Some Pan-Am Planning Fun Facts
- Eight million Americans celebrated the dawn of a new century by visiting the Pan- American Exposition in 1901
- The Pan-American Exposition opened its doors on May 1, 1901. Turn-of-the-century Buffalo was prosperous and growing. The exposition’s energy, dazzling presentation, brashness, patriotism, refinement, and hucksterism all captured the spirit of the city.
- After a series of controversies and delays, the Pan-Am’s Board of Directors selected the
Rumsey Farm as the site for the exposition. The farm lay between Elmwood and
Delaware Avenues north of the city’s developed area.
- During the summer and fall of 1899, hundreds of men working with horse-drawn grading and earth-moving equipment attacked the 350-acre site. Planners laid out a design centered around an inverted “T” to lead visitors toward the Electric Tower, promoted as the height of human achievement.
- Less than a year later, the site swarmed with the activity of thousands of workers and craftsmen racing to erect the exposition’s 90 major buildings and make them weather- tight before the onset of winter. As the buildings climbed skywards, other groups of workers excavated canals, laid out roads, erected fountains, and installed thousands of trees and shrubs.
- Buffalo was a growing industrial city with a large immigrant population of Poles, Germans, Italians, recent arrivals from other European countries, and a small community of African Americans. Pan-Am contractors had no trouble hiring large gangs of laborers, carpenters, plasterers, and other skilled craftsmen. In just over 18 months, these workers transformed open farm fields into the “Rainbow City,” an enormous and visually stunning fantasy world.
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