The Pan-American Exposition
was a World’s Fair held in Buffalo, New York,United States, from May 1 through November 2, 1901. The fair occupied 350 acres (1.4 km2) of land on the western edge of what is present day Delaware Park, extending from Delaware Ave. to Elmwood Ave and northward to Great Arrow Ave.
The event was organized by the Pan-American Exposition Company, formed in 1897. Cayuga Island was initially chosen as the place to hold the Exposition because of the island’s proximity to Niagara Falls, which was a huge tourist attraction. But when the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, plans were put on hold. After the war, there was a heated competition between Buffalo andNiagara Falls over the location. Buffalo won for two main reasons. First, Buffalo had a much larger population — with roughly 350,000 people, it was the eighth-largest city in the United States. Second, Buffalo had better railroad connections — the city was within a day’s journey by rail for over 40 million people. In July 1898, Congress pledged $500,000 for the Exposition to be held at Buffalo. The “Pan American” theme was carried throughout the event with the slogan “commercial well being and good understanding among the American Republics.” Nikola Teslahad recently invented a three-phase system of alternating current power transmission for distant transfer of electricity. This allowed designers to light the Exposition in Buffalo using power generated 25 miles (40 km) away at Niagara Falls.
The exposition is most remembered because U.S. President William McKinley was assassinated by an anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, at the Temple of Music on September 6, 1901; the President died 8 days later. McKinley had given an address at the exposition the previous day; his speech included the following words:
Expositions are the timekeepers of progress. They record the world’s advancements. They stimulate the energy, enterprise, and intellect of the people, and quicken human genius. They go into the home. They broaden and brighten the daily life of the people. They open mighty storehouses of information to the student….
The newly-developed X-ray machine was displayed at the fair, but doctors were reluctant to use it on McKinley to search for the bullet because they did not know what side effects it may have had on him. Also, ironically, the operating room at the exposition’s emergency hospital did not have any electric lighting, even though the exteriors of many of the buildings were covered with thousands of light bulbs. Doctors used a pan to reflect sunlight onto the operating table as they treated McKinley’s wounds.