|Dates:||1 May – 2 Nov 1901|
|Venue:||Delaware Park – 350 acres|
|Theme:||Focused on north and south America|
|Exhibitors:||19 nations and colonies|
|Visitors:||8,120.048 total – 5,306,859 paid attendance |
– tickets 50c adult, 25c child
|Legacy:||Costs of $7.1m – with a$578,000 (£120k) loss (some sources say -£3m)|
John M Brinker, a Buffalo railroad speculator, attended the 1895 Atlanta event, and conceived of the idea of holding a fair to foster visions of Pan-American harmony in Buffalo. The US Government provided a $500,000 grant as it oo wished to foster btter pan-American relationships. The original show was planned for 1898 on an island near the Niagara Falls but plans changed due to the Spanish-American War.
1901 Buffalo showground
It was built instead in Delaware Park close to where Lake Erie becomes the Niagara river. Buffalo as a venue offered better connections.
Tower at night
The central feature of the show became the 118.6m (389 ft) Electric Tower that was powered by the Niagara Falls hydro-electric scheme, with 44,000 bulbs. A further 200,000 lights around the site were special 8-watt non-dazzle bulbs.
The buildings were brightly coloured, in contrast to Chicago’s White City and referenced as ‘Rainbow City’. The main buildings were gathered around the Plaza and Tower Basin,
There was a mile-long Grand Canal and Esplanade, there was a Triumphal Bridge and a Palace of Fountains.
1901 Buffalo Bronze medal
1901 Buffalo Badge
The other main buildings were the Electricity building, Ethnology, Graphic Arts, Liberal Arts (inc Food), Machinery, Manufacturing, Mines, the Stadium (12,000 seater), the Temple of Music (2,200 seater), Transportation (inc Automobiles),
Countries with pavilions were Canada, Chile, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States. Others exhibiting were Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Peru, Salvador, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The exposition attracted 8,120.048 entries that included 5,306,859 in paid attendance.
The Midway featured 700 Native Americans including Geronimo, alongside a Cuban midget ‘Chiquita’ and an ‘Educated Horse’ – as PT Barnum said ‘nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people’. There was a large statue ‘Dreamland’m aTrip to the Moon ride (later moved to Coney Island), a nine-ton elephant…
Overshadowing the event was the assassination of President William McKinley while he was visiting the show. He gave a formal speech to a 50,000 audience on 5 Sep 1901 and visited a number of foreign pavilions. He was unaware that the American anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, had got quite close, but had not followed through because he feared hould not be guaranteed to hit the President. The next day McKinley was meeting the public at the Temple of Music, he had evolved a method of shaking hands so that he could achieve this with some 45 people/minute. However, when Czolgosz reached the head of the queue he drew a concealed weapon and shot the president twice in the abdomen.
The doctor on duty at the exposition managed to retrieve one of the bullets but failed to locate the second, nobody thought to use the early X-ray machine on show. McKinley died eight days later, succeeded by Theodor Roosevelt. Czolgosz was tried and convicted, going to the electric chair on 29 Oct 1901.
The show closed for two days, it reopened but could never quite recapture the earlier enthusiasm.