Rand McNally’s Standard Guide Map of the World’s Columbian Exposition (1893)

Maps of the World’s Columbian Exposition served many functions, ranging from facilitating the construction and promotion of the event to advertising specific displays, guiding tourists, and furnishing mementos. The Old Times Distillery distributed this vest-pocket map to draw visitors to their exhibit. The map features an image of the Old Times’ miniature distillery exhibit, which was tucked in an out-of-the-way location in the southeastern corner of the fairgrounds. The cardboard cover of the map describes another promotional gimmick, a contest that invited visitors to register their estimates of the number of admission tickets that would be sold during the run of the fair. The best guesser was to receive "fifteen barrels of Kentucky's famous Old Times Sour Mash Whiskey."

For this guide, Rand McNally & Co. adapted one of its generic mass-produced maps of the fair, overprinting the sheet with the promotional illustration and text supplied by Old Times. Rand, McNally dominated the market for fair maps—and Chicago mapmaking in general—through efficient production, aggressive marketing. As exemplified here, the company was a master of customizing its products to suit the needs of its clients. Many other companies exhibiting at the fair also chose versions of the "Indexed Standard Guide Map of the World's Columbian Exposition.” Rand, McNally's line of innovative, adaptable maps doubled as advertisements for the sponsoring firm and for the exposition itself, all the while leading readers to where they wanted to go.



Burnham, Daniel H. The Final Official Report of the Director of Works of the World's Columbian Exposition. New York: Garland, 1989.

Dillon, Diane. "Mapping Enterprise: Cartography and Commodification at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition." In Nineteenth-Century Geographies: Anglo-American Tactics of Space, ed. Helena Michie and Ronald Thomas. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2003.

Dillon, Diane. “Consuming Maps.” in Maps: Finding Our Place in the World, ed. James R. Akerman and Robert W. Karrow, Jr., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

Indexed Standard Guide Map of the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1893). The Newberry Library, map2F G4104.C6:2W6