwhelmed with being behind on all his projects, including the fair, fails to make it to this East Coast event. Instead, he goes to Chicago and continues to work on the fair and its resident challenges. Olmsted sees that progress has been made in Chicago, and his spirits lift temporarily, only to be stifled again by the incessant rain that falls.

Once Burnham gets back to Chicago, other unions threaten to join the carpenters in their fight for minimum wage and other benefits. Burnham negotiates with these men, gives them minimum wage, and makes other concessions. Burnham's longing for his wife increases, as indicated by a series of letters to her.

Meanwhile, Prendergast is spotted walking into a tree at a nearby park.

As the rain persists, Burnham and Olmsted carry on their fighting about final preparations for Opening Day, May 2, 1893. Olmsted continues to battle his depression, worsened by the rainy weather. By the end of the chapter, the night before opening day arrives. The fairgrounds are still littered with debris and trash, and a new World's Fair Hotel announces its opening.


Chapter 25 creates a sense of urgency, with many emotions and dramas in play: Burnham's optimism, Olmsted's depression, Prendergast's insanity. Larson wants the reader to experience the suspense and tension leading up to the next part of the novel and the opening of the fair.

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