empty of future, renew the sign: lucent paradox, ineluctable trace ...


white cities

The first White City was in Chicago, 1893, The World's Columbian Exposition; this was also the first time that an Exhibition included a separate amusement area, which somehow came to take the name given, from the colour of the buildings, to the Exhibition as a whole.

The next was in London, built in 1908 at Wood Lane near Shepherd's Bush, for an Anglo-French Exhibition. The stadium for the 1908 Olympic Games was included in the complex. Again, the name seems to have been adopted from the colour of the buildings, and it isn't clear if it was also a memory of the Chicago version. Some contemporary postcards of the London avatar:

Sydney's White City, of which there are a couple of photographs here, was just for fun, an entertainment precinct, a Luna Park. As was often the case, when it was closed, bits and pieces of it were dismantled and re-used in Amusement Parks elsewhere.

There's a Pogue's song of the same name on their 1989 Album Peace & Love; also a book by Pete Townsend of The Who. Haven't read Pete's book, or heard the song, yet, but the lyrics, which appear to refer to a dog track, go like this:


Here a tower shining bright
Once stood gleaming in the night
Where now there's just the rubble
In the hole here the paddies and the frogs
Came to gamble on the dogs
Came to gamble on the dogs not long ago

Oh the torn up ticket stubs
From a hundred thousand mugs
Now washed away with dead dreams in the rain
And the car-parks going up
And they're pulling down the pubs
And its just another bloody rainy day

Oh sweet city of my dreams
Of speed and skill and schemes
Like Atlantis you just disappeared from view
And the hare upon the wire
Has been burnt upon your pyre
Like the black dog that once raced
Out from trap two

It may well be that the White City Stadium, pulled down in 1988 to make way for BBC offices, was once used as a track for racing dogs; or there might have been a White City in Dublin, as there is in, of all places, Soweto.


trusty said...

The White City stadium in London hosted greyhound meetings until September 2004, after which is was demolished to make way for the BBC offices which now occupy the site. The Pogues song makes reference to the demolition.

Martin Edmond said...

thanx, Trusty ... I've listened to the song now, it's too fast for me to hear the words properly, or I'm too old, or something.