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[Detail] Coos Bay Bridge, North Bend, Oregon.

International Expositions

International expositions were held in U.S. and European cities during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many of the "World's Fairs" held in the United States celebrated culture, commerce, and technology while commemorating a major historic event. For example, Philadelphia’s 1876 Centennial Exposition celebrated the hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. One Exposition building, Memorial Hall, was "an early monumental building" and "one of America's first in the Beaux-Arts manner," boasting a ten-entry vestibule leading to an open arcade, (page 2).

Other exposition buildings featured in the HABS collection include the store buildings from Chicago's 1893 Columbian Exposition, the Jefferson Memorial Building from the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, and the Palace of Fine Arts from San Francisco's 1915 Exposition, which was characterized as "the most original creation in the architecture of the Exposition, as it was the most beautiful" for its dome and sculptures (page 8).

Famous buildings from U.S. history were also displayed at a number of expositions. For example, the Harpers Ferry, West Virginia fort raided by abolitionist John Brown in 1859 was "considered of so great historic value that it was removed to Chicago in 1892 and exhibited at the World's Columbian Exposition," (page 2). Meanwhile, Theodore Roosevelt's Cross-Ranch Cabin was moved from North Dakota and put on display at the St. Louis exposition in 1904.

  • What did the construction of ornamental temporary buildings imply about the intent of these international expositions?
  • Why do you think that people were interested in seeing buildings such as the Harpers Ferry fort?
  • What do you think was the role of these historic buildings at the fair?
  • Is the value and significance of an historic building affected when it is removed from its original location?
  • How did historic buildings compare to the buildings that were designed specifically for the event?