How to See
the Pan-American Exposition
Mary Bronson Hartt
The vanishing of Chicago's " White City" was the signal for a chorus of wails from millions who had missed it. "Nobody told us," said they. " We did not know how beautiful it was until it was too late."
It would be a thousand pities that the Rainbow City, vanishing a few weeks hence, should leave behind it such another crop of harassing regrets. So, even at this eleventh hour, it is pardonable to repeat what has been said in crescendo ever since the first of May - the Pan-American is industrially too significant, educationally too important, and aesthetically too superb to be passed by. If all the rest were not, if we had only night - the luminous Pan-American night - with skies deepened to vivid Italian blue by the yellow radiance of the incandescent city; lagoons wavering with liquid fire, and tinted walls translucent like onyx under the flood of mellow light - if that were all, it would still be little better than crime to cut oneself off from the sight.
"But," say those whose purses are of the exhaustible kind, "can we afford it?" Bugaboo stories of extortion at the Pan-American have been so widely circulated that it gives careful folk a financial panic just to think of Buffalo. Rumor has it that the way out of the difficulty is to put up at one of the outlying towns near Buffalo, say Lockport or Niagara Falls. There could be no greater mistake. The possible saving of money would be more than offset by the loss of time and freshness in tedious trips on crowded trolleys. Besides it is not necessary. Nothing is easier, to be sure, than to squander a small fortune at the Pan-American; but economy is by no means impossible. Hotels and boarding-houses must be eschewed, however, if economy is your aim, the private home is distinctly the place for that. Literally thousands of such homes are offering rooms at one dollar the night for each guest. Anyone who pays more than that has himself to thank.
A capital way for a party bound for Buffalo is to send ahead one member as a scout to look up accommodations for the rest. If arrangements must be made by mail, the countless rooming bureaus will provide suitable addresses, and the Official Information Bureau, 213 Ellicott Square, will send lists of reliable agencies. As to locality, any comfortable house on the West Side, north of Allen Street, and near a trolley line to the Exposition, would do. Locations "near the grounds " sound better than they are; for almost without exception such houses are too far from the gates to enable an ordinary mortal to walk. The trolley service is so ample and so swift (twenty minutes from the heart of the city to the Exposition) that a few blocks more or less is of little moment.
The Lincoln Parkway entrance is undoubtedly the "strait gate" of the Exposition. But since it is comparatively inaccessible most people content themselves with the second-best, or Elmwood entrance. Even that approach is very lovely. After exploring the horticultural gardens, not overlooking the bed of fantastic cacti from Mexico, you skirt the rushy shore of Mirror Lake and enter the Court of Fountains by the Triumphal Bridge in company with the just who came in the proper way.
A first day at the Exposition can scarce be better spent than in loitering about the courts, letting the beauty of the soft color and the wealth of exquisite detail, lavished everywhere, sink into mind and memory. Exhibits may wait a bit. It is the spectacle which will be longest remembered. And the more you look at it the more it will grow upon you. Some of us who have been lingering in these courts day after day for months have not yet begun to exhaust their fascination.
There is no better way to get a general idea of the plan of the grounds than to take the smooth-running elevator to the upper landing of the Electric Tower. From that height you see all at once the splendid expanse of the Court of Fountains and the beautiful proportioned lithe Plaza behind the tower. However, if you are to go up there but once, by all means let that once be at night. By day the view is magnificently wide; but touched by the magic of incandescence it is beautiful beyond expression. Another restful way to get acquainted with the grounds is to take passage in the electric launches which circle the Grand Canal. Passing entirely outside the courts, the canal introduces you to the outer entrances of the great buildings, often even more charming than the main doorways, and gives you glimpses of the Stadium, the Mission Building, the log huts of the Six Nation Indians, and some of the State buildings, which might otherwise long remain strangers. Beside the canal runs a shaded footpath offering the same advantages as the water route, save that you propel yourself.
All about the grounds sculpture, more or less impressive, calls for attention. Some of the best of this, notably that in the Plaza and in the niches of the Propylaea is from the antique, and still other statues are copies of bronze or marble works executed by Americans for parks or public buildings. The finest of these is St. Gaudens' mounted figure of General Sheridan [Sherman], which stands in front of the Art Gallery. Next to that is probably French's equestrian statue of Washington at the head of the approach to the bridge. The columns of the approach bear "Victories" from the Dewey Arch, designed by Herbert Adams of New York. Macmonnies' Sir Harry Vane stands on the east side of the Court of Fountains ; his "Bacchante " from New York on the west ; his Nathan Hale in the colonnade of the Court of Cypresses. In the Court of Lilies stands Ward's familiar "Pilgrim Father."
Of sculpture designed especially for the Pan-American probably the most impressive thing is Karl Bitters " Mounted Standard Bearers," on the pylons of the Triumphal Bridge. Next to these, in prominence at least, comes the " Goddess of Light," on the tip of the Electric Tower, by Herbert Adams. On each side the cataract fountain in the tower stand George Gray Barnard's figures, typical one of the Niagara of the past, the other of the Niagara of to-day. Niches in the tower colonnade hold figures emblematic of the Great Lakes and the rivers which bind them together. "Lake Michigan" and "Lake Ontario," female figures occupying the south niches, are by Philip Martiny, as are the "Torch Bearers" on the pavilionettes of the tower colonnade and the "Fountain of Abundance " between the Esplanade and the Court of Fountains. The "Fountain of Man" in front of the Government Building, by Charles Grafly, is full of dignity and impressiveness. Further enumeration of notable groups is out of the question; the list is too long. All the sculpture is numbered, and the catalogue is contained in the "Art Handbook," sold all about the grounds.
The preliminary survey over, let us turn to the serious side of the fair. The cream of the exhibits is where it ought to be - under the blue dome of the Government Building, and in its two small wings. Everybody is fascinated with the fish in the south wing, and with the big collection of fishing implements, hatching apparatus, and the like. The best time to see the fish is either very early in the morning before the crowd has gathered, or at three in the afternoon, when they are fed, and some lively pitched battles take place behind the glass. The north wing contains a valuable collection of Philippine curios - weapons, utensils, and so forth - which, with the living Philippine exhibit on the Midway, gives you a very fair idea of life on the islands.
In the main Government Building it is hard to say what you do not want to see. Perhaps the most popular section is that in the southeast corner of the building, under the label "Patent Office." There you see in operation the electrograph, the machine which transmits pictures by wire; the autograph, which enables you to write your signature ever so many miles away; the voting-machine, the entertaining mutoscopes, the mechanical mowing-machine, where the mown grass grows again while you wait, and scores of other ingenious novelties. In a dark room in this same part of the building the government schools make a novel exhibit of their work by means of the biograph and phonograph, the performance taking place at intervals from half past ten in the morning till five at night. Twice every day, at eleven and at two, there is a demonstration of wireless telegraphy in the War Department, under the government dome.
Niagara dominates the Electricity Building. At the east end of the building is a table covered with telephonic transmitters, and you have but to hold two of them to your ears to hear the thunderous roar of the Falls. The roar was captured by a transmitter in the Cave of the Winds, and is used as a sort of "bally-hoo " by one of the great telephone companies. Nearly half of the north wall of the building is occupied by the big transformer plant, where the power from the Falls, arriving at the high and dangerous potential of 11,000 volts, is stepped down to that of 1,800 volts for use about the grounds.
This is an electric exposition; the electrical exhibits cannot be contained in a single building; they are everywhere. Niagara power drives the trolley which carries you to the grounds; turns the wheels of the countless machines in Machinery Hall; whirls the electric fans which cool the theatres in the Midway; illuminates the cycloramas and other electrical effects and illusions; makes possible the powerful searchlight on the Electric Tower which sends signals to Toronto; glows in the blended colors of the Electric Fountain, and blossoms in a whole firmament of electric stars which make up the glory of the Pan-American illumination. All this makes of supreme interest a modest little working-model of the Niagara Power House, near the western end of the Electricity Building. A portion of the outer wall is removed to allow you to see the wheel-pit and penstocks, and the turbines spinning in the rush of water, revolving the humming dynamos in the power-house above. Much of the apparatus in the Electricity Building is beyond the ken of the layman; but the improved phonographs which send their strong, full voices ringing through the building, appeal to the interest of the least technically inclined. In a green burlaps-covered cabinet near the centre of the building is shown a novel apparatus called the akouphone, an electrical appliance enabling the deaf to hear by increasing the force of sound-waves. The Delany telegraph system, the model telephone station, and the X-rays demonstration attract attention by day, while at night the beautiful display of hanging Nernst lamps in the roof make the building charming beyond its sister structures.
In the Manufactures Building all the beautiful things - the gems, the silver, the decorated pottery, the embroideries, and so forth - are gathered in the charming Inner Court, with the famous Tiffany Fountain in the centre. Here are the Dewey sword, the Tiffany diamond, the one-hundred-and-fifty-thousand-dollar pearl necklace, and a fine collection of Favril glass, some of which will never be reproduced. The display of Rookwood pottery shows the immense variety of color and design being introduced into the ware which most of us were so well content to recognize by its moss and lichen shades and rich underglaze effects.
Outside the Inner Court the great Manufactures Building has literal acres of material - all of it of interest to somebody, but comparatively little interesting to everybody. Materfamilias finds in the Pure Foods Section a mine of house-keeping wisdom. Paterfamilias goes through tasting and scoffing. Materfamilias is full of enthusiasm for the model bathroom, and the model nursery in the Manufactures Annex. Paterfamilias gets absorbed in the big models of the Nicaragua and Panama Canal routes (which, by the by, appear to argue overwhelmingly in favor of Panama). These models in the southwest corner of the building, together with the Health Officers' Exhibit, the sewage-fertilizing display, and the contents of the Educational Section not far off, are the most important things in the building. Among exhibits which "go" are the complete shoemaking display of the Kulture shoe firm, the diamond cutting, silk-weaving, and silk-reeling from cocoons; the latter shown in the Corticelli silk booth, together with specimens of the silkworm from the new-born worm to the glossy cocoon. In the section devoted to musical instruments one can hear hourly concerts by mechanical piano-players and aeolians, and every two hours the amazing automatic brass band drowns every other sound in the building. For the rest one must chose for oneself.
Agriculture just across the way, is one of the most charming buildings in color and detail on the grounds. It pays to go in by the main entrance for the sake of seeing the deep recessed bays headed by bronzed Spanish shell designs, which open on each side the vestibule, and the curious use of lattice and grapevine in the decoration of the archway. The picturesque interior, with its booths decorated with corn and hard red wheat, is seen to best advantage from the balcony. The Latin Americas, inconspicuous or wanting in the other buildings, come out strong in agriculture. Some of them, like Argentine Republic and Nicaragua, have preferred to mass their products here rather than scatter them through the other departments. A trip round these foreign booths leaves you profoundly impressed with the prodigality of the soil of Central and South American countries, and the sufficiency of the western continent for all the needs of the New World. A corresponding tour of the United States Section serves to deepen your faith in the enterprise and progressiveness of the great American farmer.
Back in the Stadium, under the seats of the arena, are shown hundreds of farming implements of American invention and manufacture. The place is much haunted by farmers, who caress the ploughs as a surgeon might his pet instruments; but it is by no means an uninteresting place for people who know little about farming. A significant exhibit is a reaper made especially for the Mexican trade, showing that we are learning the first principle of commerce with the southern countries - not to force on them what we think would be good for them, but to give them precisely what they themselves demand.
Beyond the Propylaea, in the Railway Exhibit Building, are dozens of magnificent big locomotives, and new model trolley cars and devices for automatic coupling and the like. A big steam shovel, in operation out of doors just beyond the Railway Building, is a sight worth an effort to see.
The Mines Building is very full and intensely interesting. For people not especially fond of minerals the central case of native gems will probably prove most attractive. In horticulture there are no more valuable exhibits than those of California and Florida. The biggest engines in Machinery Hall are in the depressed Central Court. Among the more interesting exhibits on the ground floor are the ice-machines, the paper-box making, the great drills and lathes, and the like. But, then, to those who love machinery it is all fascinating.
One of the most important sections of the grounds is that of the Foreign Buildings, to the south of the Triumphal Bridge. The exhibits in these pretty little pavilions are peculiarly significant. Perhaps the most complete and interesting of the displays belongs to Chile. Mexico has scattered her fine exhibits through all the big buildings, reserving for her own building only the mining display and a collection of Mexican fauna.
All this investigated, there is still the Art Gallery. The big collection of paintings is so thoroughly representative of the work of Americas artists at home and abroad, and so full of superlative merit, that it makes one a better American just to walk through it. But it is emphatically not a one-picture collection. You cannot name the masterpiece, nor even the score of masterpieces. A week would be too short to get really intimate with all the good things in the gallery. But there are some pictures which must not be overlooked even in a cursory survey of the collection. In the vestibule Charles H. Davis' "Summer Clouds" repays study. The Sargents, Millets, Shannons, and the single Edwin Abbey are the notable canvases of Gallery B. Room C is rich with the pictures of Vedder, Whistler, Alexander Harrison, and J. W. Alexander. In the next room, the large Gallery D, Walter Gay's "Mass in Brittany" and Charles Sprague Pearce's "Sheepfold" will not be overlooked because of their size, nor Julius Stewart's studies of sunlight on flesh, or Gari Melcher's " Dutch Peasants," because of their daring color. But Dannat's "After the mass" does not speak so loudly. Gallery E is a small room, but the Daingerfield "Madonna," Birge Harrison's "Boston Common in Winter," together with forest studies by Shurtleff and cattle studies by Howe and a crisp marine by Rehn, make it notable. Henry Snell's fine marines, Albert Lynch's portraits, Coffin's delicate landscapes, and J. G. Brown's unspeakable commonplaces call for special note in Room F. Perhaps the richest room in the gallery is Room G. With Inness and Homer Martin and Wyant-our landscape old masters-and Blakelock, Ranger, Robert Minor, George Bogert, and John La Farge exhibiting in one room, there is scarce a canvas which doesn't demand study. "H" has Beckwith's stunning portraits, Davis' moonlight studies, more brilliant portraits by the feminine Sargent - Cecilia Beaux - Tarbell's clever sketches of pretty women, and, best of all, three charming pictures by Henry Oliver Walker, and Frank Benson's supremely beautiful "Summer." Tryon's dim and tender landscapes alternate with Dewing's imaginative studies of graceful women on the western wall of Gallery I. Portraits by Irving Wiles and Chase, and a strikingly clever picture of two sisters by Cecilia Beaux, Horatio Walker's strong pictures of the "Man with the Plough," George de Forest Brush's "Mother and Child," and Abbott Thayer's glorious "Young Woman" are among the finest things in the gallery. Tucked away in Room J are Will H. Low's exquisite "Wood Nymphs," Church's "Knowledge is Power," Robert Blum's Tokio," Charles Platt's "New England Hillsides," and Twachtman's wildest flights of impressionism.
It is a long drop from the Art Gallery to the Midway. But everybody wants to know what are the really worth-while shows. There are four genuine foreign villages: the Philippine, African, Eskimo, and Indian. Of these the most novel is certainly the Filipino Village, one of the most thoroughly native things on the Street of Streets. The performance in the pretty little theatre is charmingly varied and daintily amusing, and between-times the inhabitants go about their business, wash their clothes tropical fashion by slapping them on stones, hold cock-fights, ride about after awkward water-buffalo, and give you every opportunity to see them live. I am tempted to put next the Indian Congress with its seven hundred befeathered warriors and beaded squaws and papooses from the untamed Western tribes, living in their untidy tepees, weaving blankets, and displaying the savage picturesqueness of their native dances and games. The sham battle, for all its noise and show of war bonnets, is not the real feature of the Indian Congress. That is the performance in the ceremonial house which costs you an additional ten cents, but where you see Geronimo and the other celebrities at much closer range than in the big arena. Moreover, the defiance dance and the dance of the little children are of absorbing picturesqueness and interest. The slant-eyed Eskimos, in their seal-skins, are perhaps not quite so picturesque as the Indians, but behind their white ice-barrier they are living as genuinely an Eskimo life as the changed conditions will permit. You see them sewing after their misguided, back-handed fashion; carving in bone, cooking, paddling about their miniature lake, and playing their queer rough games with all the spirit that their burdensome furs have left them. Many people would put the Africans - Dahomeys, Pigmies, and Loangoans - before the jolly Northmen; but in one respect the Eskimos are distinctly superior - they show you their every-day life. Life in Africa, to judge from the Pan-American representation of it, must be one long carnival; for from morning to night the natives do nothing but dance. Those who are a trifle horrified at the scanty dress which these midnight-colored savages wear in the outer dance hall, had better not venture into the theatre (where, assurances to the contrary notwithstanding, an extra quarter's fee is charged), for there the Lounge dancing girls dispense with a portion of the drapery they appear in outside.
Beautiful Orient would deserve to be called a village were it not that its inhabitants comprise such varied nationalities: Cingalese, Algerians, Tunisians, Turks, Nubians, and whatnot (all unfortunately without their labels), and there is so little normal village life to be seen. Nobody who remembers Cairo Street at the World's Fair need be told that you can scarce spend fifteen cents to better advantage than to buy admission to these lively streets when the camels and Jerusalem donkeys are in full career, burdened with hilarious passengers. Nor need they be told that unless they are very careful they will spend more than that fifteen cents before they come out, for these suave Turks are the best salesmen in the world.
Fair Japan is so exquisitely pretty that you don't stop to inquire whether it is characteristic or not. As a matter of fact, nobody lives in the one Japanese dwelling-house. But you see native artists painting dainty name-cards, and native women baking crisp rice-cakes, while in the hand-painted theatre gorgeously dressed little Japs perform miracles of acrobatics with an ease which makes it pure pleasure to watch them, and real Geisha girls go through their slow posture dances to the sound of the plaintive samisen.
So much for villages, genuine and semi-genuine. There are three fantastic oddities which people like or don't like according to temperament. Nobody should go to the Moon or the House Upside Down who is destitute of imagination and perennial childishness, and nobody should go through Darkness and Dawn who doesn't like to be agreeably harrowed and horrified. Cyclorama lovers will be pleased with Jerusalem, Missionary Ridge, the Johnstown Flood, Burning Mountain, and Land of the Midnight Sun. Then there is a handful of low-priced shows : the Ostrich Farm; Esau, the educated Chimpanzee who eats with a knife and fork; Bonner, the beautiful horse who writes on a blackboard and does simple sums in addition; Chiquita, the pretty little twenty-six-inch Cuban dwarf; Lubin's moving pictures, and the Old Plantation. No one of these is a fake in the sense of being other than it claims to be, but the performances are brief in just proportion to the low fee.
To see the best of the performance in Bostock's Wild Animal Arena you need to be in the building between four and five in the afternoon, or between eight and nine at night, for those hours Bonivita's big group of trained lions are in the arena, and those lions are the climax of the show. The problem of dinner at the Pan-American is one of grave importance. If you are careless of expense it is easy to be happy; you dine in Alt Nurnberg, or up in the Tower, or at the American Inn. But if you want your money for something more lasting than viands the case is complicated. There are two fifty-cent dinners offered on the grounds: one at the restaurant beside the Philippine Village, the other in the Dairy Building. There is even a thirty-five-cent dinner to be had beside the East Amherst gate. For this I cannot vouch. In general the low-priced places furnish as good service and as desirable a menu as could be expected with Pan-American prices prevailing at the markets. The Nebraska Sod House used to be an exception. It furnished, and still furnishes for that matter, a meal of fricaseed chicken, coffee, and bread and butter for thirty cents. And it was good. But unfortunately everybody knows about the Sod House now, and unless you go at eleven o'clock in the morning it is always full and close. The Rice Kitchen is another reasonable place, but too popular for comfort. There is a moderate-priced restaurant with entrance from the street in Fair Japan. " Streets of Mexico" serves both native tamales and chili con carne and American food well cooked, at prices below that of the dearest places. Sandwiches and such unstaying trifles can be had at lunch counters everywhere, but they are not cheaper than more substantial dishes - that is, if you buy enough to sustain life. Habitues of the Exposition get their most substantial meal at noon at one of the cheaper places and sup lightly at Alt Nurnberg to the music of the fine band, or up on the colonnade of the Electric Tower with the whole sunlit spectacle spread out before them.
Wherever you dine the function should be gotten over before the afterglow is gone; for twilight is, next to illuminated night, the enchanted hour at the Exposition. Choose that time to stroll about the Court of Fountains or along the banks of the canal. Go over to the east front of the Mines Building for a long look at the Triumphal Bridge with the four white chargers rearing superbly skyward on the pylon towers, and at the white image of bridge and pylons drowned in the bright depths of Mirror Lake. Then go back to the bridge itself and see the sunset glow over the towering roofs of Horticulture and the fine old elms in Delaware Park. Then when the dimming of the low lights about you warns that the climax of the Exposition day has come, go down to where the great bridge meets the Esplanade and keep your eyes on the Electric Tower. Faintly the rose-pink color flushes the side of the tall shaft. The light of the elevator drops twinkling like a falling star through the grill work of the tower. The rose deepens and deepens on tower and dome and pinnacle, and then while the throng on the Esplanade holds its breath the light slowly rises to the brightness of the sun but without the glare, the softness of the moon without its coldness. A wonderful pure, soft radiance fills ever the air, a radiance which brings out every subtle harmony of color, every detail of fretted architecture, and, behold, that new wonder of the world - the Pan-American night - is born.
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