Chicago Mayor Approves City-Wide Use of Fireworks on the 4th of July 1893

Chicago Mayor Approves City-Wide Use of Fireworks on the 4th of July 1893
Chicago Mayor Carter Harrison Sr. 1825 - 1893

It was four days before the 4th of July celebration by Chicagoans in the year 1893.  The eyes of the world were on Chicago because it was in this year that Chicago was host to the World’s Columbian Exposition and it was in full swing in Jackson Park and along the Midway Plaisance.  The White City, as it quickly became known was proof that Chicago had risen like a phoenix from the ashes of 1871 to be the host city of the world’s largest and most spectacular world’s fair to date.  The following is the proclamation made by Mayor Carter Harrison Sr. with regard to the proper way Chicago was to celebrate the nation’s 117th Independence Day.  The proclamation was given by the mayor a little less than four months from when he was shot and killed in the doorway of his residence on October 28, 1893 only 2 days before the close of the Exposition by Patrick Eugene Prendergast.

“In this Columbian year we are to celebrate the 117th anniversary of American independence in the presence of visitors of the whole world.  It is appropriate, therefore, that we let them see, hear, and understand the meaning of ‘Fourth of July celebration’.

It is proper that we should make a noise, for we have something to make a noise about:  A great Nation, a great State, and Chicago, the greatest city of its age the world ever saw, with its marvelous growth, wonderful progress, today holding its head above all the cities of the world, and where is being held the most magnificent exhibition of arts, sciences, and industries the nations of the earth ever had the opportunity to look upon, with its palaces rivaling in grandeur the most picturesque features of the Orient, unequaled in architectural beauty and design.

To make noise in heralding these things to the world is appropriate.  Americans have always used fireworks to celebrate the day.  This is eminently a year when Chicago can afford to make a noise, but it should do so in a rational manner, protecting alike life and property and placing no one’s life in jeopardy by reason of a surplus of patriotism.

Under the ordinances of the City of Chicago the Mayor is vested with discretion in regard to allowing the use and display of fireworks in its streets, alleys, and public places.

Now, therefore, I, Carter H. Harrison, Mayor of the City of Chicago, by virtue of the authority vested in me, hereby issue the following proclamation in regard to the use of fireworks July 4, 1893:

The proper use of fireworks will be allowed, including firecrackers, squibs, rockets, Roman candles, torpedoes, serpents, and such other displays as will not endanger life and property when they are properly handled.  These may be used on vacant lots, in and upon the streets and public grounds under the control of the city authorities between 4 o’clock in the morning and 12 midnight July 4th, subject to restrictions as follows:

No firecrackers, fireworks of any character, gunpowder, etc., shall be exploded in any alley, back yard, or confined space on any street.  The use of cannons, guns, revolvers, pistols, or firearms of any description is absolutely prohibited, and any violation of this ordinance will subject the violator to a fine of $10 for each offense.

It is imperative that no fireworks of any kind or description be exploded near or in the vicinity of the Exposition grounds and buildings at Jackson Park, as the combustible nature of the structures and the great value of their contents would make it extremely dangerous to use fireworks in that locality.

The selling or the giving away of any toy pistols and caps to children is absolutely prohibited.  A violation of this ordinance will subject the offender to arrest and imprisonment and a fine of $50 for each offense.  I desire especially to warn parents that toy pistols are often dangerous in the hands of the inexperienced, and should not be placed in the possession of children.

The police of the City of Chicago are especially notified to see to it that this proclamation is enforced.  It is especially desired that the boys shall have a good time on the Fourth of July of this year and that they shall have the opportunity to make all the noise they can, but it is also necessary that they should be careful of themselves and of the property surrounding  them; that they be careful in the use of firecrackers and explosives generally, and that they comply strictly with this proclamation.

Given under my hand and the seal of the City of Chicago, this 30th day of June A.D. 1893.”

Carter H. Harrison, Mayor

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