|Lewis & Clark Centennial Overview|
Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition 1905 by Janet Chester Bly
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The Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition* happened June 1 to October 15, 1905 in Portland, Oregon.The theme suggested by the Oregon Historical Society centered on the 100-year celebration of the explorers' Meriwether Lewis and William Clark 1805 crossing the U.S. to the Pacific Ocean. But finances originally spurred the project.
Oregon suffered from the nationwide Long Depression of the 1890's. The state's business leaders tried to devise ideas for boosting their economy. An international fair was suggested and a Board of Directors established with Henry W. Goode as president. Other board members included Portland's wealthiest and most powerful men.
|Lewis & Clark Centennial Lake View|
John Olmstead, the landscape architect, prepared the layout to imitate the "White City" of Chicago's Columbian Exposition of 1893.
The vast majority of the structures overlooked Guild's Lake. A wide staircase led down to the lake and a myriad of amusements. Beyond that scene rose four snow-clad mountain peaks: Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, and Mount Hood. To the west was the Cascade Range through which Lewis and Clark made their trip to the Pacific Coast.
The majority of the buildings resembled Spanish Renaissance style, decorated with flourishes such as ivory
|Lewis & Clark Centennial Federal Bldg|
Other architecture formed the massive colonnade entrance.
|Lewis & Clark Centennial Colonnade Entrance|
Exhibits and ParksExhibits included agriculture, technology, and music themes and featured The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and various other concerts, the Smithsonian Institute, and artist displays such as Claude Monet. An amusement park included a Ferris wheel. The sidewalks teemed with sideshows. There were novelties such as free motion pictures and blimp excursions. Every night fireworks displays lit up the skies.
|Sacajawea in WA Park|
Adjacent to Vaughn Street Park, usually a baseball stadium, the Lewis and Clark Centennial sponsored the National Track and Field Championships. The site also became finish line for nation's first Transcontinental Automobile Race.
Plywood was introduced at the Fair which featured many of the latest innovations of the day. The elaborate, but temporary buildings largely constructed of plaster over wooden frames were eventually dismantled and torn down. Not even Guilds Lake remains today. Over the years it was filled with dirt and covered with industrial buildings.
The major exception to this was the Swiss Chalet-styled Forestry Building dubbed the "World's Largest Log
|Lewis & Clark Centennial Forestry Bldg|
Other buildings still in existence from the fair include the Fairmount Hotel, the American Inn (the only on-site hotel and now converted into condos), and the NCR Building (St. Johns Theater and Pub).
Some controversies surrounding the Lewis and Clark Centennial:* Many of the speakers advocated support of women’s right to vote.
* A Philippines display showed tribal native people preparing and eating dog meat.
• A Chinese exclusion order was discussed.
• In Portland, the Cooks and Waiters Union asked union members to boycott restaurants employing Chinese cooks.
|Lewis & Clark Centennial Oriental Palace|
Vice-President's SpeechOn opening day, Vice President Charles Fairbanks announced a theme for Oregon’s new century.
“The future has much in store for you. Yonder is Hawai’i, acquired for strategic purposes and demanded in the interest of expanding commerce. Lying in the waters of the Orient are the Philippines which fell to us by the inexorable logic of a humane and righteous war. We must not underrate the commercial opportunities which invite us to the ‘Orient.’”
* The official name was Lewis and Clark Centennial American Pacific Exposition and Oriental Fair. The "Oriental Fair" reference added mostly to take advantage of tax shelter providing for trade with the Far East.
For more info about the Lewis and Clark Centennial 1905, check out: The Great Extravaganza: Portland and the Lewis and Clark Exposition (Portland: Oregon Historical Society, 1981)
|Stuart Brannon's Final Shot|