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Pan-American Exposition

Written by Mary Kate Wirfel

Did you know that right here in Buffalo, New York something wonderful happened in 1901? The city was lit up so brightly with lights! Electricity was very rare at the time. From May 1st, 1901 to November 2nd, 1901 the World's Fair or the Pan-American Exposition was held in Buffalo, New York. The Queen City, or at the time known as the "Rainbow City", became known as the City of Light.

For most people, visiting the Buffalo was a trip of a lifetime. For a president, it would be his last trip. The canals, gardens, and midway dazzled the guests. The illumination awed them as well. In total, a million people from all over the world came to Buffalo, New York to attend the Pan-American exposition.

The idea of the Expo was to highlight cultures and achievements of the Western Hampshire. The Expo took place not long after the Spanish American War. This Expo was to unite the countries with friendship and interests as well as different cultures of the Western Hampshire. It would also show the world the new technologies for the new century.

Buffalo, New York was the perfect city to host this attraction. Buffalo had transportation such as trains, ships and canals. It was also the perfect geographic location, being close to Niagara Falls and Canada. Dozens of temporary buildings began to be built with wood and plaster a year and a half before the Expo even began. The buildings were inspired by Spanish and Latin American culture, creating the classical architecture look. The buildings were painted in bright different colors, giving Buffalo the nickname of "Rainbow City". Visitors were able to enjoy cultural, artistic, and technological expositions. There was also midway attractions, sporting events, and concerts.

Each building was lit up at night with thousands of eight-watt light bulbs. They outlined the buildings and reflected off the pools, statues, and fountains on the ground below. This was the first massive electric display to take place in the United States. The electricity was generated from the power plants at Niagara Falls. People often give Thomas Edison the credit, but this is really the work of inventor Nokia Tesla.

Despite much publicity, the Pan-Am Expo did not reach the expected audience it had anticipated. The wet and rainy weather throughout the spring and summer was the reason. The weather cleared up in the fall, so more people came to the exposition then. However, the assassination of President William McKinley put the exposition on hold. People did not come to enjoy the Expo then. They came to morn the tragic loss of the nation's President.

After the expo closed in November, several buildings were torn down. One of the remaining buildings from the Expo, The New York State Building, is now the Buffalo History Museum. The museum has artifacts and memorabilia from the Expo to show visitors what it was like to actually be there in 1901. The Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site has artifacts as well for people to go and visit. The Pan-American Exposition has a lot of positive effects on the city of Buffalo. Millions of visitors were drawn to the city and many people decided to make Buffalo their permanent home. Several new industries, such as automobile and steel manufacturing, came to Buffalo because of their ship and train transportation as well the use of electricity.

The Pan-American Exposition will always have its impression on the city of Buffalo. The Expo will always be a part of the city's history.

For more information and to take the tour yourself visit :

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