1901 Pan-American Exposition – Buffalo, New York ~~ “The Rainbow City”By
Between 1893 and 1905 Hermon Atkins MacNeil and his sculptures were involved in four World’s Fairs. The Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York (1901) was the second of these events. Popularly known as the 1901 World’s Fair in Buffalo NY, over 8 Million people attended the exhibition.
University of Deleware ~ Special Collections website offers this description;
The most unusual aspect of the Pan-American was the color scheme of its buildings. Unlike the pristine design of the “White City,” the architectural plan of the Pan-American was to build a “Rainbow City.” The buildings were done in a Spanish Renaissance style and were colored in hues of red, blue, green, and gold. The Electric Tower, the focal point of the fair, was colored deep green with details of cream white, blue, and gold. At night, thousands of electric lights outlined the buildings.
In the year 1900, MacNeil returned to the United States after three years in Rome and a fourth back in Paris. He settled in New York City. Within a year, MacNeil set up a home and an adjoining studio in College Point, Long Island (now Flushing, Queens ). His studio became his work place for the next four decades.
MacNeil’s “Sun Vow” and the “Moqui Runner” were both exhibited at the 1901 Fair. The “Sun Vow” had received a silver medal at the Paris exhibition of 1900. It was exhibited again at the Columbian Exposition of 1904 — the Saint Louis World’s Fair. As the years passed, it would become his best known work. (Webmaster’s Note: It recently graced the cover of the 2010 Denver Art Museum publication, “Shaping the West: American Sculptors of the 19th Century”)
At the Buffalo Exhibition he was asked to do the pediment sculptures for the Anthropological Building, as well as a grouping known as “Despotic Age.” Craven described the work as follows:
The spirit of despotism with ruthless cruelty spreads her wings over the people of the Despotic Age, crushing them with the burden of war and conquest and draging along the victims of rapine (plunder), a half savage figure sounds a spiral horn in a spirit of wild emotion. (Craven, SIA, p. 518)
MacNeil designed the official gold medal (displayed here in silver) struck in celebration of the Pan American Exhibition. His commissioned design bears a youthful woman standing beside a buffalo on the obverse side. She represents the triumph of the intellect over physical power. The reverse depicts two Indians with a sharing a peace pipe. One, a North American Indian, extends the extends the pipe to the South American Indian. Craven notes that
MacNeil chose to portray the theme of “Pan-American friendship through images of the red man, not the white man.” (Craven, SIA, P. 519). We can also observe that this choice extended MacNeil’s selection of native people into a second continent. [Photo credits CCya at http://www.coincommunity.com/forum/topic.asp?ARCHIVE=true&TOPIC_ID=25738]
President William McKinley was assassinated at the fair. On Sept. 6, 1901, Leon Czolgosz shot President McKinley in the Temple of Music, a pavilion of the Buffalo, New York, Pan-American Exposition. Eight days later, on Sept. 14, McKinley was dead. We do not know if MacNeil was present at the Fair when the President was attacked. In some sense, President McKinley’s overshadowed the rest of the Exposition. Buffalo promoted the event in order to be seen as a prosperous, modern, technologically-advanced city,. Instead Buffalo became seen as the city of the assassination.
In the years following The Buffalo Exhibition, a series of important commissions would raise him to prominence as a major American sculptor. One of those was, oddly enough, was the McKinley Monument Statue and Plaza at the front of the Ohio State Capitol Building where McKinley served two terms as the governor of the state.
The only remaining building of the fair is the New York State Pavilion. It is now the home of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. (see map) A boulder marking the site of McKinley’s assassination was placed in a grassy median on Fordham Drive
1901 Pan-American Exposition links: (active as of this posting date)
- Buffalo History – Black Faces at the Pan American Exposition of 1901, Buffalo, New York Pan American Exposition of 1901, Buffalo, New York – with Map
- Illuminations Revisiting the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition of 1901 – Costs of the Pan-American Exposition Compared to other International Exhibitions
- Pan-American Exposition – Buffalo 1901 Souvenir Textile
- The Pan American Exposition — Buffalo in 1901
- Pan Am World Fair Buffalo
- Schiller Institute- President Wm. McKinley- Assasinated 1901
- The Last Speech of William McKinley