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Worlds Fairs: Expo 33 (Chicago, USA)

Last modified: 2023-11-25 by zachary harden
Keywords: expo 33 | chicago |
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World's Fair 33 Flag image by António Martins, 3 December 2001 

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A Century of Progress International Exposition was a World's Fair registered under the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), which was held in Chicago, as The Chicago World's Fair, from 1933 to 1934 to celebrate the city's centennial.


The flag is seen here. (Source: It is light blue with a three large sheets curled around and extending flyward off a globe, the date 1933 above, and the name CHICAGO below.
Esteban Rivera, 25 April 2011

Avenue of Flags

At the Chicago World's Fair 1933-34, the visitors entering by the North Entrance, next to the Shedd Aquarium, would see before them the Avenue of Flags, stretching North - South, from the Field Museum, past Soldier Field, all the way to the Hall of Science, with its Carillon Tower. For the duration of the fair this wasn't the Leif Ericson Drive as it was normally named in those days, but rather it was named for the huge flags that lined it on both sides high above the visitors' heads. The flies of the flag may well have been 10 metres above the ground, the trucks could well be 25 metres above it.

There are different views on what the flags looked like, apart from "huge".

The Official guide book of the fair, 1933, shows them as a series of long tapering pennant-like flags. I'm not sure the artwork is a photograph, or from the time of the fair, though.

Regularly, Ebay offers images of the Chicago World's Fair's Avenue of Flags for sale. For example:

  • - The 1933 Official View book:
    Here, the flags are shown as cut to hang straight from an angled staff, with long rectangular splits in them (closed of at the ends), making them partly see-through. Though these gaps remind me of the jags in historical clothing, they seem(ed) to give an impression of "future". This would match the Fair's "A century of progress". As the bus-like car in the picture seems future-vision as well, I would say this image is rather an impression of what the Avenue of Flags was going to look like. (After all, to have an official 1933 view book ready by the time the Fair starts, your artwork will have to be made beforehand.)
Chicagology provides several images as well:
  • The top one shows the flags is different colours, but the photograph has been coloured in. (At the New York World's Fair 1964-65, such coloured flags were indeed used, though.) We see lighter edges, but it's unclear whether these are for real.
  • The other two are interesting as they both are realistic photographs. Note that the first has the flags much darker than the second. I doubt that is caused by the first being southward and the second being northward. The darker, southward ones really do seem to have a lighter edge.
  • The last one is a drawing of the flags being red with a yellow lower flyward edge.
Turning to the Internet once more, I find that looking for images explicitly related to 1933, will give results with these red with yellow flags. Doing the same for 1934, will give you a few hits for green flags:

1934 World's Fair A Century of Progress Exposition Official Pictures in Color., and one for a post card: It might be, though, that's the same case as the official view of 1933: Impression of 1934 before it opened.

Most other non-1933 images happen to be versions of the same photograph coloured-in with blue flags:, or of light-coloured flags in black and white. (There are some images here that show what is probably the entire avenue, for 22 pairs of flags.)

The 1933 flags on the Avenue of Flags have probably been red with a yellow edge. The 1934 flags were probably not really white, but rather had a colour that showed white. I imagine both the shades of green and those of blue would do so, though I have a slight preference for the blue in this case.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 3 April 2019