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Hi. I'm Neil Gale. As an Illinois historian and author, I not only love learning about our state’s history, but I also enjoy presenting the stories and photographs that make Illinois' history come alive. In my opinion, the next evolution of a modern day historian is to interact with history by allowing the reader to add to the richness of the articles topic with additional facts, photographs, and personal and professional experiences.

This is where I see social media, such as Facebook, excel. The benefit of 'crowd sourcing' is allowing users to add personal comments, videos, photographs and images, which add to the overall presentation. Thus, enriching the experience for everybody.

In October of 2012, I started a Facebook group called "Living History of Illinois and Chicago." People from around the country and from all walks of life have joined the group to participate in this social history venue, making it one of the most interesting, educational, and entertaining history groups on Facebook. The group hosts Junior and Senior High School (6th-12th grades) history and social studies classes with their teachers, who use the subject matter for lesson plans and in preparation for Illinois' History Day and Chicago's Metro History Fair.

Living History of Illinois and Chicago® Facebook Group
The group is moderated and censored to maintain a PG-13 rating. This keeps the focus on Illinois history and not on nasty people posting hate comments. That is why I have instituted a stringent set of posting, commenting, and behavior policies to keep the group's focus on Illinois history. Our large membership boasts high quality, robust researched posts with lots of pictures and member interactions.

Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal™
"Saving Illinois History, One Story at a Time."
Because of Facebook’s restrictions on each groups number of posted images stored (approx. 5000 per group) the oldest ones are deleted when new posts are made, I found it necessary to find a way of saving Illinois history. I began a blog and titled it the "Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal."

From the first published article on November 6, 2016,
over 2,427,000 Illinois history enthusiasts have visited
the Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal

The Journal presents Illinois history in a friendlier format than Facebook allows. It includes more functionality, such as search functions that works properly, images with captions, and videos that are embedded and play within the article. Being membership free, anybody online can add their comments to any of the over 1,000 articles I've presented in the Journal thus far.

Digital Research Library of Illinois History®
The Digital Research Library of Illinois History began as a resource for students, educators for 19th and 20th century written book, now in PDF searchable format. Today, the Library gets thousands of visitors a month searching for Illinois historic topics. Our special collections department includes defunct amusement parks of Illinois, lost towns of Illinois, Chicago's forgotten neighborhoods, and more than a years worth of reading. Grab one of our comfortable chairs, you'll be here for a while.

The 1893 World's Columbian Exposition Reading Room™
The largest collection of 1893 World's Columbian Exposition antique searchable PDF books, documents and research papers online. Included are details of special days and special attractions at the Fair, and, not to be missed, 13 amazingly detailed and rendered, first person view [puts YOU at the fair] movie tours of the World's Columbian Exposition.


Have you ever wished you could see the original 1893 World's Fair Ferris wheel in motion? On film? Well, your wish has come true! At the bottom of this page is a one minute film from 1896 of the original Ferris wheel running at Ferris Wheel Park in Chicago. It was filmed by Auguste & Louis Lumière and titled: "Grande Roue" (translation: "Big Wheel").

Before you leave the Library, stop in the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition Reading Room, where we have the best super-collection of 1893 World's Fair searchable (in PDF) antique books, documents and research papers that you'll find on the Web.

Would you like to take a virtual 3D tour through 13 different areas of the fair? Yes? Then click --> Video Tours.

Living History of Illinois Gazette™ 
The FREE daily statewide newspaper. Headline delivered directly to your inbox with the link to the newspaper's full edition. No advertisments.
Illinois History Store®
I've personally created unique designs and recreated vintage logo products and printe them on hundreds of products including dozens of styles of shirts and clothing with lots of colors to choose from. Lots of mug styles, glasses and drinkware, a variety of keychains, home and office accessories and so much more. You'll get lost in all the memories that flood your mind with the places, the tastes, the sounds, etc.. You'll leave with a unique souvenir or two.
Chicago Postcard Museum
The Chicago Postcard Museum is a privately endowed, independent organization devoted to collecting and presenting Chicago history through postcard imagery and the correspondence sent to others. The Museum displays a small portion of my personal collection of rare, antique, vintage and contemporary Chicago postcards.

MY BOOK: The Midway Plaisance at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago
For one brief summer in the 1890s, it was the greatest attraction in Chicago, in all America, in fact, more visited and talked about than the world's fair it adjoined. Here, amidst Muslim mosques and Chinese pagodas, European castles and South Sea island huts, straw-hatted Americans came by the thousands to see Bedouin warriors, Egyptian belly dancers, lions that rode horseback and roller-skating bears. Over it all loomed the first giant Ferris wheel, taller than all but one downtown Chicago skyscraper, but only by a few feet.

I write about the Midway Plaisance from the entertainment aspect, as it is considered the birth of amusement parks in America. This was where Americans first "turned out for an unrestrained good time." Here, the Victorian age of amusements ended and our modern age began. For the next hundred years, Chicago would help lead this revolution in American popular culture – the revolution that created the modern amusement park – a revolution that began here, on the Midway Plaisance, that summer of 1893.

After the World's Fair closed on November 1, 1893 the Wheel's inventor, George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., found a new site for his observation wheel in 1895. "Ferris Wheel Park" was located on Chicago's North Side, at 1288 North Clark Street.

Read more about Ferris Wheel Park's history in my book "The Midway Plaisance at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago," presented with some rare photographs.

The Ferris wheel running at "Ferris Wheel Park," 1288 North Clark Street, Chicago.
Auguste & Louis Lumière: Chicago 1896. "Grande Roue" (translation: "Big Wheel")
[NOTE: The speed of the Ferris wheel in this 53 second film is accurate, as is the pace of people walking.]

Would you like to learn more about the Ferris wheel's mechanics, dimensions, speed, passenger capacity and more? Read my article: "The 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition Observation (Ferris) Wheel."

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