01/07/2022

1901, Buffalo US – Pan-American Exposition

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1901 Buffalo

Name:Pan-American Exposition
Dates:1 May – 2 Nov 1901
Days:184 days
Venue:Delaware Park – 350 acres
Theme:Focused on north and south America
Exhibitors:19 nations and colonies
Awards:No data
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

1901 Siteplan

It was built instead in Delaware Park close to where Lake Erie becomes the Niagara river. Buffalo as a venue offered better connections.


Central Tower

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.

Machinery Building

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,

Palace of Fountains

There was a mile-long Grand Canal and Esplanade, there was a Triumphal Bridge and a Palace of Fountains.

Coins celebrating 1901 Buffalo event

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),

1901 Buffalo Towers

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.

Buffalo visitor ticket

The exposition attracted 8,120.048 entries that included 5,306,859 in paid attendance.

Ethnology area

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…

McKinley’s speech

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.

McKinley entering the Temple of Music
his last picture

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.

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