Chicago, in its first century, was one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Within the span of forty years, its population grew from slightly under 30,000 to over 1 million by 1890. In the next forty years the population tripled to over 3 million. By the close of the 19th century, Chicago was the fifth largest city in the world -- and the largest of the cities that didn't exist at the dawn of the century.
After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed a third of the city, including the entire central business district, Chicago experienced rapid rebuilding and growth. During Chicago's rebuilding period, the first skyscraper was constructed in 1885 using steel-skeleton construction. In 1893, Chicago hosted the World's Columbian Exposition on former marshland at the present location of Jackson Park. The Exposition drew 27.5 million visitors, and is considered among the most influential world's fairs in history. The University of Chicago had been founded one year earlier in 1892 on the same location. The term "midway" for a fair or carnival referred originally to the Midway Plaisance, a strip of park land that still runs through the University of Chicago campus and connects Washington and Jackson Parks.