At the time of the World�s Columbian Exposition of 1893, the United States was fast becoming the world�s leading economy. Chicago, the host city, had grown in less than half a century from a village to the country�s second-largest metropolis. During this, the Gilded Age, the world�s most extensive railroad and steamship networks poured ceaselessly through Chicago, carrying the raw goods and finished products of America�s great age of invention and industrial expansion. The Fair was the largest ever at the time, with 65,000 exhibitors and millions of visitors. It has been called the �Blueprint of the American Future� and marked the beginning of the national economy and consumer culture.