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The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America Introduction Quotes

21 of the best book quotes from The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America Introduction
  1. #1
    “One of the delights of the fair was never knowing who might turn up beside you.”
  2. #2
    “Though Chicago was rapidly achieving recognition as an industrial and mercantile dynamo, its leading men felt keenly the slander from New York that their city had few cultural assets.”
  3. #3
    “The Chicago Times-Herald wrote of Holmes, ‘He is a prodigy of wickedness, a human demon, a being so unthinkable that no novelist would dare to invent such a character.‘”
  4. #4
    “Better to have it vanish suddenly, in a blaze of glory, than fall into gradual disrepair and dilapidation. There is no more melancholy spectacle than a festal hall, the morning after the banquet, when the guests have departed and the lights are extinguished.”
  5. #5
    “Do you realize this has been the greatest meeting of artists since the fifteenth century?”
  6. #6
    “With demand outpacing supply, doctors established a custom of graciously and discreetly accepting any offered cadaver.”
  7. #7
    “I was born with the devil in me,” [Holmes] wrote. “I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing.”
  1. #8
    “That Prendergast was a troubled young man was clear; that he might be dangerous seemed impossible. To anyone who met him, he appeared to be just another poor soul crushed by the din and filth of Chicago.”
  2. #9
    “As best anyone could tell, the owner also was a forgiving soul. [Holmes] did not seem at all concerned when now and then a guest checked out without advance notice, leaving her bills unpaid. That he often smelled vaguely of chemicals — that in fact the building as a whole often had a medicinal odor — bothered no one. He was, after all, a physician, and his building had a pharmacy on the ground floor.”
  3. #10
    “It was a game for Holmes, Geyer realized. He possessed them all and reveled in his possession.”
  4. #11
    “Holmes was warm and charming and talkative and touched them with a familiarity that, while perhaps offensive back home, somehow seemed all right in this new world of Chicago—just another aspect of the great adventure on which these women had embarked. And what good was an adventure if it did not feel a little dangerous?”
  5. #12
    “The burden of restoring the nation’s pride and prominence in the wake of the Paris exposition had fallen upon Chicago.”
  6. #13
    “But the fair did more than simply stoke pride. It gave Chicago a light to hold against the gathering dark of economic calamity.”
  7. #14
    “It seems cruel, cruel, to give us such a vision; to let us dream and drift through heaven for six months, and then to take it out of our lives.”

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  1. #15
    “To build it Burnham had confronted a legion of obstacles, any of which could have—should have—killed it long before Opening Day.”
  2. #16
    “Young women drawn to Chicago by the fair and by the prospect of living on their own had disappeared, last seen at the killer’s block-long mansion, a parody of everything architects held dear.”
  3. #17
    “There would be miracles at the fair—the chocolate Venus de Milo would not melt, the 22,000 pound cheese in the Wisconsin Pavilion would not mold—but the greatest miracle was the transformation of the grounds during the long soggy night that had preceded Cleveland’s arrival.”
  4. #18
    “The White City had drawn men and protected them; the Black City now welcomed them back, on the eve of winter, with filth, starvation, and violence.”
  5. #19
    “I am convinced that since my imprisonment I have changed woefully and gruesomely from what I was formerly in feature and figure…My head and face are gradually assuming an elongated shape. I believe fully that I am growing to resemble the devil—that the similitude is almost completed.”
  6. #21
    “The fair taught men and women steeped only in the necessary to see that cities did not have to be dark, soiled, unsafe bastions of the strictly pragmatic. They could also be beautiful.”
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