Collection Facts

Extent: 
105 items
Dates of Original: 
1899-1902
NYH Topic Area(s):

Historical Context

The Pan-American Exposition (Pan-Am), which took place in Buffalo, NY from May 1 to November 1, 1901, was a World’s Fair designed to recognize the independence and growth of the nations of the Western Hemisphere and to celebrate the technological advances of the 19th century. Dozens of temporary buildings, made from wood and plaster, were constructed in the year and a half before the Exposition opened. Painted according to an intricate color scheme, the buildings were brightly-colored and inspired the nickname “Rainbow City.” Their ornate features blended classical architecture with Spanish influences from Latin America. Inside, visitors enjoyed cultural, artistic and technological exhibits. Other attractions on the Pan-Am grounds included a vibrant Midway, sporting events and concerts.
Unfortunately, the Pan-Am’s legacy was marred by the assassination of President William McKinley at the fair’s Temple of Music, which resulted in Theodore Roosevelt’s inauguration as president of the United States in the Site’s library on September 14, 1901.

Scope of Collection

This collection consists of many three-dimensional objects including spoons, paperweights, glasses, and pins as well as a rich paper-based collection of booklets, daily programs, tickets, and postcards. While the bulk of the Site’s collections consists of souvenir material, there are many rare items in the collection including a waiter’s jacket from the Streets of Mexico restaurant on the Pan-Am’s Midway and a visitor’s sign-in book from the private retreat of the Pan-Am’s Board of Directors.