Home -> John J. Newbegin -> The Jewel City -> XV. Inside the Exhibit Palaces

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Inside the Exhibit Palaces

All competitive exhibits strictly contemporaneous, showing the arts of to-day - Revolution worked by the motion-picture theater in exhibition methods - The lessons of Machinery Palace - Coal and steam fast yielding to liquid fuels and waterpower and electricity - Life-saving devices, accident prevention and employees' welfare made prominent in Palaces of Machinery and Mines - A contrast in locomotives - Building a motor car every ten minutes - Co-operative exhibits in Food-Products Palace - Many great displays by the United States Government - Educational exhibits not duplicated, each state or city showing its specialty.

In its industrial displays, as well as its art, the Exposition keeps steadily in view the fact that it commemorates a contemporary event; it is contemporaneous, not historical. Hence it was decreed from the first that the exhibits must be the products of the last decade, a rule strictly observed save in rare cases where older forms have been admitted for comparison. The result is two-fold. The exhibits are condensed to the essential, giving room for a greater number of exhibitors; and the progress of the world is shown as of today.

Eleven palaces house the exhibits, exclusive of live stock. Officially, the things shown in the state and foreign buildings are not "exhibits," but "displays," and are not eligible for award. In general, the names of the palaces indicate the classes of exhibits to be found in them. No sharp line, however, can be drawn between the Palaces of Manufactures and Varied Industries, or between Agriculture and Food Products. In other cases there is some overlapping of classes. One section of the Liberal Arts exhibit is in the Palace of Machinery.

A striking feature of almost all the palaces, and one that differentiates this Exposition from its great predecessors of a decade or more ago, is the common use of the moving-picture machine as the fastest and most vivid method of displaying human activities and scenery. Everywhere it is showing industrial processes. Former expositions, for want of this device, have been mainly exhibitions of products. These have hitherto been shown in such bulk as to fill vast floor spaces and become a weariness to the flesh, while it was impossible, from the nature of things, to exhibit the great primary industries of field, forest, sea and mine in actual operation. The motion-picture machine has not only lessened the areas of products shown, thus making this Exposition more compact than former ones; but it has increased the effectiveness of exhibition methods by carrying the spectator, figuratively, into the midst of operations, and showing him men at work in all the important processes of agriculture, in the logging camps, in mines and fisheries, as well as in the mills and factories where the raw materials of these basic industries are worked into finished products. Its value for showing scenery, too, is fully utilized here. Many of the states and foreign countries employ it. Even faraway Siam uses it to instruct the Occident concerning her resources and people. Counting those in the state and foreign buildings, seventy-seven free moving-picture halls are to be found within the Exposition. Their efficiency is indicated by the crowds that throng them daily.

The Palace of Machinery holds three lessons for the observer. It shows not only the state of man's invention at the present moment, the increasing displacement of coal by hydroelectric plants and liquid fuels, but what is perhaps more significant, the changing direction of invention toward devices for human betterment. The Diesel oil engine and multitudes of electrical machines stand for the latest word in mechanical invention. The Diesel again, with a host of other internal combustion engines, the electric motors and waterpower plants, and the absence of steam machines, bear witness to the downfall of steam. But the great space given to safety devices, to labor-saving machines, to road-making machinery, and to mechanical devices for increasing the comfort of country life, are evidence of the part machinery is coming to play in the task of making life more livable. As an exhibition of modern mechanical invention, Machinery Hall is unique, as all this Exposition is unique. There is almost nothing in it that is not the product of the last ten years; it actually represents construction of the last two years. Indeed, the wholly contemporary nature of the exhibits leaves the visitor without visible means of comparison.

As at the Centennial Exhibition in 1876, a prime mover is the central figure in the building. There it was the immense Corliss steam engine. Here it is a Diesel, started by President Wilson by wireless on the opening day, and generating all the direct current used in the palace. Another commanding exhibit is a 20,000 horsepower hydro-electric generator, significant of the modern use of water-power. The United States Government is the largest exhibitor in the building, with numerous fine models of warships, docks, dams and submarine mines; torpedoes, artillery, armorplate and shells, army equipment, ammunition-making machinery in operation, light-houses and aids to navigation, and a splendid set of models illustrating road-making methods. Crowded out of its proper place in the Palace of Liberal Arts, the exhibit of the printing trades occupies a section here, including a huge color press turning out illustrated Sunday supplements.

The Palace of Mines and Metallurgy offers ample evidence of the great figure which steel now makes in the world, and of the vast extent of the petroleum industry. Here, too, as in Machinery Hall, accident prevention is emphasized. From this point of view insurance exhibits are not out of place here. The United States Steel Corporation, with its subsidiary companies, shows in this palace the largest single exhibit seen in the Exposition, save those of the United States Government. Noteworthy are its excellent models of iron and coal-mining plants, coke ovens. furnaces, rolling mills, docks, ships, and barges, and an extensive section devoted to the welfare of employees, with model playgrounds.

Many states and nations, and many world-famous mining companies are represented by exhibits of ores and metals, of mine models, and mining and metallurgical processes in operation. California shows a gold dredger and a hydraulic mine in operation. The great copper mines of California, Montana, Utah, and Japan, have installed significant exhibits. The United States Government operates in this palace a model mint, a model post office, and features a daily "mine explosion," with a demonstration of rescue work.

The Palace of Transportation places its emphasis on automobiles and roads, electric locomotives and cars, and the mammoth types of modern steam locomotives. All of these exhibits represent construction of the last year, with one exception. The first Central Pacific locomotive stands beside a Mallet Articulated engine, - an enormous contrast. One third of the floor space is filled with steam and electric locomotives and modern cars. Some are sectioned, and operated by electric motors, vividly illustrating the latest mechanical devices. Another third of the palace is devoted to motor cars. The Ford Motor Car Company maintains a factory exhibit in which a continuous stream of Fords is assembled and driven away, one every ten minutes.

Plans for a great exhibit of aeroplanes were destroyed by the war. The Exposition, however, maintains a constant exhibit of the spectacular side of aeronautics in remarkable flights by famous aviators. After Lincoln Beachey was killed in one of these performances, his place was taken by Arthur Smith, who was instantly crowned as a far more dazzling birdman. Two aeroplanes are the only representation in the palace. Steamship companies have erected here sections of their vessels. Railroads make interesting exhibits of scenery along their routes, of safety devices and of railroad accessories. The Canadian Pacific, Grand Trunk Pacific, Great Northern, Southern Pacific, Union Pacific, and Santa Fe systems maintain buildings of their own, exhibiting the scenery, agriculture and other resources of the country through which they pass.

The Palace of Varied Industries illustrates the enormous complexity of modern material needs. Packed with severely selected manufactures, it is made especially interesting by the many processes shown in operation. Cotton and woolen mills, linen looms, knitting machines, machines for weaving fire hose, a shoe-making factory, a broom factory, and many others, are particularly attractive because they are engaged in making familiar articles. The machines in use demonstrate the refinements of present-day manufacturing processes. The factories of many nations are represented in this palace. Germany makes here her largest exhibit, notably of cutlery and pottery.

The Palace of Manufactures differs from the Palace of Varied Industries as a bolt of silk differs from a bale of leather. Yet this general distinction between the finer and the coarser classes of factory products is not rigidly adhered to. The Palace of Manufactures is distinguished by a remarkable exhibit of fine wares by the Japanese, and another of commercial art from Italy. Fortunately this Japanese display is of goods in the ancient style, infinitely more interesting, though less significant, than the extensive exhibits in other palaces of Japanese wares manufactured in competition with Western nations. Most beautiful are the ceramics, the lacquered ware, and the silks. Great Britain is an extensive exhibitor of cutlery, pottery, and textiles. Manufacturing processes are shown in operation in this palace, though less than in the Palace of Varied Industries.

The Palace of Liberal Arts found its six acres of floor space insufficient. The exhibits, forming a remarkable demonstration of the breadth of applied science, embrace electrical means of communication, including wireless telegraphy and telephony, musical instruments, chemistry, photography, instruments of precision and of surgery, theatrical appliances, engineering, architecture, map-making, typography, printing, book-binding, paper manufacture, scientific apparatus, typewriters, coins and medals, and innumerable other articles. A great space is occupied by talking machines "demonstrated" in musical theatres, and by cameras. The American Telegraph and Telephone Company maintains transcontinental telephone connection between its theatre and New York, and gives daily demonstrations. The United States Government has installed a great variety of displays. Most striking, perhaps, is the section from the National Museum, where the most modern methods of exhibition are exemplified in cases containing human groups that are almost real life. The great pipe organ in Festival Hall is classed as one of the exhibits of this palace. Germany, Japan, China, the Netherlands, Uruguay, Cuba, and New Zealand are heavy exhibitors here. Of special interest is the German exhibit of radium and its allied metals.

The Palace of Education and Social Economy contains the special educational exhibits of this Exposition, which itself, as a whole, is a world-university. Its striking features are the great number of official exhibits by states, cities and foreign nations, and the emphasis laid on industrial and vocational education, public health, playgrounds, and the training of abnormal children. An educational exhibit is one of the most difficult to make vivid and interesting to the general public. This palace has succeeded by avoiding duplication. To each state or city was assigned a special problem, as far as possible the one to which it had contributed a noteworthy solution. Thus, Massachusetts shows her vocational methods, while Oregon specializes on rural schools as neighborhood centers. Among the cities, St. Louis devotes most of its space to the educational museum, while Philadelphia emphasizes central high schools. The United States Government supplies a branch of its Children's Bureau, with daily conferences for parents. Among the many instructors who have been engaged to conduct classes in the palace is Dr. Maria Montessori, who is to give a course of lessons based on her famous system. The Philippine exhibit shows that Americans have developed in the Islands a system of practical education which American teachers should study.

The Palace of Agriculture is an instructive presentation of modern farm methods, as well as of raw products of the soil. It shows admirably the great advance in agriculture in the United States, giving due space to the work and influence of the state agricultural colleges. Particularly impressive is the array of farm machinery and the wide application to it of the gasoline motor. After seeing it, one wonders what place is left on the farm for the horse. The fundamental nature of agriculture has brought more states and foreign countries into this palace than are represented in any other. A significant representation is that of the Philippines, an exhibition of enormous natural resources. Its display of fine hardwoods is the finest ever made by any country. Similar exhibits of Argentina and New Zealand are also excellent. Forestry takes a large place in this palace, the United States Government making a big forestry exhibit in addition to the great general display of the Department of Agriculture.

The Palace of Food Products is a temple of the tin can and the food package. It is made one of the most interesting of all the Exposition buildings by its numerous processes in operation. A large part of it is really a factory, turning out before the visitor's eyes the different familiar edibles of the magazine advertisements. A mint of money must have been spent by these exhibitors. A flour company, for example, has installed a complete mill in which flour is manufactured, and then made into many kinds of cakes and pastries by a row of cooks of various nations. A bakery in connection with this mill turns out 400 loaves at a baking. As in every exposition, visitors crowd the booths where edible samples are distributed. After viewing many such scenes, a local humorist dubbed this building "the Palace of Nibbling Arts."

The new idea of co-operation among manufacturers appears in a number of collective exhibits. California wine producers have united in a splendid display, far more impressive than could be made by an individual. The Pacific Coast fisheries have joined in an elaborate exhibit of every sort of tinned fish. The United States Bureau of Fisheries maintains an extensive aquarium of fresh and salt-water fishes. The State of Washington has another, with a salmon hatchery in operation. Modern production of pure food is greatly emphasized. In a building of its own, a Pacific Coast condensed milk concern operates a good-sized factory, using the milk of its herd of pure-bred Holsteins, kept in the Live-Stock section.

The Palace of Horticulture, with its gardens, has been planned with a three-fold purpose, to appeal with equal interest to the tourist, the student, and the business man. Its exhibits by states and foreign nations picture the gardens and orchards of the world. Its factory installations exhibit actual processes of preparing and preserving fruit and vegetable products. Under the great dome are the Cuban and Hawaiian collections of tropical plants and flowers, already described in the chapter on the South Gardens. In the flanking rooms are displays of orchids and aquatic plants. In the main hall Luther Burbank shows his creations. An exhibit of fresh fruits in season is maintained. The gardens outside show plants and shrubs from many states and countries, including the great exhibit of the Netherlands Board of Horticulture.

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