Wednesday, April 23, 2008

STEREOVIEW - Chicago 1893 "knickers"

Some believe that the first gondolas in America arrived in 1893 for the Columbian Exposition in Chicago . These were canopied and well dressed gondolas, often with two gondoliers per boat. According to photographs, the gondoliers would row in suits or more traditional attire, which at the time meant knickers and garments you might see in the Regata Storica on some of the parade boats. The 1893 Expo in Chicago was the first in a series of expos and world’s fairs to feature gondolas and their gondoliers from Venice, Italy. Many of the later expos hired gondoliers who were already stateside, but some of the folks who ran the earlier expos, brought the gondoliers and their boats over from Venice. It's pretty safe to assume that the gondolas in these images were shipped out specifically for the function.
Take a good look at the costumes on the guys rowing this gondola. The knickers, the hats, and the coats are right out of a Shakespeare play. Perhaps the Merchant of Venice.

In the upper left-hand corner of the image, you can see the famous Illinois Building - one of the multitude of world's fair buildings that no longer exist, but were captured forever in some of the earliest photographs we have.

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