From the Rand McNally "Hand-Book to the Pan-American Exposition" (1901)

The United States Government group of three buildings is at the eastern end of the Esplanade, overlooking the Grand Canal. The main building is 600 feet long and 130 feet wide. The two others, the Colonial and Fisheries buildings, are each 150 feet square. The group is architecturally a modified treatment of the Spanish Renaissance, the details suggesting a Mexican rather than a strictly Spanish origin. These buildings are constructed of staff. The color scheme is rich and brilliant, the lavish use of color and gilding giving, with the intricate plastic decorations and sculpture groups, an ensemble both striking and interesting. Portions of the roofs, covered with red Spanish tiles, add much to the character of the buildings.

In plan, the buildings are shaped like a letter U, the opening being toward the west. The main building corresponds to the bottom of the U, which accommodates the greater portion of the Government exhibits, the administrative offices, guard room, etc. Its center is surmounted by a dome, the apex of which, 250 feet above the main floor level and crowned with a figure of Victory twenty feet in height, forms one of the most conspicuous features of the Exposition grounds. Connected by colonnades to the main building are the two lesser buildings or pavilions, one 'of which holds an exhibition typical of life and labor in the Government's new possessions, and a branch station of the United States Weather Bureau; while the other contains the exhibit, aquariums, etc., of the United States Fish Commission.

Inlets from the canal fill the spaces within the colonnades connecting the pavilions with the main building. The central plaza, the space enclosed by the arms of the U, is decorated by steps, terraces and formal flower beds, making an easy and beautiful approach to the main entrance under the dome.


The Treasury Department exhibit occupies the space on each side of the middle aisle as one enters from the Esplanade. It is interesting throughout and one can spend considerable time with profit in looking it over.

One of the features is an exhibit from the government mint, showing a new coin press in operation which has a capacity of 90,000 coins per hour and is operated with a force pressure equal to 100 tons. The product of this press is offered for sale to visitors as souvenirs. In this exhibit is a full collection of coins from 1793 to 1901 among which is the famous La Fayette dollar. There are also to be seen all of the medals that have been issued by the government commemorative of various events, and cases containing the coins of all nations.

In the Bureau of Printing and Engraving in this department can be seen proof sheets of all the bills, postage and revenue stamps. The series of currency ranges from ten cents to a $10,000 gold note. A hand plate press is in daily operation to give visitors an idea of the manner in which the currency is printed.

The Registrar's office of the Treasury exhibits Colonial and Continental money, and a series of the state issues of currency and bonds. Copies of the bonds issued during the Civil war and the Spanish?American war are included.

The Coast and Geodetic Survey exhibits models showing the contour of the coasts, bays, tidal models, models equipped for deep sea sounding, etc.

The Marine Hospital shows models of hospital ships, a fully equipped Marine Hospital, X-Ray apparatus, and the manner of preventing the spread of contagious diseases.

The Lighthouse department has made a splendid display and one that is attracting a great deal of attention. Large lenses designed for lighthouses have been placed in position with their mechanism and are operated during the open hours of the Exposition. All the material used in lighthouses is shown and in the center of the building stands a fully equipped lighthouse 45 feet high.

The Life Saving exhibit is in a special building on the Park lake.


This exhibit occupies the northwest corner of the main building and is complete in every detail. One of the most interesting features of this interesting place is the will of James Smithson, the founder of the institution. There is a full set of the publications issued since its foundation and pictures of the building and interiors.

The National Museum section of this exhibit contains many interesting features. One of the exhibits which attracts much attention is that of the Filipinos, which is shown in this section.

In zoology the museum has many rare and striking specimens. Among mammals should be mentioned the Kodiak bear of Alaska, the largest bear in the world; the singular little gray Glacier bear, which lives among the snow-fields back of Mt. St. Elias; the giant moose, the wild black sheep of British Columbia, and Dall's sheep, which is entirely white; the rare West Indian seal, the musk ox, the mountain caribou, and others. All the larger species are mounted on bases with accessories indicating their natural surroundings and habits.

The bird exhibit comprises about 300 of the most brilliant and striking forms in America, including many West Indian and South American species, such as the condor, the American ostrich, the macaws and parrots, umbrella bird, bell bird, and cock-of-the-rock. The taxidermy of both birds and mammals is of a very high order.

Among reptiles the most striking exhibit is a gigantic snapping turtle from Texas, known as the alligator snapper. The creature is about five feet long, and is the largest fresh water turtle ever found in America. This part of the exhibit also includes the poisonous and non-poisonous American snakes-rattlesnakes, moccasins, boa constrictors, spreading adders, together with many striking lizards, frogs, toads and salamanders, including species from Cuba and Porto Rico.

American fishes are fully represented. The museum has had agents at Key West, Florida, and on the Amazon River collecting specimens specially for the Buffalo exhibit. These have been prepared by a new method, by which their natural form and much of their brilliant color is preserved. A novelty in fishes is a large model of luminous deep-sea fish, arranged by means of electrical attachments so that it will phosphoresce, as it is known to do, when alive in the depths of the ocean. Many of the fishes from the deepest waters are exceedingly grotesque and wonderful in structure, but on account of their small size and their bad condition when dragged from the depths of the sea, they are little known to the public.

The geological exhibits are diversified and chiefly American. One very interesting series consists of examples of the various elements which occur uncombined in the rocks, such as gold, silver, copper, lead, mercury, platinum, carbon and iron. Strange as it may seem, one of the rarest of these elements is iron. The exhibit contains native iron from Greenland, and a portion of an iron meteorite from New Mexico. Another interesting object is a large platinum nugget worth about $200. Carbon is represented by a diamond crystal, a piece of graphite, and specimens of the curious and valuable black diamond, known as carbonade, a piece of which the size of half a pea is worth about $40.

A series of minerals includes every important variety,  and no small number of very striking forms, largely from America.

Another especially interesting exhibit is a series of the rocks of the Hawaiian islands, which, as is well known, are mainly lavas. The exhibit is accompanied by photographs of the interior of the craters of the volcanoes. An exhibit of concretionary structures found in mineral and rocks includes some magnificent slabs of the concretionary granite found in New England. Collections of deposits from the geysers and hot springs of Yellowstone Park are also shown.

Still another section of the geological exhibits is devoted to fossil vertebrate animals and fossil wood. Of the fossil animals, the one which attracts most attention is the skeleton of the gigantic mammal?like reptile known as Triceratops. This creature was larger than the largest elephant, and had an immense bony shield on the back of the head, as well as a pair of great horns over the eyes. Besides the skeleton, a large painting representing the animal as it must have appeared when alive, and a model are also shown.

Another extraordinary creature exhibited is a bird with teeth, known as Hesperornis. This remarkable bird was more than three feet high. The skeleton is practically complete. Much attention is attracted by the collection of fossil woods from Arizona, many of which are extremely brilliant in color.

Hardly less striking is the Zeuglodon, a whale-like carnivorous animal from Alabama, which reaches a length of fifty or sixty feet. It is a strange combination of whale, sea-cow and sea-lion, and has long been a puzzle to zoologists.

An extensive display of American anthropology, prepared in cooperation with the Bureau of American Ethnology, completes the exhibits from the museum. The most prominent feature of this exhibit consists of ten large family groups, representing typical native American peoples, from the Patagonian to the Arctic Eskimo. Each group serves to give an idea of the costumes, surroundings and mode of life of the people to which it relates. Close attention has been paid to every detail of the accessories, and the modeling and painting of the human figures are of a high order.

The principal peoples represented are the Eskimo of the farthest north, the Canadian Algonquins, the Thlinkins of Southeastern Alaska, the basket-making Digger Indians of California, the Zuni Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, the Mayas of Yucatan, the Napo Indians of the Upper Amazon, and the Rhea-hunting Indians of Patagonia.

Surrounding the groups are many cases filled with collections representing the arts of the Indians, their household utensils, dress, weapons, etc. A series of models of habitations, the wigwam, the snow?house and pueblo are also shown.

Visitors find a great deal to interest them in the collection of native baskets. This series includes every type of aboriginal basket?making in the western hemisphere. There are many beautiful pieces, such as the Aleutian fine grass weaving, the porno coiled ware of California, and the diagonal weaving of the Caribs of Guiana, the first Indians met by Columbus.


The Department of Interior exhibit is across the aisle and to the east of the Smithsonian. It presents many new and interesting features, among them being an exhibition of the uses of wood pulp in the manufacture of articles, the most prominent feature being the imitation of leather goods. On a rack standing near the center of the exhibit is a number of plows showing the improvements that have been made in that single direction in the course of time. There are many interesting models in the Patent Office section. On the north wall is a picture bearing the title "The Genius of Invention" that is well worth seeing.

The front line of the exhibit of the Bureau of Indian Affairs is marked at one end by the life-ize figures of an Indian woman and child; at the other end by a warrior, with battle-ax and shield ready to defend his home. Between these stand a case containing specimens of some of the native arts, industries and foods. The ancient weaving of cotton fibre is seen in a Moqui ceremonial kilt and a bridal girdle. The round knobs on the fringe of the latter symbolize the squash flower, sacred to maidens. A miniature loom with a partly woven Navajo blanket, and red sashes worn by Moqui women, show other styles of weaving. The roots, wild rice, and seeds used as foods, are in baskets of aboriginal manufacture; maize, or corn, is represented by a Moqui ceremonial plaque, with the symbolic design of "Mother Corn," its gay colors contrasting with a dingy winnowing basket known to be over one hundred years old from the Nez Perces tribe of Idaho.

Back of this line are cases filled with examples of the schoolroom and industrial work of the different government schools scattered from Carlisle, Pa., to Chemawa, Ore., and from Phcenix, Ariz., to Oneida, Wis. This part of the exhibit includes several models. One, from Chilocca, Oklahoma, of a house made by Charles Blackeyes, of the Seneca tribe, is finished completely within as well as without; the doors and windows open so that one can see the wainscoted rooms. A four years' course in sewing is shown, beginning with simple hemming and cutting of patterns through the different stages up to the completed costume. Boys' uniforms, girls' clothing, infants' garments, embroidery and lace making are exhibited. At the recent Paris Exposition lace made by Indian women, who had been taught by Miss Carter, won a prize in that center of lace manufacture.

Behind the school exhibit is a space set apart by a screen of grill?work made by the Indian students at Hampton Institute, Va. All the articles within this enclosure are the handiwork of Indians who are either in school or are working for themselves at their respective avocations. The central object in this room is the mantel. The woodwork was done at Haskell Institute,  Kan., from a design by Angel de Cora, a young Winnebago artist, who also furnished the oil painting. Miss de Cora was graduated from Hampton Institute, afterward was student at the Philadelphia School of Fine Arts, later became a pupil of Howard Pyle and is now pursuing her art studies in Boston. The design for the mantel was entirely original with Miss de Cora. In it she has combined the native symbolism of fire with our own tradition of the fireside. Upon the space below the shelf, in low relief of redwood, is a conventionalized thunderbird, the plumes of its wings breaking out into flames; at the sides and in a band around the upper part of the mantel, making a frame for the central painting, are conventionalized forms of the sticks used in the ceremony of making the sacred fire by friction; the scene of the picture is on the rolling prairie at sunset, suggesting the hour of gathering about the hearth; off to the left is a cluster of Indian tents, each one aglow from the bright fire within; in front, a little to the right and against a background of golden clouds, stand a pair of lovers, the beginning of a new fireside. This poetic conception is carried out with clearness, simplicity and skill, and makes Miss de Cora's mantel a work of art.

In the bookcase, besides photographs and other record, of Indian work, is a volume called "The Middle Five," a clever and charmingly written story of Indian school life by one of "the five" boys who were known to their mates ;as "The Middle Five," Mr. Francis La Flesche, an Omaha Indian, now in the employ of the Indian Bureau at Washington. The frontispiece to this work is by Angel de Cora and the picture hangs in this exhibit.

The frieze is composed of Moqui ceremonial plaques, the designs and colors are all symbolic and each has its meaning. The plaque directly over the fireplace, representing a wheel, is symbolic of motion, of life, of breath, of the wind. The peculiar arrangement of the hair on the heads that form the capital of the pillar, typifies the sacred flower of the squash. The pillar, the inlaid table and the
polished slab of onyx are the work of the pupils of the school at Phoenix, Ariz. The purpose of this exhibit by the Bureau of Indian Affairs is threefold:

First. To show something of the native capacity of the Indian and his artistic feeling, as in the aboriginal weaving, basketry and plaques.

Second. To set forth the methods used in the schools to train him along our lines of thought and activities, as seen in the school work.

Third. To present examples of the use he makes of this training to express in forms intelligible to us his artistic feeling and his power of workmanship. These are manifest in Miss de Cora's designs and paintings, in the humor and pathos of Mr. La Flesche's book, and in the skillful handicraft displayed in the various articles of the exhibit.


The Department of Justice occupies the space next south of the Interior Department exhibit. Here are to be seen photographs and pictures of the Justices of the Supreme Court from the formation of that body, and interesting information in classified form relating to the workings of the highest tribunal in the world.


The Department of Labor makes an exhibit of some of its different lines of work, as shown in its annual and special reports and its bi-monthly Bulletin, dealing with subjects connected with labor, the earnings of laboring men and women, and the means of promoting their material, social, intellectual and moral welfare.

The exhibit contains thirty-one volumes published by the department since its inception in 1884 and a complete collection of all the reports published by the thirty-one state bureaus engaged in similar lines of work, making in all over 400 volumes, covering a period of a little over thirty years. Photographs show the objects of some of the Department's investigations and give an idea of some of the results. One set of photographs and plans shows the various stages in the evolution of the tenement house in New York from the early tenement. of 1863, with dark, unventilated inside rooms, to the light, airy, sanitary tenements of the present day, as exemplified in the Riverside and Astral buildings. Various foreign tenements of modern type in London, Liverpool and Glasgow are also shown.

The model small house of the detached type is also represented by several examples from American and foreign cities. Elevations and floor plans give every opportunity for the comparison of the various types.

Plans are also shown of the model small public bath as evolved by German experience and used largely both by employers and municipal cities. The monumental bath is exemplified by plans from Manchester and London, England, and from Stuttgart, Germany.

Specific results of investigations are displayed in large wall charts. The cities with over 30,000 population are compared so as to show graphically the per capita assessed valuation, net debt, expenditure for fire department, police, streets, street lighting, schools and total maintenance, as well as birth and death rates, all these being presented both in the order of population and in the order of per capita valuation, debt or expenditure, as the case may be.

Other charts present graphically:
The course of prices, 1840 to 1891; from 1890 to 1899, and from 1891 to 1900.
The course of money wages, hours of labor and prices, and of real wages, 1840 to 1899.
Wages of blacksmiths, bricklayers, carpenters, compositors, and house painters in certain cities of the United States and Great Britain; Paris and Lyons, France; and Liege, Belgium, 1870 to 1898.
Strikes ordered by labor organizations and others, establishments involved in strikes and employees thrown out of work, 1881 to 1900.
Wage loss of employees, assistance to employees by labor organizations and employers' loss, in strikes 1881 to 1900.

In addition there has also been issued in connection with the exhibit a series of monographs under the following titles:
I. The working of the Department of Labor.
II. The value and influence of labor statistics.
III. Employer and employee under the common law.
IV. Present status of employers' liability in the United States.
V. Protection of workmen in their employment.
VI. Public baths in Europe.


The exhibit of the Bureau of American Republics has been made with the object of showing its work. The relief map of the Intercolonial railway, the construction of which was suggested at the International American conference in 1890, gives an idea of the proposed line of that railway through the countries on this continent.

The interest in this particular display is further enhanced by a miniature exhibit, geographically arranged in glass cases, of the most important products of the countries through which the Intercolonial railway will pass.

Several manuscript maps, notably of Mexico and Brazil. are samples of the efforts of the Bureau in this direction. In a number of bookcases the publications of the Bureau, from the time of its creation to the present day, are shown.

The wall space contains photographs of officials and men who have been prominently identified in Pan?American affairs. The cases which occupy the floor space contain interesting documents, many in the original; some facsimiles, and others photographic productions of documents pertaining to the history of this hemisphere.

A prominent feature of the exhibit is a collection of photographs of the Columbia mural paintings of the University of Notre Dame.


The State Department exhibit, which is located south of the Bureau of American Republics and on the main east and west aisle, contains photographs of all the men who have held the office of Secretary, copies of all the treaties made between the United States and foreign governments, and papers relating to the embassies, legations and consulates of this government in all countries.


The war Department exhibit, which occupies the southeast quadrant of the center space in the building, also presents some interesting features. Here are depicted the character of men who serve in each branch of the service by means of models properly uniformed. There are arms and ordnance and everything pertaining to that important division of the government.

Models of pontoon bridges, defense earthworks and the manner of protecting land from the inroads of water, both of rivers and the sea coast, are also shown. This exhibit contains a splendid collection of arms of all periods in the s history of the government, also examples of early and modern ordnance.


The Government Post Office exhibit is in the southeast corner of the main building and so attractive that it is constantly filled with visitors. It contains six large model postal steamers, including the Paris, which was the Yale during the Spanish war, and the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse.

A most interesting exhibit is one illustrating the delivery of mail in the different parts of Uncle Sam's country. Most attractive is the pony express, showing a life-size rider on a full-size horse with his mail bags and equipment complete. The background is a reproduction of Rocky Mountain scenery.

Another scene is of snow and ice, and in the midst of this a sled with dogs and driver, life?size. These mounted dogs, when alive, pulled the same sled over the Mackinaw and Sault Ste. Marie route.

A model of the old "Southerner," a square rigged side wheeler, the first steamer to carry the U. S. mail across the Atlantic, is also shown.

Scenes typical of Cuba, Porto Rico and the Philippines are exhibited. The costume and outfit used in each country is displayed on life?size models.

The battered old Rocky Mountain Mail Coach is in the center of the Government Postal Exhibit. This relic of the early days of mail-carrying in the West, of Indian fights, captures and recaptures, and untold scenes of thrilling and melodramatic interest, is a veteran of expositions as well as of the trails. As all who attended the great fairs in Chicago and Paris probably have read from the cardboard inscription on the door, this coach has carried many famous people, including General Sherman and President Garfield. The coach used to carry mail between Fort Ellis and Helena, Mont.

It was once captured by the Indians and held for some time and recaptured again by General O. O. Howard.

The passenger department of the Missouri Pacific Railway and the Iron Mountain Route has prepared a collection of 100 pictures, which are exhibited in this section.

The collection embraces every conceivable phase of activity on either of these lines. There are represented in the number views of every character, from the quiet cattle scene of Acadian simplicity, to the infernal activity of the smelters and mines in the great mineral region, from the peaceful existence of the model farms to the rugged beauty and hardness of the Ozarks. Others depict the beautiful stretches of smooth yet swiftly flowing water of the "Father of Waters," lined on one hand by time-defying bluffs, behind which, stretched out in the smiling beauty of well?tended farms, lie some of the most productive fields in the country.

The collection of articles sent through the mails and of articles which have been sent to the dead letter office is exhibited in cases. There are models at different places in the exhibit of the uniform and paraphernalia of the postmen of the different countries of the world.


The exhibit of the Navy Department is located in the southwest corner of the Government building, and presents many interesting features. There are shown models of the best ships in the navy, one of these being that of the Maine, which went down in Havana harbor. Another interesting relic of this vessel is the spare propeller paddle which is exhibited.

An enclosed scene represents the deck of a warship, on which are models of officers, designed to show the different uniforms used in the navy.

A considerable amount of ordnance is shown, one of the features being a wood model, full sized, of a 13-inch gun, cut in sections to show rifling and thickness of barrel at different distances from the breech.

There are drawings and pictures of the Naval Academy and many other interesting features, not the least of which is, that Naval Constructor Richmond P. Hobson can be seen most of the time in the vicinity of the exhibit, he having been detailed to Buffalo during the entire time of the Exposition.

The model sick bay is on the same scale as those on the largest of the United States battleships, and is fully equipped, even to the smallest details. It is a hospital on a small scale. The model is 30 feet long and 8 feet wide. One end is separated and devoted to the office of the pharmacist of the ship. Here is a desk and lavatory as well as numerous drawers and lockers for drugs. The other end is fitted up as a bath room. Everything found in the bays of the battleships in commission are to be found in this one. There are fire extinguishers, electric lights, heating apparatus, and the best plumbing has been used.


The Agricultural Department exhibit is in the north wing of the Government building and is connected with the main building by a colonnade. The exhibit embraces the Bureau of Animal Industry, the Bureau of Chemistry, Botany and the Weather Bureau.

The Weather Bureau occupies the northeast corner of the building, which is divided into four parts by the aisles which run through the center. Here is shown in daily operation a two-color lithographing press for the making of weather maps. These maps are distributed as souvenirs to visitors. There is also exhibited a weather tower from which signals of storms are displayed. Photographs of lightning and of peculiar shaped clouds can also be seen.

In the Botanical Department, across the aisle to the south, are shown samples of grasses and grains and a full exhibition of the manner in which tobacco is cultivated. The fruit exhibit presents some interesting features.

West of the Botanical Department is the Bureau of Chemistry. Here is shown all of the stages in the manufacture of beet sugar, in which industry $25,000,000 is invested in this country alone. The exhibit contains a collection of photographs showing the methods of growing the beets.

In this department is the Bureau of Chemistry, which  makes a display of food adulteration, also charts showing the relation of price to the quality of foods.

A complete laboratory for the testing of rocks and road making machinery is to be seen. There are also a number of photographs showing good and bad roads in all parts of the country, and charts showing how good roads should be constructed.

In the Bureau of Animal Industry exhibit, which is also in this section, a collection of plants that destroy animals is shown. There is a dairy exhibit which shows the proper method of caring for dairy products. There is also an interesting exhibit of horses' hoofs, showing the proper and improper methods of horse shoeing. There are models of sheep dips, and methods used in the inspection and exportation of meats.

The northwest corner of the building is occupied by the Filipino exhibit.

A large portion of the Filipino exhibit consists of agricultural implements and products. There is the primitive plow and rake used in the rice fields, knives for cutting rice straw, rice sifters, baskets and sieves, models of rice mills, and finally the rice itself.

The palm leaf is everywhere in evidence, being used for roofs, hats, cloaks, fans, baskets and other things.

The collection includes all kinds of fishery apparatus, lines, nets, rafts, boats and baskets. The tools of the various trades are also well represented, such as a complete carpenter's kit, carriage and harness makers' tools, masons' tools, a tinsmith's outfit, farrier's implements, etc.

The exhibit is supplemented by several hundred mounted photographs, colored pictures of flowers and plants, and a small collection of animals.


The United States Fish Commission occupies the south pavilion of the Government building, and affords 10,000 feet of floor space. The exhibits are arranged under three general headings: scientific inquiry, fish culture, and methods and statistics.

The aquarium occupies 6,500 square feet and is rectangular in shape. It contains 32 tanks of fresh and salt water fish, also the economic and food fishes of the North Atlantic coast and of the inland waters east of the Rocky mountains. The fresh water in the tanks is obtained from the Niagara river and the salt water from Woods Hole, Mass. This is stored in the basement of the building in reservoirs and pumped through hard rubber pipes to the tanks above. In the basement there is an ice machine to cool the water for certain kinds of ocean fish that live far north in the Atlantic and outside of the gulf stream. A heating plant is provided for raising the temperature for those fish requiring warm water.

The division of scientific inquiry shows a complete laboratory, also instruments and apparatus for making deep sea collections. There are models of fishing vessels of the latest construction, and the exhibit of oysters surpasses anything heretofore made by the government in that line. The growth of the oyster is traced for years, and there are examples of the conditions under which it is found in various parts of the country. There is also a beautiful collection of oyster shells and of pearls.

The method of fish culture is fully shown. Apparatus is exhibited showing the practical work of hatching trout, salmon, shad, pike, perch and others. In this department there ate charts and pictures, the former presenting the figures of growth and consumption, and the latter the scenes connected with the actual work of supplying the human family in America with fish.


In the north end of the main building is the government's outdoor exhibit of ordnance. Here is a 13?inch mortar, a 12?inch gun with disappearing carriage, and the 16-inch sea coast defense rifle manufactured at the Watervliet Arsenal, the most powerful piece of ordnance ever constructed, with a maximum range of 20 1/2 miles. The exhibit of ordnance and munitions of war at this
exposition is the largest ever made anywhere.

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