By Barbara Emery Moseley
NOTE: This series chronicles the generations of Vernon’s Hunt family, all related to Jonathan Hunt of “Governor Hunt Road” fame. If you’ve missed any installments in this series, you can catch up here!
When Congress chose Chicago as the Columbian Exposition site over other contenders, including New York, St. Louis, and Philadelphia, the Chicago Committee received a telegram from Chauncey Depew. He was U.S. Congressman from New York, lawyer for the Vanderbilts, president of the New York Central Railroad, and one of the most witty and celebrated speakers of the day. The message, part of a letter also sent to the Chicago Tribune, warned: “Chicago is like the man who marries a woman with a ready-made family of twelve; the trouble has just begun.” His comment proved to have hit the nail on the head.
Burnham, who had convinced Richard Morris Hunt to be chief architect of the Exposition, and Frederick Law Olmsted its landscape designer, had expected to rely on his charismatic business partner, John Root, for help on the massive project. However, Root died of pneumonia just as preparation of the site was to begin. At least, the two, along with Hunt, had figured out how to combat the quicksand of Jackson Park, making it suitable for the erection of massive buildings.