More expositions and events with Halloween and scary themes

Character in Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride experience, one of the attractions of the Transworld Tradeshows LLC Legendary Haunt Tour ( image credit: C. Brielmaier and Rogues Hollow Productions)

Here is the second of two posts on this blog – the first was published on October 20 – which feature exhibitions and experiences with Halloween and scary themes — with an add-in for this post of thoughts on “scaring ourselves for fun.”

On Halloween eve, we just had to share in this space, a link to the ultimate Halloween site; here it is, I Love Halloween.  This site is all about Halloween, not just today, but every day — yep, 365 days a year.  

When you scroll through and spend some time at I Love Halloween, enforced will be just how big are the Halloween and horror and frightening culture, and associated industry, in America.    

Here is something to think about — but, then again, you have probably already thought about it: people like to be scared; yes we do.  

For a Halloween story for the The Atlantic (the story was published on Halloween Day 2013), Allegra Ringo interviewed Dr. Marge Kerr, a college professor, and sociologist who “studies fear.”  Dr. Kerr is the author of Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear (2015, Public Affairs).

Consider this excerpt from the interview, which is published under the title, “Why Do Some Brains Enjoy Fear: The science behind the appeal of haunted houses, freak shows, and physical thrills”:

“Ringo:  ‘What are some early examples of people scaring themselves on purpose?’

“Dr. Kerr:  ‘Humans have been scaring themselves and each other since the birth of the species, through all kinds of methods like storytelling, jumping off cliffs, and popping out to startle each other from the recesses of some dark cave. And we’ve done this for lots of different reasons—to build group unity, to prepare kids for life in the scary world, and, of course, to control behavior. But it’s only really in the last few centuries that scaring ourselves for fun (and profit) has become a highly sought-after experience.'”

No doubt, the business of “scaring ourselves for fun” has become big business.

Think just of horror films.  Then there are haunted houses, haunted farms, haunted corn mazes, haunted pumpkin patches; there are scary video games and scary virtual reality experiences.

Halloween is most celebrated in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.  But far and away it is the U.S. that makes the biggest deal out of Halloween.  That is not to say that we like to be scared more than other countries, because, for sure, much of the Halloween celebrating here is tied more to fun and revelry than anything else.

And, of course, there is money to be made in the “scaring ourselves for fun” business no matter the day of the year, no matter the season, but of course, for the haunted attraction industry Halloween-time is when the money is made.

There are several tradeshows dedicated to frightening and spine-chilling.  Yes, there are a lot companies that make and sell products and services that are needed for haunted and scary enterprises.  Looking to start your own haunted attraction?  There are shows you can attend that where you will find everything you need to operate a great and absolutely terrifying haunted place and experience.  

Indeed, there are companies that specialize and hold a big franchise in shows and events that cater to Halloween and the macabre and spooky and scary.  One of those companies is TransWorld Tradeshows LLC.

TransWorld LLC runs shows for buyers and sellers in the haunted business.  It also operates its own haunted tours.  

Here is the roster of TransWorld Tradeshows properties:  Transworld’s Halloween & Attractions Show, Escape Room City, the Premier Haunted Attractions Tour & Education Series, Room Escape Conference & Tour, the Midwest Haunters Convention, and the Legendary Haunt Tour.

The next TransWorld event scheduled is the Legendary Haunt Tour (LHT).  It will be held from November 9-11 at the Crown Plaza Philadelphia – King of Prussia Hotel, and nearby areas.  Among the attractions of the LHT are Reapers Revenge, Field of ScreamsBates Motel & Haunted Hayride, and the Eastern State Penitentiary Daytime Tour.

Following we take a look at some Halloween season experiences in the U.S. in which the core of those experiences is about scaring and sending a bolt of fear through people.

Orlando is one of the busiest tradeshow cities in the U.S., and the Orlando office of Willwork is one of our busiest.

University Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights is a destination experience for people the world over.   This year is the 27th edition of the scarefest; it opened for the season on September 15 and runs on select nights through November 4.    

Attraction at Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights (image credit: Universal Orlando)

For some helpful insight on what Horror Nights is about, here we share an excerpt from a story,  “Run for your lives… Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights is back, and scarier than ever,” written by British journalist, Pamela Owen, and published October 6 at

“It’s hard to explain the concept of the event if you’ve never been, but Universal’s hugely talented design team create a series of horror houses, or mazes, in the Orlando theme park. You then line up for hours to spend a few minutes walking through the houses and getting scared out of your wits. It might not sound appealing but it really is.

“The rush of adrenalin and buzz you get will leave you thinking about it for hours, if not days, afterwards. Also you’re perfectly safe, because the ‘scareactors’ are under strict instruction not to touch you, and that comes as a huge relief when you’re in the dark, surrounded by flashing lights and confronted with a scene from The Shining.”

Please click here to be taken to the full story.

Let’s travel out to the West Coast, to San Francisco, another big destination city for tradeshows and events, and busy place for Willwork.  We have long operated an office in San Francisco.

Out in the cold waters of San Francisco Bay sits Alcatraz Island, on which is the facility that once housed Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, a prison that resides in American lore as a dark and scary and forbidden place.  Today the penitentiary is a popular tourist attraction.

The San Francisco Dungeon, a company that offers theatrical tours of the city’s “dark and sinful past,” has developed an Alcatraz experience for Halloween.  For $666 (yes, we know, not good, that number) it is offering a Halloween Eve stay is a specially outfitted recreation of an Alcatraz jail cell.    

San Francisco Dungeon’s recreated Alcatraz jail cell (image credit:

“The cell includes four twin beds, pajamas, midnight snacks, and a spooky bedtime story from a ‘dungeon resident,’” writes Kirsten Fawcett, in her story for Mental Floss about this prison-themed experience.  “Breakfast is also provided the next morning, along with a goody bag”  

If you click here you will be taken to the full story, titled, “For $666, You Can Spend Halloween Eve in a Recreated Jail Cell.”

Now we travel back east, stopping in the Midwest,  in Chicago, to the largest haunted house in the city, and one of the scariest in the U.S.

The 13th Floor Haunted House, in the Melrose Park section of the city, was named, for 2017, the third best Haunted Attraction in the U.S. by America Haunts.  

Scary clown at 13th Floor Haunted House (image credit: 13th Floor Haunted House)

Following is a Thrillist Chicago descriptor of the 13th Floor Haunted House:

“With beautifully detailed sets across two separate haunted houses, ‘Cursed: Purgatory’ will have you meandering amongst witches chanting demonic spells while ‘Dead End District: Freakshow’ features shadows of inhuman beasts soundtracked by screams. For an extra scare, stop by November 3 and 4 for “Blackout,” in which your group will try to make your way out of the house in total darkness with nothing but a single glow stick to light the way.”

For 2017, the 13th Floor Haunted House opened on September 22 and is open weekend nights, and select weekday nights, through November 4.

On to the East Coast, to New York City, the center of it all.  

The Merchant’s House Museum in Manhattan is a landmark historic property in Manhattan and is also considered among the most haunted places in all of NYC. 

On the third Friday of each month, January through July, ghost tours are conducted at the Merchant’s House Museum.  During Halloween season, Candlelight Ghost Tours are held at the museum. This year the Candlelight Ghost Tour schedule is 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., with 50-minute tours beginning every half hour, on October 20 and 21, and October 26-30.  All tours sold out. 

Halloween is a major event and a culture and industry booms and revolves around it.    

Merchant’s House Museum (image credit: Merchant’s House Museum)

Then, again, there are businesses that focus on the scary and ghostly and horror all throughout the year.  There is a huge population of people who are into Halloween, and also spooky and frightening, throughout the year as well.   

And it need not be said again, but we will — we like to be scared.


In praise of persistence

(image credit: Truly Happy Life)

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.   The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”



Willwork is a national leader in exhibition services and event project management.  In 2017, we are celebrating 30 years in business.

Harriet Tubman. persistent, courageous (image credit: artist Horatio Seymour Squyer

A quality that we, as a company, esteem and admire highly in people, and in organizations, is that of persistence.    Of staying after something, of facing and surmounting obstacles, of falling down and getting up — of not quitting.

Fundamental to the success of Willwork is that we have been, and are, persistent.

Especially in the early days of Willwork, as we sought to establish ourselves, to sell ourselves — to grow and move beyond being solely a company that provided exhibit installation & dismantle services in the Boston area — we heard a lot of “nos” and knew a lot of rejection and being put off.

And this was all understandable.  Sure, we were doing a great job in Boston.  We were building our reservoir of positive testimonials and good will.  But there were many companies out there against which we competed which had been around for a lot longer than we had, which were far more established, and which did very good work.

If we weren’t persistent, if we did not pursue a game plan of smart and strategic growth, we wouldn’t have nearly approached the success and achievement we have known.

It is worthwhile, it is valuable … and inspiring … to take a look at examples of extraordinary and exceptional persistence.   To that end, today, in this space, we are doing just that.


We need to start out with a hall of famer in persistence – and also in courage and dignity.

The hall of famer?  That would be Harriet Tubman — the “Moses of Her People.”

Born into slavery in Maryland, probably in the year 1822, Harriet Tubman became one of the most successful “conductors” on the Underground Railroad, the secret route of roads and paths and safe houses that slaves, sometimes with the help of abolitionists, used to escape from slave states and make their way to freedom in states in the North, and Canada.

While an enslaved field hand, Tubman endured horrific abuse, including repeated beatings.  In 1849, she escaped to Philadelphia, and to freedom, leaving behind her husband and family.  But Harriet Tubman was not content to secure freedom for herself – no, no, no – for she felt and observed a calling, one to which she responded … time after time … and one that would … time after time … place her life at risk.

As explained at, “Despite a bounty on her head, she returned to the South at least 19 times to lead her family and hundreds of other slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad. Tubman also served as a scout, spy and nurse during the Civil War.”

It seems that Harriet Tubman is now the frontrunner emerging in discussions in Washington, D.C., as to who will be selected as the first woman to become the “face” on a paper bill of American currency.  Proposed, with strong backing, is that Tubman replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill, with Jackson represented on the back of the bill.

Please click here to be taken to the full biography of Harriet Tubman at


Thomas Alva Edison ranks at the top of the list of the most successful and brilliant inventors, and successful industrialists, in history.  He is also the poster child for persistence.

Thomas Alva Edison (image credit: Louis Bachrach, Bachrach Studios; restored by Michel Vuijlsteke)

Nicknamed the “Wizard of Menlo Park” – with Menlo Park, NJ the site of Edison’s home and research lab – Edison’s toil and intelligence, and way of looking at the world, resulted in 1,093 U.S. patents alone, not including those he held other countries.

Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on Edison in which is described his enduring influence:

“More significant than the number of Edison’s patents was the widespread impact of his inventions: electric light, power utilities, sound recording, and motion pictures all established major new industries worldwide. Edison’s inventions contributed to mass communication and, in particular, telecommunications. These included a stock ticker, a mechanical vote recorder, a battery for an electric car, electrical power, recorded music and motion pictures.   His advanced work in these fields was an outgrowth of his early career as a telegraph operator.   Edison developed a system of electric-power generation and distribution to homes, businesses, and factories – a crucial development in the modern industrialized world.”

This influence did not come easy – not at all.  Edison failed over and over.  Then, again, maybe not.

Edison famously reflected:  “I have not failed.  I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Thomas Alva Edison, also noted, just as famously:  “Genius is one percent inspiration, and 99 percent perspiration.”


J.K. Rowling (image credit: Scholastic, Barnes & Noble)

J.K. Rowling is an all-star in persistence.  Consider the following entry on Rowling which is found at the website Being Encouraged.

“J.K. Rowling- The famous Harry Potter author became a single-mother after enduring a failed marriage and also losing her mother. She was diagnosed with clinical depression and reportedly contemplated suicide. Before finishing the first book of the Harry Potter series, she was barely surviving on welfare. After she finished the book, she submitted to twelve different publishing houses but was rejected by all of them. It wasn’t until a year later when a small London-based publishing company gave her a chance that she became the author we’ve come to revere.”

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published in 1997.  It would be the first in a series of six Harry Potter books that would all become mega worldwide bestsellers.”

The Wikipedia entry on the series provides the following data on the success of the Hatter Potter series:

“As of May 2013, the books have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide, making them the best-selling book series in history, and have been translated into seventy-three languages.   The last four books consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history, with the final installment selling roughly eleven million copies in the United States within twenty-four hours of its release. “

Of course, beyond the books, Harry Potter has become a powerhouse entertainment franchise, encompassing films, games, theme parks, and the stage.

J.K. Rowling continues to write, and continues to create brilliant and bestselling art.


Following redshirting the 1993 season, Kurt Warner was a backup quarterback for the next three seasons at the University of Northern Iowa, an NCAA 1-AA school located in Cedar Falls.   He got his chance to start as a senior, and he made good – leading the Panthers to an 8-3 record and a playoff berth.  He was named the Gateway Offensive Conference Player of the Year.

Undrafted, he had a tryout with the Green Bay Packers, and was cut.   Warner returned to Cedar Falls where he stocked shelves in a grocery store for $5.50 an hour, and was an assistant coach with the Northern Iowa football team.

He didn’t give up on his dream.

Sports Illustrated cover featuring Kurt Warner in 2000 Super Bowl (image credit: Sports Illustrated)

Warner received an opportunity to play in the Arena Football League, and he lit it up, putting up huge numbers, and becoming one of the league’s premier players.   His play caught the attention of the St. Louis Rams, which signed him to a contract for the 1997 season.  St. Louis held his rights when he spent the 1998 season in NFL Europe where he led the league in passing.

Warner was the third-string quarterback for the Rams for the 1998 season.  During the 1999 preseason, Warner was second on the depth chart to starter Trent Green.  When Green tore his ACL in preseason, Warner became the Rams starter.

The 1999-2000 campaign saw Kurt Warner and the Rams conduct a clinic, setting a slew of offensive records, and finishing the season with Super Bowl victory, beating the Tennessee Titans, 23-16, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.  Warner was named MVP of the game.

Over the next nine season, Warner continued as one of the NFL’s premier quarterbacks.  He started in two more Super Bowls, with both those starts for teams that lost the game narrowly.

Warner’s holds many NFL passing records.  During his NFL career, he was named All Pro four times.

Kurt Warner was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 5, 2017.


Wiillwork hopes you have enjoyed this treatise on, and ode to, persistence.

Willwork will always be a company that faithfully practices this virtue

And we recognize, beyond the importance of persistence in being successful in the exhibitions services and event project management industry, its importance in achieving and accomplishing in all areas of life.

For we believe, as President Coolidge so accurately and correctly reflected, that, “The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”


The Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo – And The Electric And Rainbow City

Here is the third installment in a series of posts on world’s fairs and world’s expositions that will run periodically on Insights. The first two posts in this series were features on, respectively, the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations and World’s Columbian Exposition.

 “That century that has now begun may unite in the bonds of peace, knowledge, friendship, and noble emulation of all the dwellers on the continents and islands of the New World.”

Inscription, by American poet RICHARD WATSON GILDER, on the propylaea at the entrance of the Pan-American Exposition

Buffalo, today, enjoys a resurgence. It is revitalization overdue. There is a lot going on in the “Queen City of the Great Lakes.”

Then, again, for too long, broadly, in our land, Buffalo has been the subject of ridicule and unkind jest.

Buffalo is thought of across America as cold and economically depressed, and tied to that NFL team, the Buffalo Bills, which frequently does well, but never grabs the ring. Buffalo is something of a meteorological curiosity, with its preposterous inches of snowfall, and its images of towering snowbanks transmitted on TV.

Yet, of course, the story of Buffalo and its history is long and broad and anchored in the Industrial Revolution.  Buffalo was a central player in the growth and establishment of the United States as commercially and culturally relevant on a global scale.

Buffalo was a metropolis of extraordinary and highly visible wealth.

In the later stages of the Industrial Revolution, the city held – and still holds today – a great trove of art and design.

The city knew a long episode of manufacturing and commercial greatness and prominence.

As well, recognize that two citizens of the city became president of the United States: Millard Fillmore and Grover Cleveland.

And that Niagara Falls is, relatively, Buffalo’s next-door neighbor is not touted enough nor nearly as widely appreciated as it should be.

Buffalo’s establishment and rise, and fall, and stagnation, and comeback, is a parable of water and shipping and electricity.

Buffalo became a great city not long after 1825, the year that the Erie Canal – arguably the most significant and extraordinary construction project and engineering feat of the 19th Century – opened, and for the first time provided the nation with a continuous waterway, navigable by ships, between the Atlantic (via the upper Hudson River near Albany) and what was then Middle America.

The western-most port along the 400-mile canal is Buffalo.

Not only was the canal a commercial boon, it was also a busy conduit for migration west.  “Settling the west” owed much to the Erie Canal.

When, in the 1850s, the rich veins of iron ore – the raw material for steel production – in the Appalachians and Upper Midwest started to be mined enmass, Buffalo was in a strategically advantageous position. It was close to the ore, and it held a vital shipping location. Metropolitan Buffalo became a steel manufacturing center.

Buffalo also emerged as the number one grain port in the world.

With the Erie Canal, grain from the Midwest bound for the East Coast and Europe no longer had to be hauled long stretches over land and then transported on barges down the Mississippi, or other rivers, to New Orleans where the grain was transferred to ocean vessels.

Still, even when shipping grain over the Erie Canal, the process was highly time consuming, costly, and labor intensive – for it was a process in which grain-carrying lake boats, which were too big to continue east on the shallower and narrower stretch of the canal, arrived in Buffalo, and then needed to be manually unloaded and the cargo then manually loaded on to other ships.

Innovation transformed the operation when Joseph Dart, a Buffalo merchant, invented the first grain elevator, which mechanized the unloading, storage, and uploading of grain.

Soon a signature aspect of the Buffalo skyline were grain elevators. By 1863 the Buffalo waterfront had 27 grain elevators.

Buffalo’s proximity to Niagara Falls – which in 1886 first had its rushing volumes of water harnessed to generate electricity, and which had grown increasingly and rapidly as hydro-electric power source – enabled it to be the first American city to have street lights, as well as an urban pioneer in the expanse and prevalence of lighting and electric power.

Buffalo took on the nickname, “The City of Light.”

It was a city that held buildings designed by Henry Hobson Richardson — who, along with Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, are known today as the “Trinity of American Architects – and parks planned by Frederick Law Olmsted, the Father of American Landscape Architecture.

(Starting in 1902, several Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings and structures would be constructed in Buffalo.)

In the late 1800s, Buffalo claimed to have the most footage of paved streets on earth.

On the cusp of the 20th Century, Buffalo – particularly its civic and business leaders – felt confident and proud of the city.

To a particular and ambitious and well-heeled coterie of this group, it made sense for Buffalo to make a play for international prominence in developing and presenting a proposal to host a world’s fair

And, why not, this is what America had been doing. It was expected of her. Europe, the Old World, had led with global expositions in which it showed off its technology and culture and advanced civilization.

Actually, the advent of what would be called the “industrialization” world’s fairs was the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations  – aka “The Great Exhibition” – held London in 1851.

America jumped in to the competition and celebrations with the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations that New York City hosted in 1853.

Industrial world’s fairs that followed were, in order, the International of 1862, or Great London Exhibition; the Centennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876; the Exposition Universelle of 1889 in Paris; the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893; and Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris.

On the cusp of the 20th Century, America continued to assert itself; it continued to grow and to invent and to develop and create and build.

Indeed, as the Buffalo powers-that-be convened, in America – especially in its industrial Northeast – it was the Gilded Age, an era that had commenced about 1870.

It was Mark Twain who assigned the age its moniker, with his 1873 novel, The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today.”

Mr. Twain knew an America, one he artfully described in the book, as one of great industrial progress, wealth building, majestic material consumption, and job opportunity for skilled workers – yet beneath that socio-economic gilding was broad-ranging racial and ethnic prejudice and injustices, and far-reaching and crushing poverty for millions of Americans.


Those Buffalo business and civic leaders planning to make a successful pitch for their city, knew that they would work with a general theme and mission of the exposition that had already been agreed upon an established – Pan Americanism.

Whatever city or region landed the fair would host the Pan-American Exposition.

A movement had been growing in the latter part of the 19th century to forge a more cooperative relationship among all nations in North America and South America.

In 1889, in Washington D.C., established was the Bureau of the Americas, a diplomatic organization, comprised of representatives from countries in the two continents.

Immediately after the Chicago world’s fair, the Bureau started planning a Pan-American exposition.

In 1897, the Pan-American Exposition Company was formed.

The Pan-American Exposition would celebrate the United States and its greatness, its growth, its technology, its advancing culture. It would also host the exhibits and presentations from republics throughout the Americas. An exposition of international cooperation and comity would be this event.

(As it would result, though, exposition organizers would be far more inviting and solicitous of nations to the south of the U.S., and they would be to Canada. It was a snub and lack of courtesy that was widely publicized among the population of the U.S.’s neighbor to the north.)

Actually the Pan-American Exposition was originally scheduled to be held at Niagara Falls – more precisely, at Cayuga Island, an island in the Niagara River and upstream from Niagara Falls. But when war broke out with Spain in April 1898 the fair was put on hold.

In July of 1898, while war with Spain was ongoing, U.S. Congress pledged $500,000 (about $14.5 million in 2016 dollars) to support operations of a Pan-American exposition.

When the conflict with Spain ended in American victory on August 12, fewer than four months after the commencement of the conflict, efforts started up again to plan and fund the fair.

With the Buffalo contingent, bolstered by strong local public support (including financial), making an effective case, the Queen City of the Great Lakes became a viable alternative to Niagara Falls.

Competition between Buffalo and Niagara Falls was intense.

Buffalo won out largely because of its direct links and connections to railroad lines which availed 40 million people the ability to reach the city within a day’s time.

In a booklet produced by the organizers of the exposition, it was explained that, “There are more people who live within a day’s journey of Buffalo, than of any other place in the Western Hemisphere.”

As well, Buffalo, with 350,000 residents, was the nation’s eighth largest city by population.

Grounds Layout for the Pan-American Exposition

Within Buffalo, chosen for the site for the fair, were 350 acres of Rumsey Farm, a primarily flat and barren piece of land that abutted the beautiful Delaware Park, which was designed by Olmsted.

The basics of the grounds layout plan of the Fair is described in this excerpt from the Pan-American Exposition section of the website Buffalo History Works:

The general plan of the grounds was that of an inverted “T” with the cross arm being the Esplanade extending east and west, and terminating at the Propylaea.  The Court of Fountains was in the center of the vertical stem and starting from its four corners was the beginning of the main group of large buildings.

Fair organizers understood that while their plans for exposition grounds could not extend into Olmsted’s Delaware Park – meaning no changes or modifications of the park could be made – what could be done is to extend into the expo grounds elements of Delaware Park’s pastures, its gentle rolls and curves of paths and walkways, its ponds, lack of strict edges and boundaries, and the delicate tie between nature and human imagination.

To achieve that extension of crafted nature, the fair designers made ample use of waterways and paths that were bordered with trees and shrubs and rustic gardens.

Buildings and Structures

“An artistic composition” is how John Carrère, Chairman of the Board of Architects of the Pan-American Exposition, described his vision of what the meeting of the fair’s landscape and buildings and structures would create.

The form and design of the buildings and structures represented a fundamental shift from the neoclassical style and chalky white color of the Columbian Exposition.

It was a new century, and the exposition was a celebration of America and its industry and culture, and also of the promise of a sunlit future.

Visitors to the Pan-American Exposition would tour not the White City and strict incorporation of classical antiquity of Chicago eight years prior – but a venue that was planned in a style that was Renaissance married to elements of Gothic – and which was expressed in many colors of many shades and hues, and which integrated and allowed for individual national character.

The Pan-American Exposition was more modern … and even ethnic … in look.

Almost all the buildings of the Pan-American Exposition were intended to be temporary. They were largely made of frames of iron and wood slats over which was spread a substance called staff – a mixture of plaster, gypsum, and hemp.

Although the structures were temporary, the materials and methods used to construct them allowed extensive opportunity for creativity in design and style.

Overseeing the development of colors and painting of the buildings was
C.Y. Turner, who had been Assistant Director of Decoration for the World’s Columbian Exposition. Mr. Turner’s title for the Pan-American Exposition was, most fittingly, Director of Color.

There was extensive and detailed practice and experimentation on painting a miniature model of the exposition to find the desired mix, blend, integration, and color tones.

Among the 90 structures and buildings constructed for the Pan-American Exposition, among the most prominent were the following:

  • The Triumphal Bridge (architect: John M. Carrére): Magnificent and grandiose in decoration, it spanned the Grand Canal. It also was the path from the Fore Court to the Esplanade.

As described at the “A Souvenir of the Pan American Exposition “ section of the website The Buffalo History Works, the Triumphal Bridge was a “splendid gateway” of “four gigantic piers, upon which mounted standard bearers hold aloft the national emblem, and about the bases are trophies of peace and war, and numerous other pieces of statuary, each expressing some phase of national greatness.”

  • The Electric Tower: Designed by John Galen Howard, the all-star edifice, of the Pan-American Exposition – a 395-foot beacon of electricity and light. At the pinnacle of the tower was a golden-colored figurine, The Goddess of Light, which was set up on a cupola.

At night, 44,000 bulbs illuminated the tower, and contained within the cupola was a powerful and roving searchlight that cast a powerful beam at a slightly downward angle. At the base of the Tower ran a waterfall into a basin that extended perpendicularly from the Tower, and in which were embedded cascades and fountains.

  • Electricity Building (architects: firm of Green & Wicks): Within this building was the transformer that converted incoming electricity from Niagara Falls into forms that could be used for lighting the fair, and other means.  As well, in the Electricity Building there was a telephone switchboard staffed with operators.
  • S. Government Buildings: There were three of these buildings. Across these three buildings were represented the departments of the War and Navy, Post Office, Agriculture, Treasury, and State Department
  • Machinery and Transportation Building: A showcase for recent invention and innovation, including in the areas of the manufacture of bicycles, automobiles, heavy machines, and steam engines. B. Green (a partner in Green & Wicks) designed this building.
  • Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building: Exhibited were the products that mills and factories manufactured. Food and food production exhibits were featured in this building.
  • Agriculture: At a time in America in which close to 40 % of the U.S. labor force was engaged in farming (compared to less than 1 % today) – and, with that percentage significantly higher in all other countries participating in the exposition, save Canada – in this building (designed by George Shepley) farmers viewed exhibits that displayed and explained labor-saving farm innovation and technology, and methods to improve growing of crops.
  • Ethnology Building: Housed exhibits on Native American history, and the lives of people from world regions that had remained undeveloped.  (Please see, further down, more discussion about the Ethnology Building in the section “On Matters of Race and a Changing Society.)
  • Horticulture: A big draw of this building were the variety of fruits and vegetables, available for tasting and sampling, from many of the countries participating in the Exposition. This building housed a large refrigerator plant.
  • The Mines Building: Exhibited in The Mines Building (architect: Robert Swain Peabody) were the tools and devices of mining and metallurgy
  • The Temple of Music: Within this building, designed by August Esenwein, was an auditorium that could seat 2,200. A central feature and utility in The Temple of Music was one of the biggest pipe organs that had, to that date, been built in the U.S.
  • New York State Building: George Cary designed this building, which was intended as the only permanent building of the exposition. Grecian-Temple in style, and made of white marble, today it is the home of the
    Buffalo Historical Society.
  • The Stadium: This stadium was modeled on the style, and was a scaled down version, of the venue in which were contested the original Olympiads in Ancient Greece.  Many different types of amateur and professional sport competitions were held in the expo stadium. Also held in the stadium – which was 680-feet long and 450-feet wide, and had a seating capacity of 12,000 – was Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
  • The Art Building: Exhibited within were beautiful works of painting and sculpture.
  • State and Foreign Buildings: On display and presented within were the industries and cultures of states, a U.S. territory, and Pan-American countries. State buildings were Alaska, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio. There was also a New England building. Puerto Rico, a new (1898) U.S. territory had a building. Countries with buildings were Canada, Ecuador, Honduras, and Mexico.

To access more comprehensive information on Pan-American Exposition buildings, please click here to be taken to a section of an area at the University of Buffalo website where is maintained an excellent and highly valuable database of research, commentary, articles, and scholarship on the exposition

Sculpture widely adorned and vastly populated the exposition, including 500 statues.

It was all beautiful and awesome – the buildings and the landscape … and the colors.

And it would be the bringing together and wedding of architecture and design and color – with monstrous voltages of efficiently flowing electricity, allowing for a galaxy and constellations of light – that resulted in a transcendent and historic aesthetic.

The Electric and Rainbow Cities

The Pan-American Exposition opened its doors on Wednesday, May 1, 1901. Admission cost for that day, as it would be on every other day but Sunday, was 50 cents ($7.00 in 2017 dollars). On Sundays, admission dropped to 25 cents.

Visitors entered a metropolis within a city.

It was a city described with an artful palette of colors across the exposition, and multiple colors and light and electricity forging powerful and engaging energy and optics which commanded and compelled that the Pan-American exposition would be nicknamed The Rainbow City.

Yet prior to The Rainbow City there was The Electric City – and the Electric City was Buffalo.

A precursor to The Rainbow City had to be The Electric City.


Power from the rush of water at Niagara Falls first started generating electricity some 16 years prior to the Pan-American Exposition. Yet it would not be until 1895, with the opening of the Edward Dean Adams Power Plant at the falls, that it became possible to harness this electricity on a grand scale and send it the 22 miles to Buffalo in a form that could be used to burn lights and move streetcars and power other operations.

That the electricity produced at Niagara Falls could, for the first time, travel to Buffalo was primarily owed to the mountainous genius of the Serbian scientist and engineer Nikola Tesla. For it was Tesla who developed the plans – plans on which the generators at the Adams Plant were based – to produce alternating current (AC) electricity, a form that allows for electricity to travel great distances and be modulated into different power voltages.

Alternating current and its use to power Rainbow City is a milestone in what is called the “Battle of Currents” or “War of Currents,” which pitted AC against Direct Current (DC), with Tesla the general for AC and Thomas Edison the standard bearer for DC.

The city of Buffalo, and the Pan American Exposition, were the earliest beneficiaries of the alternating current electricity that flowed from Niagara Falls.

Alternating current powered the lights – including almost a quarter-of-million eight-watt bulbs – and colors of the Pan-American Exposition.

And about those lights and those colors – they were employed to tell a visual and insensitive story of the transition and improvement of man from the uncivilized to the civilized.

On the outer edges of the exposition the buildings were lit with harsh reds and oranges, intended to express barbarism and savagery; traveling further and further into the fair the colors became quieter and more pale until one arrived at the Electric Tower – again, the signature edifice of the event – one whose primary luminescence was creamy white with blue and gold trim, the hue of modern civilization.

Light and color and electricity were, therefore, put to work to tell a story that was in parts racist and in parts xenophobic.

On Matters of Race and a Changing Society

In 2001, a Buffalo civic group, multiracial in makeup, ran a centennial commemoration of the Pan-American Exposition.  Given strong attention and openly discussed in the centennial event were the expressions and displays of racial stereotypes and insensitivity at the exposition.

Yes, for sure, this unhappy and negative aspect of the fair is mentioned and discussed in histories of Pan-American Exposition.  This aspect is also … frequently … not addressed.

The Pan-American Exposition was held 46 years after the end of the Civil War, the costliest in lives lost in the nation’s history.

It was held 11 years after the slaughter of 300 of the Lakota people at Wounded Knee, SD, and as skirmishes between Native Americans and the U.S. Army continued.

At the Pan-American Exposition, in the Exposition Building there were exhibits that played up and promoted the notion of people of different color, living in far off lands, being barbarians and savages.

There was The Old Plantation, a depiction of an antebellum cotton plantation in which blacks and whites lived in harmony with each other. In the African Village exhibit there was, as Exposition literature describes, a “collection of some 35 different African native tribes with their supremely ancient weapons, household gods and primitive handicraft.”

Depictions and treatments of Native Americans were insensitive.

Geronimo, the great Apache leader, was transported from his federal imprisonment in Oklahoma to the Pan-American Exposition where he was among the fair’s biggest draws.

Members of Native American tribes from the American Plains were brought in to participate in reenactments of battles against Union troops, with the Indians losing yet again.

Yet, as well, the Pan-American Exposition evidenced progress on matters of race.

An example of this progress is that, in a break from the practices of world’s fairs that had preceded it … and many that would follow … the Pan-American Exposition gave a platform and forum for Latin American countries to hold their own events and to produce their own exhibits.

Innovation on Display and on Exhibit at the Pan-American Exposition

The use of electricity at the Pan-American Exposition was central and fundamental to the success of the fair, and was its ongoing most impressive exhibit of invention and innovation.

The University of Buffalo maintains an excellent online database of research, commentary, articles, and scholarship on the Pan-American Exposition.

Following is an excerpt from an article, archived at the University of Buffalo database, titled, “How to See the Pan-American Exposition,” by Mary Bronson Hartt, in which is described the omniscience and prominence of electricity at the fair:

This is an electric exposition; the electrical exhibits cannot be contained in a single building; they are everywhere. Niagara power drives the trolley which carries you to the grounds; turns the wheels of the countless machines in Machinery Hall; whirls the electric fans which cool the theatres in the Midway; illuminates the cycloramas and other electrical effects and illusions; makes possible the powerful search-light on the Electric Tower which sends signals to Toronto ; glows in the blended colors of the Electric Fountain, and blossoms in a whole firmament of electric stars which make up the glory of the Pan-American illumination. All this makes of supreme interest a modest little working-model of the Niagara Power House, near the western end of the Electricity Building. A portion of the outer wall is removed to allow you to see the wheel-pit and penstocks, and the turbines spinning in the rush of water, revolving the humming dynamos in the power-house above.

Please click here to read the full article, published in the October 1901 issue of Everybody’s Magazine.

Other newly developed technologies on display were the portable x-ray machine; the electrograph, which was a device that transmitted pictures over a wire; a voting machine; a typesetting machine; improved phonograph; and infant incubators, with real infants inside.

Indeed, and we make mention of it again, that the great world’s fairs and industrial expositions were kin and ancestors of the tradeshows and exhibitions of today.

These expositions were prominent and high-profile, and effective, methods and venues for companies, countries, and states to tell the stories and advertise and brag about their achievements.

And, for sure, the Pan-American Exposition was an extravaganza worthy of much  storytelling, advertising, and bragging.  It was an event fully worthy of the moniker of world’s fair.

Yet the Pan-American Exposition and its remembrance in posterity, would be one cloaked in darkness and tragedy.

For it was on the grounds of the Pan-American Exposition that the president of the United States was murdered.

Assassination of the President

On September 5, President William McKinley, immensely popular and in his second term as chief executive of the republic, began a scheduled two-day four of the fair.  A crowd of 116,000 attended a day-time speech he delivered in the big open-air stadium

President McKinley’s speech included these words:

Expositions are the timekeepers of progress. They record the world’s advancements. They stimulate the energy, enterprise, and intellect of the people,  and quicken human genius. They go into the home. They broaden and brighten  the daily life of the people.

That night there was a massive fireworks display in his honor, which culminated with the pyrotechnics spelling out, ““Welcome President McKinley, Chief of our Nation and Our Empire.”

After the fireworks, the president and First Lady, Ida McKinley, were taken to Milburn House, the stately and expansive home of Pan-American Exposition president John G. Milburn, where they would spend the evening.

The next afternoon, the president made an appearance – a meet-and-greet – at the Temple of Music.

Among those standing in the receiving line, and moving closer to the president, was Leon Czologosz, a 28-year old mentally unstable man who was driven and consumed with the belief that government was to blame for injustice and socio-economic inequality. Mr. Czologosz identified the president as the leader of a great system of oppression.

Leon Czogolosz had traveled from his home in Ohio to Buffalo with the intent of assassinating President McKinley.

As he neared the president, Leon Czologosz had concealed beneath a handkerchief in his right hand a .32 caliber revolver. The handkerchief appeared as a bandage over a wound.

When Mr. Czogolosz made it to the front of the line, a little after 4 p.m., the president reached to shake his hand. Mr. Czogolosz slapped the hand away, and pointed the gun at the president’s midsection, and fired twice. One bullet deflected off the President McKinley’s rib cage and did no damage. The other bullet tore through the president’s stomach, kidney, and pancreas, before settling in his back.

Doctors immediately attended, on site, to the president. A tragic irony ensued in that on the property of a world’s fair which touted and celebrated the wonders and modernity of electricity, those physicians who first treated the president did so without the assistance of electric light, for the Temple of Music was not wired for electricity.

Almost as soon as the president was shot, a telegraph message was sent to Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital, to the renowned surgeon, Dr. Roswell Park, chair of the University of Buffalo Medical School’s Department of Surgery.  Dr. Park was in the middle of a surgery.  On hearing that President McKinley had been shot, Dr. Park finished the operation and jumped on a train that took him back to the exposition.

Word was also dispatched to Vice President Theodore Roosevelt, who was vacationing in Vermont.  The vice president immediately set out for Buffalo.

President McKinley was transferred to the exposition hospital. After an evaluation – conducted without electric light – it was determined that surgery could not wait until Dr. Park arrived; it had to be done immediately.  Chosen to perform the operation was Dr. Matthew Mann, a gynecologist and obstetrician.

Approximately an hour to the minute after the president was shot, Dr. Mann began the surgery, with the benefit of the illumination of a rigged up electric bulb.

In an attempt to locate the bullet, fairly invasive was the investigation of the 58-year-old president’s abdominal cavity.  During the surgery, an aide to the president sent out a request to have the x-ray machine at the fair brought to the expo hospital.  The machine was not sent, however, as the medical team assessed that using the machine might cause undue stress on the president, and that the x-ray may not prove of much value even if taken.  Dr. Mann, not able to find the bullet, cleaned the wound and sewed up the incision with black thread.

In early evening, President McKinley, awake, was transferred in an electric ambulance to Fuller House.

Over the next few days, the president seemed to rally.  He was awake and conversational.  Doctors were optimistic – so much so that on September 9, Vice President Roosevelt left for the Adirondacks to continue his vacation.

Yet the president did not continue to rally; he became sicker and started to fade.  Gangrene, a bacterial infection, grew along the path of the bullet and poisoned the president’s blood.  By the morning of September 13, it had become obvious that the president would not survive his wound.  Vice President Roosevelt was summoned from the Adirondacks.  President McKinley recognized that he was dying, and said to those at his bedside, “It is useless, gentleman.  I think we ought to have a prayer.”

At 2:15 in the morning on September 14 President McKinley died.

While still in the Adirondacks, Mr. Roosevelt was informed of the death of President McKinley.  The vice president took a train to Buffalo and was sworn in as the 26th president of the United States.  In that he took the oath of office at 42 years old, Theodore Roosevelt became (and remains) the youngest president in U.S. history.


Within about year and half following the closing of the Pan-American Exposition, the buildings and edifices of the fair had been almost totally demolished.

An effort to raise sufficient money to preserve the Electric Tower was unsuccessful; however, the design of the structure served as a prototype for the Electric Tower in downtown Buffalo, which opened in 1912.

When the exposition concluded, the New York State Building became the headquarters of the Buffalo Historical Society (renamed the Buffalo History Museum).  In the 1987 the home of the Buffalo History Museum was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Today the property on which the Pan-American Exposition was held is a mix of residences and small businesses.


 It cannot be ignored that the legacy of the Pan-American Exposition – a world’s fair that was exceptional, grand, magnificent, and awe-inspiring in so many ways – is tarnished by the assassination of President William McKinley.

Yet it is only proper that the great achievements … and they are great … of the Pan-American Exposition, and the contributions of the City of Buffalo to those achievements … be remembered and celebrated and chronicled.

And is fitting, and it is a major public service, that so much scholarship and civic effort and resources are committed to remembering and documenting and telling the story of the Pan-American Exposition.

This memory, this history, this knowledge, is a catalyst and serves as emotional energy and inspiration for Buffalo, and all of Metropolitan Buffalo, as this urban area continues its resurgence.

 Recommended for further reading, The Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City:  Spectacle and Assassination at the 1901 World’s Fair (2016, W.W. Norton & Company) by Margaret Creighton, and the website “Doing the Pan … “. 






How Cool Is This? Employing Neuroscience to Make Exhibits More Engaging, More Eye-catching

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services is a national leader in exhibition services and event project management.

In 2017, we are celebrating our 30th year in business.

A primary reason for our success is our commitment to innovating and inventing, which includes placing a strong emphasis on smarter and more effective ways to use technology to provide our clients with value and competitive advantage.

Willwork and its team even considers itself a bit techie/nerdy/wonkish.

Nick Cave Soundsuits

Nick Cave Soundsuits in the Seamans Gallery at Peabody Essex Museum (photograph by Kathy Tarantola, courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum)

Indeed, here on this blog we are inclined to discuss technology as it relates to exhibits and events and tradeshows.

You know, then, it would have had to capture our attention when we saw making news that the world famous Peabody Essex Museum (P.E.M.) in Salem, MA has, as described in a May 7 Boston Globe story, taken “what is being hailed as an unprecedented step in the museum world: hiring a neuroscientist to help apply the tenets of modern brain science to enhance the museum-going experience.”

Indeed, Willwork – beyond the exhibit halls and convention centers – works in some of the nation’s most respected and renowned museums and cultural institutions.

Our skilled trades personnel are entrusted with the care and handling of  precious artifacts and priceless historical items.

So, yeah, what is going on at P.E.M. has Willwork interested.

The neuroscientist whom the Peabody Essex Museum hired is Dr. Vidette “Tedi” AsherDr. Asher earned a B.A. in biology from Swarthmore College and a PhD in neurobiology/Biology and Medical Sciences from Harvard Medical School.

Here is another excerpt from the Boston Globe article:

Asher’s initial one-year appointment is part of a broader strategy at the Peabody Essex, which over the next five years will completely redesign its galleries, incorporating neuroscience to devise multisensory exhibitions, unexpected gallery spaces, stories, and interactive features to heighten audience engagement.

As part of the neuroscience initiative, which is funded by a $130,000 grant from the Barr Foundation, Asher will meet periodically with an advisory group of brain scientists and work closely with museum staff as they plan exhibitions. She will also write a publication that summarizes the museum’s findings and serves as a guide for future programming.

Please click here to be taken to the full story, “Peabody Essex Museum hires neuroscientist to enhance visitor experience,” by Malcolm Gay.

Newsweek reported on the pioneering hire in a May 17 story, “Art and the Brain: Museum Near Boston Hires Neuroscientist to Transform Visitors’ Experience,” by Stav Ziv.

Actually, even prior to the P.E.M. hire of Tedi Asher, making big news was that the museum had won the $130,000 Boston-based Barr Foundation grant.

P.E.M. winning of the grant was featured in a March 17 New York Times story, “How to Get the Brain to Like Art,” by Jess Bidgood.

Of course, in that an event or development gets hyped in the press and receives popular attention does not necessarily mean that that event, that development, is a positive for society or education or culture, or that it is important to business and commerce.

But, most certainly, the neuroscience and neuroscientist at the Peabody Essex Museum is important, revolutionary, truly next generation – and will improve how exhibits and exhibitions educate and enrich and entertain the mind and senses.

Willwork will surely stay tuned.

Expect more on this blog about the Peabody Essex Museum neuroscience project – and on how science is integrated into and enlisted in the way that images and art are shown, products are displayed, stories are told, and brands are established and strengthened.

Growing Your Trade Show From Niche to Mainstream

At one point in time even the largest events were starving for attention. But what happens when the trade show organizer finally has all eyes on his or her every move?

Scaling a trade show from small to large or niche to mainstream isn’t as simple as adding a few extra chairs and staffers—organizers must have a strategy backing their decisions.

Don’t panic
What once was a few hundred interested attendees has now turned into thousands of registrations on your website. Well done—you’ve grown your event from a lesser-known get together to something industry professionals are circling on their calendars. But with that success comes the responsibility of scaling your trade show in line with expectations.

First thing’s first—don’t panic. A sound strategy is all that’s needed to move your event from the shadows and into the spotlight with ease.

EventBrite reported that organizers should first vet any new registrants, especially if they’re hosting a free event. If space is limited, you don’t want to necessarily give out space to those who won’t utilize it best. While you’ll want to be able to get everyone in the doors, if spatial limitations dictate otherwise then you should restrict attendance to industry professionals.

Another option is to scale attendance with exhibitors, the news source reported. Turning a one-day event into a two-day extravaganza is a great way to entertain a crowd of any size. Just be sure you have enough organizations to present on both days.

Trade show organizers can lead event growth with a sound strategy.Trade show organizers can lead event growth with a sound strategy.

Pick the right venue
In this day and age of business and leisure, many professionals can get used to an event being hosted in one location. This leads them to make plans, like staying a week extra on paid time off, that coincide with your trade show. If you decide your venue just can’t fit everyone in attendance at the last minute, this could put your exhibition’s reputation in a tailspin.

Before your event starts to explode in popularity, EventBrite suggests finding a location that can scale in size. Locations that can adapt square footage, or have multiple rooms to accommodate different-sized events, are your best friend. Location becomes intertwined with the branding of your trade show, so you’ll want to pick one that you can return to for years to come.

Take some time to decide which part of the country you want to settle down in and work to find a long-term venue provider to suit your needs. Your attendees who book everything in advance will thank you later, and you won’t stress when registration numbers skyrocket unexpectedly.

Identity spurs growth
If your event is still niche and you want it to grow in popularity, one of the most important things you can do is develop a strong brand for it. Your trade show’s target audience should be millennials and Generation X. These are the two groups of people you should be focused on as Baby Boomers are nearing their retirement age.

“60% of millennials are loyal to brands they associate with.”

Nearly 3 in every 5 millennials consider themselves loyal to companies’ brands they’ve developed connections with, according to an Elite Daily Consumer Study. This word is loaded and can mean a lot of things, but hosting a mostly digital and electronics driven event will undoubtedly support the idea that, for young professionals in your particular industry, there’s no other trade show more cutting-edge than yours.

Incorporating new technologies like holograms or digital signage as a means of wayfinding, or highly popular forms of communication like social media and live streaming, can show that your event is willing to cater specifically to the technologically-inclined. This could go a long way toward developing an identity and cultivating a loyal base of attendees.

Pick the right staff
Ultimately, the success you have in scaling your event from niche to mainstream will fall down to the people putting it together. Take your time to find the right event planner and/or contractor, event technologist and event staffers. In a sense, they’ll be the backbone to your trade show.

Rushing to hire people when you’re short on staff will only dilute the event’s brand and your ideal image of what it can be. You need a solid infrastructure to bring an event to the forefront of your industry, and successful planning is a large part of that.