The "International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures, and Products of the Soil and Mine, in the city of Philadelphia" was opened on the 10th day of May in the year 1876. As it was more commonly known, the "Centennial Exposition" was America's first successful World's Fair. The fair celebrated the one hundred year anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and America's start as a sovereign nation. It was at the Centennial Fair that Americans were given a chance to display their knowledge and power in the growing industrialized world.
Long gone were the days of single-structure exhibitions. The Philadelphia organizers peppered Fairmont Park with exhibition buildings and attractions, giving visitors much to look at. At the fair the United States sought to establish itself among the major countries of the world. The major buildings of the fair: Memorial Hall, the Main Building, Machinery Hall, Horticultural Hall, the Women's Pavilion and several national and state pavilions provided a suitable architectural framework for the exhibited materials. The most popular of these buildings was Machinery Hall, built to house the country's technological wonders of the past century (Snyder).
Machinery Hall, "four times the space of St. Peter's" in Rome (Bruce, 150) covered an area of 558,440 square feet (including its annex). Fairmont Park was at the time the "largest and finest urban park in America" (Mass, 16). After selecting the site for the fair, the Centennial Commission held a competition for the design of the exhibition buildings offering awards to the top ten entries. The first prize was given to Collins & Autenrieth of Philadelphia whose design estimated construction ...
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...usiasts to see what it was like to visit the fair first hand. Though these images are not always completely historically correct, they serve as an excellent tool for learning about the fairs.
Bruce, Edward C. The Century: Its Fruits and its Festival. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1877.
Maass, John. The glorious enterprise: the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 and H. J. Schwarzmann, architect-in-chief / John Maass. New York. American Life Foundation. 1973.
Snyder, Iris. (February 2000) "The Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia, 1876" University of Delaware, Special Collections Department http://www.lib.udel.edu/ud/spec/exhibits/fairs/cent.htm(25 February, 2001).
Trout, Silas E. The Story of the Centennial of 1876. Lancaster, 1929.
ARCH SPCEXP T825.B1T7
Westcott, Thompson. A Centennial Portfolio. Philadelphia, T. Hunter, 1876.
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