For whom was the party thrown? Chicago? The United States?

The reason the exposition was so important is because everyone thought that it was going to "fail". The fair ended just as the United States entered an acute depression. People of Chicago who were poor, unemployed, and homeless started to live in the abandoned buildings of the White City. In July 1984, federal soldiers and railroad workers fought at the abandoned White City and a raging fire broke out. The inferno engulfed the entire frame and plaster White City. The city's residents traveled to Jackson Park to watch it. Just as the old frontier Chicago had ended in fire, so did the modern city. Only two Columbian Exposition buildings still stand today: the former Fine Arts Palace, which today is the Museum of Science and Industry, and the present day Art Institute. The Midway Plaisance remains as well, linking Jackson Park and Washington Park while fronting the University of Chicago. Although not much remains from the 1893 fair, its meaning to a growing city and a nation rising to prominense was profound.