The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Ooze and Oz

By Margaret Hicks in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 16, 2006 2:45PM

Hey! Guess what?! No one burned or banned any books last night (as far as we know). Way to go! Pat yourselves on the back Chicago, you deserve it.

Speaking of pats on the back, let us take you back, ladies and gents, to the year 1893, when Chicago does the unthinkable. When amidst grime, smoke, mud, and sinking horses; Chicago nabs the worlds highest honor from underneath the snooty noses of New York and Paris. The year when Chicago presents its “White City”, just blocks away from its smoggy, crime-ridden, black one.

Young men and women of all types roam the streets, the fair and its Beaux-Arts architecture swirling in their heads, influencing their work in later years. Men like Walt Disney, who’s father worked on buildings at the fair, men like Milton Hershey, who saw the way the Germans made their chocolate, and decided to do it their way, and a man named L. Frank Baum, who would later model his “Emerald City” after the white one before his eyes.

Baum.jpgBaum moved here in 1891 after trying to start a newspaper in South Dakota. He worked on the “Evening Post” and also as a traveling salesman, gathering stories to tell his kids when he got home. He wanted to write a story that didn’t scare children, and in 1900, with the help of William Wallace Denslow (his illustrator, who also saw the “White City”), wrote “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”

If you’re interested in more information on L. Frank Baum, please to check out Angelica Carpenter, author of “L. Frank Baum: Royal Historian of Oz” and President of The International Wizard of Oz Club. And if you're really in the mood, head on over to Oz Park, and click your heels a couple of times for us.

Angelica Carpenter will be at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton St.,Sat., June 16th, at 11:00AM.