Scenes from "The Devil In The White City"
by Erik Larson, 2003

Field Museum
Since Erik Larson's book, "The Devil In The White City," was published in 2003, I've received many inquiries about certain buildings or scenes mentioned in the book.  The first question usually is, "Is the Montauk Building the same as the Monadnock Block?"  Unfortunately, no.  The Montauk Building was demolished too early to appear in view cards.

During the time of the 1893 Columbian Exposition, the only  predecessor to the "Penny Postcard" was the souviner album which may have included postcard sized lithographs of Chicago scenes.  By Act of Congress, May 19, 1898, the "Private Mailing Card" was introduced.  An undivided card, the stamp side of the card was strictly for the address, with the front side dedicated to printed scene or greeting (no personal message allowed). 

What we call "View Cards" were not widely used until 1905.   Because of this delay in the common use of view cards, they may only reflect popular scenes of the day....and most scenes from the 1893 Columbian Exposition did not survive long enough to appear in souviner cards.   However, there are some excellent photographic images of the fair.  I've listed some resources farther down on this page.

Including the areas of Englewood, Hyde Park, Washington Park and Jackson Park
Chicago, Illinois

High resolution restored digital images are available for many of these cards
High Resolution Images of Vintage Postcards


"The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, The Dream City":

Digital Archive of American Architecture
1893 Columbian Exposition

"The Devil In The White City" by Erik Larson , published 2003 by Vintage Books, a division of Random House.

Documentary, "The Magic Of The White City"  2005 - narrated by Gene Wilder.

Note:   There are many excellent resources for information on the history of Chicago architecture. Inland Architect is sited often as a source for images and information.  I am not subscribed, but according to its web page, a benefit of being a subscriber is the ability to view archived articles. The Chicago Library and Chicago Historical Society also are sited as sources. 

In my personal library, I have found these resources to be very interesting and helpful:


  • Chicago Landmarks web site (linked from my Chicago Links page)
  •  The Chicago School of Architecture, A History of Commercial and Public Building in the Chicago Area, 1875-1925, by Carl W. Condit, published 1964
  • Louis Sullivan, His Life and Work, by Robert Twombly
  • The Architecture of John Wellborn Root, by Donald Hoffmann
  • Chicago's Famous Buildings, by Arthur Siegel, 1969
  • Burnham of Chicago, by Thomas S. Hines, 1979
  • Chicago Street Guide, published by Rand McNally, 1941
  • Lost Chicago, by David Low, American Legacy Press- 1975   (through the notes of John Hub and David Daruszka)
  • History of the Development of Building Construction in Chicago, by Frank A. Randall, University of Illinois Press  (notes of David Daruszka)
  • The Devil In The White City, by Erik Larson, 2003
  • Chicago, A Personal History of America's Most American City, by Finis Farr, 1973
            ... and, of course,  the postcards themselves!