In the Era of the Railways: 1851-1908 [excerpt]
The project of an All-American
exposition of arts and industries, to promote trade and social relations
between the countries and peoples of North, South and Central America,
and to be held on the Niagara frontier, was conceived and urged
in 1896 by Captain John M. Brinker, of Buffalo. A number of enterprising
capitalists and business men became interested in the scheme, and
a Pan-American Exposition Company was incorporated in June, 1897.
In the following September the directors of the company selected
Cayuga Island, at La Salle, about two miles from Niagara Falls,
for the site of the proposed exposition; but prospects of war with
Spain and other discouragements brought a halt in the undertaking
and it went not much farther at the time. The idea, however, was
kept alive. 
When the war with Spain had come and gone,
Mayor Conrad Diehl, of Buffalo, was induced to revive the proposition,
as one which our city should take in hand. He did so in a special
message to the Common Council, which called out an effective response.
A new company was incorporated, originally capitalized at $1,000,000,
but having that amount raised quickly to $2,500,000. The company
was authorized to issue bonds to the amount of its stock, and both
stock and bonds were taken, mostly at home. Appropriations of $500,000
and $300,000 for National and State exhibits were obtained at Washington
and Albany, and agencies for wakening interest in the enterprise
worked actively in other parts of the Union and abroad. Cayuga Island
was discarded as a practicable site for the exposition, because
of inadequate railway facilities, and the use of large grounds on
the northern edge of Delaware Park, with some use of the Park and
its beautiful lake, was obtained. The Spanish style of architecture
for buildings was adopted as appropriate, in view of the extent
to which the Spanish-American peoples were expected to participate.
When all preparations were in working order,
the organization of chief officials of the Pan-American Exposition
was as follows:
President: John G. Milburn.
Secretary: Edwin Fleming.
Treasurer: George L. Williams.
Directors: Frank B. Baird, George K. Birge,
Herbert P. Bissell, George Bleistein, John M. Brinker, Conrad Diehl,
W. Caryl Ely, H. M. Gerrans, Charles W. Goodyear, Harry Hamlin,
William Hengerer, Charles R. Huntley, John Hughes, William H. Hotchkiss,
J. T. Jones, F. C. M. Lautz, John G. Milburn, E. G. S. Miller, H.
J. Pierce, John N. Scatcherd, R. F. Schelling, Carleton Sprague,
Thomas W. Symons, George Urban, Jr., George L. Williams. 
Executive Committee: John N. Scatcherd,
Chairman; George K. Birge, Conrad Diehl, Harry Hamlin, Charles R.
Huntley, J. T. Jones, Robert F. Schelling, Carleton Sprague, Thomas
Director-General: William I. Buchanan.
Commissioner-General and Auditor: John
Director of Concessions: Frederick W. Taylor.
Board of Architects: John M. Carrere, Chairman;
George F. Shepley, R. S. Peabody, Walter Cook, J. G. Howard, George
Cary, Edward B. Green, August C. Esenwein.
Director of Color: C. Y. Turner.
Director of Sculpture: Karl Bitter.
Director of Works: Newcomb Carleton.
Landscape Architect: Rudulf Ulrich.
Chief of Building Construction: J. H. Murphy.
Chief Engineer: S. J. Fields.
Chief of M. and E. Bureau: Henry Rustin.
Director of Fine Arts: William A. Coffin.
Superintendent of Electric Exhibits: George
Superintendent of Graphic Arts, Machinery,
etc.: Thomas M. Moore.
Superintendent of Liberal Arts: Selim H.
Superintendent of Ethnology and Archaeology:
A. L. Benedict.
Superintendent of Live Stock, Dairy, etc.:
Frank A. Converse.
Superintendent of Horticultural and Food
Products: F. W. Taylor.
Superintendent of Mines and Metallurgy:
David T. Day.
Superintendent of Manufactures: Alger M.
As happens generally in such undertakings,
the appointed day for opening the Exposition, May 1, 1901, found
much  incompleteness of preparation
for it, but mostly in matters which general managers cannot control.
Some States and some foreign countries had been late in their building
undertakings, and great numbers of exhibitors were unready to make
use of the space they had engaged. Something of this tardiness was
due, without doubt, to the dispiriting effects of a wet and cold
spring. The opening of the Exposition to the public took place,
nevertheless, on the appointed day, but the formal ceremonies of
its inauguration were postponed until the 20th. Exercises held then
in the Temple of Music included addresses by Vice-President Roosevelt,
Lieutenant-Governor Timothy L. Woodruff, of New York, Senator Henry
Cabot Lodge, of Massachusetts, and Mayor Conrad Diehl; with noble
poems read by Robert Cameron Rogers and Frederick Almy.
The United States Government interested
itself most heartily in the Exposition, and realized most perfectly
in its finely organized exhibits the instructive main purpose in
view. Every department of the government contributed something interestingly
representative of the functions and public services it performs,
or of the national resources and activities over which it presides.
The three buildings of the group in which these exhibits of governmental
work were arranged became the centers of a more substantial attraction
than any others on the ground.
Thirteen of the States of our Federal Union
were represented by handsome buildings under official care. The
fine permanent building of New York State, in marble, on public
park grounds, is now the property of the Buffalo Historical Society.
The New England States were joined in the erection of a beautiful
building for their common use. The other States represented by governmental
buildings were Pennsylvania, Maryland, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota
and Illinois. Porto Rico, alone, of the outlying possessions 
of the United States, presented exhibits in a building of its own.
Other American countries which contributed admirably, not only to
the Pan-American display of resources and products, but to the housing
of them, were Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Chile, Ecuador, Honduras and
the Dominican Republic.
That Buffalo was benefited by the Exposition
will hardly be disputed; but in immediate financial results it was
not a success. A late-coming spring and a singularly unfavorable
state of weather throughout most of the months following were blighting
in themselves; but the fatal stroke came in the awful tragedy of
the assassination of President McKinley, which occurred on the 6th
of September. While holding a reception in the Temple of Music,
on the Exposition grounds, the President was shot by a Polish anarchist,
who approached him in the passing line of people, with a pistol
hidden by a handkerchief in his hand. Death was not immediate; there
were eight days of suffering, heroically endured, while the country
was thrilled with hopes and fears. Death came on the 14th, and Vice-President
Roosevelt immediately took the oath of office as President, at the
residence of Mr. Ansley Wilcox, who was his host at the time.
To many thousands of people the Pan-American
Exposition is a delightful memory; but it was not thronged as it
needed to be for an immediate repayment of its cost. The total admissions
were 8,120,048; the total revenue from admissions $2,406,875.80.
The total expenditures upon it were $9,447,702.93; the total income,
including payments on capital stock and proceeds from the sale of
bonds, was $8,869,757.20. The loss to stockholders ($1,643,203.50
in amount) was entire. First mortgage bonds were paid, but nothing
was received by the holders of the second issue, of $500,000. Towards
the payment of unsettled accounts, which amounted to $577,945.73,
a Congressional appropriation of $500,000 was obtained.