Why were so many architects so hesitant to work on the fair in The Devil in the White City?
The Devil in the White Cityis the true story of the World's Fair in Chicago in the late 1800s. The obstacles which Burnham encountered were seemingly endless, and one of those was the fact that architects were hesitant or unwilling to work on the project for several reasons.
First, they were convinced the Fair would not be successful--and no one wanted to be associated with failure on such a grand scale. Second, this project required a huge time commitment which some were unable or unwilling to make (as you know, at least one of them, John Root, even died before the project was completed). Third, they would have had to compromise their designs and their personal styles to the greater good--something most of them were unwilling to do. Pride and arrogance. Fourth, some who were hoping the project failed, for they believed Chicago was not the place the Fair should have been held. More pride and arrogance. Fifth, corruption and greed. Enough said. Finally, there was no real money in it for them, at least comparatively speaking.
This was a time for egos to be put aside for the greater good, and most of the established architects were unable or unwilling to do so.