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I'm Neil Gale. As an Author and Illinois Historian, I not only enjoy 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 others to add to the richness of the article presentations with additional facts, photographs, personal and family experiences.

This is where social media, such as a Facebook group, excels by allowing feedback, comments, videos, photographs and images to be added to the presentation, enriching the experience of all readers.

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

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The group is moderated and censored for the sake of our student body, but all members enjoy the focus on Illinois history without Internet trolls and people posting or commenting off-color statements. We have a stringent set of published posting and commenting policies to keep the groups focus on Illinois history, and to remove members who don't follow rules or care about other members. Our large membership boasts high quality, robust researched posts with lots of pictures and member interactions.

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The Digital Research Library of Illinois History® is sanctioned by and linked from the official Chicago Metro History Fair website, the Illinois History Day website and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) website as a resource for students, educators and the general public. Special collections include defunct amusement parks of Illinois, lost towns of Illinois, Chicago's forgotten neighborhoods, and other surprises.
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"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 create a way of ‘Saving Illinois History, One Story at a Time,’ so on November 6, 2016, I started the Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal™. The Journal presents Illinois history in a friendlier format than Facebook allows and has more functionality, such as a search function that works properly, intermingled images and text, and videos that are embedded and play on the page, just to name a few. Being membership free, anybody online can add their comments to the postings in the Journal.
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 special attractions, special days at the Fair, and 13 amazing 3D rendered movie tours of the Fair.
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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.

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.

As a matter of fact, after the World's Fair closed on November 1, 1893 the Wheel's inventor, George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., found a new site for the observation wheel on Chicago's North Side, at 1288 North Clark Street in 1895.

Quite a few photographs of this amusement park are in this book.

The Ferris wheel running at Ferris Wheel Park, 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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