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The Worlds Fair and Exposition
Information and Reference Guide

1926 Sesqui-Centennial Exposition




  • 90 facts and trivia nuggets with links to 14 more resources.

  • The World's Fair and Exposition Information and Reference Guide is now on CD.
    11,216 facts and 1,362 web links covering 24 World's Fairs and Expositions.
    Further information can be found here.

  • To Convert Dollar Amounts to the Year 2003: divide the amount by .096


Statistics (13) Facts and Trivia (70)
Liberty Bell (7) Resources, Sources, Links (14)
The Following are on the World's Fair CD
High Resolution Images (10) Bonus: 1926-27 Timeline (54)






  • Dates: June 1 - November 30, 1926

  • Location: League Island, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

  • Theme: 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

  • Area: 182 hectares (450 acres). Total plot of land: 1000 acres.

  • Total Land Allotment: League Island Park (275 acres), adjacent land (450 acres), flying field within the grounds (125 acres), a municipal flying field further west (90 acres), auto parking (300 acres) and military encampment (300 acres).

  • Cost: $26,000,000

  • Attendance: 6,000,000.

  • Admission: unknown as of this writing.

  • Hours: unknown as of this writing.

  • Official Guide Book: unknown as of this writing.

  • Official Campsites: 8.

  • Parking: 70,000 automobiles.

  • Participating Nations: Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Ceylon, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dutch East Indies, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Haiti, Holland, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Persia, Poland, Romania, Siam, Spain, Sweden and Tunis.

  • Participating States and Territories: Alabama, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wyoming. Philippine Islands, Porto Rico and Virgin Islands.

  • The Exposition was a financial failure.

  • The Sesqui-Centennial Exposition was also known as the "Rainbow City" because of the pastel shades of colors on the stucco structures.


Facts and Trivia




  • The elaborate gateway built at the entrance of the Exposition was a gigantic, 80 foot 
    replica of the Liberty Bell that people, cars and trucks passed under to enter the fair. 
    The sheet-metal Bell was covered with almost 26,000 15-watt light bulbs. Even the 
    clapper was covered in lights

  • Rain was present on more than half the days the fair was open.

  • Two buildings from the Centennial were used, Memorial Hall and Horticultural Hall.

  • The Curtis Organ was built in 1926 by the Austin Organ Company for the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Cyrus Curtis, publisher of the Saturday Evening Post, afterwards bought and donated the organ to the University of Pennsylvania.

  • John Philip Sousa wrote sheet music for the Sesqui-Centennial Exposition.

  • Featured at the Sesquicentennial Exposition: Jack Dempsey-Gene Tunney prizefight, 
    movie "talkies," electric refrigerators.

  • New Hampshire also celebrated it's Sesqui-Centennial.

  • A replica of Peter Cooper's "Tom Thumb" locomotive was exhibited.

  • 307,731,900 commemorative stamps were issued on May 10, 1926 and came in only one denomination ... 2. The engraving of the Liberty Bell on the stamp is from the bell that hung over the main entrance, not the original bell. 1926 was also considered the peak time for commemorative stamps, so it's not unusual to find mint condition FDCs.

  • Two roller coasters made their debut at the Exposition, the Cyclone and Jazz Railway. The Cyclone was a large wooden coaster and carried the distinction of having the first recorded use of Cyclone for a name. The Jazz Railway was a smaller steel coaster and was considered the forerunner of the Wild Mouse.

  • One of the unusual souvenirs from the Sesquicentennial were certificates that contained "timbers removed from flooring of Independence Hall during the restoration in 1897". These were part of the original lumber used by Andrew Hamilton who built the Old State House in the 1730s.

  • The idea for a Sesqui-Centennial Exhibition began in a meeting called by the Mayor of Philadelphia in November, 1920. This led to the formation of the "Committee of One Hundred" who in turn chartered the Sesqui-Centennial Exhibition Association.

  • President Harding signed the Sesqui-Centennial Act using a pen carved from the wood of the yoke of the Liberty Bell. It was in the shape of a feather and had an image of the Liberty Bell carved into it.

  • The population of Philadelphia in 1926 was approximately 1.9 million people and more than half the population of the United States lived within 500 miles of Philadelphia.

  • The Schuylkill River runs through the middle of the fairgrounds.

  • For the first time women were on the Governing Board of an International Exposition.

  • The Sesqui-Centennial's planned attendance was 200,000 people a day or 40,000,000 people for the entire year. However, only 6,000,000 people actually attended.

  • On March 19, 1925 President Coolidge issued an official proclamation inviting the world to participate in the Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition.

  • The National Sesqui-Centennial Commission was headed by Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover and Secretary of State Kellogg.

  • Japans appropriation money totaled $1,000,000 ($600,000 for participation, $400,000 by industrial groups) and it's exhibit included the Imperial Art Treasures.

  • Congress appropriated $2,186,500 for Federal participation.

  • Leopold Stokowski led The Philadelphia Orchestra, which was the Official orchestra of the Sesqui-Centennial. They played two concerts weekly for 16 weeks in the new 20,000 seat Auditorium.

  • Reproductions of the homes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Morris and Ben Franklin's Print and Book Shop were on display courtesy of the Woman's Board.

  • More than 200 Conventions and Congresses were held in Philadelphia during the Exposition. Including: Improved Order of Redmen, Knights of Columbus, Afro-American League of America, Irish National Foresters, Independent Order of Oddfellows, American Legion, National League of Masonic Clubs and the International Dental Congress.



  • The Palace of Liberal Arts and Manufacturers Building covered 338,992 sq ft (7.75 acres).

  • Great Britain had over 50,000 sq ft of exhibition space in the Palace of Liberal Arts and Manufacturers Building and included Royal Worchester and Royal Doulton China.

  • Holland occupied 4000 sq ft in the Palace of Liberal Arts and Manufacturers Building and it's display included Delft China.

  • More than 150 German firms represented Germany. They occupied 10,000 sq ft of space in the Palace of Liberal Arts and Manufacturers and 20,000 sq ft of space in the Palace of Machinery, Transportation, Mines and Metallurgy. Exhibits included everything from toys and textiles to machinery and chemicals.

  • Austria occupied 11,000 sq ft of exhibit space in the Palace of Liberal Arts and Manufacturers Building.

  • Denmark used 4,000 sq ft of space in the Palace of Liberal Arts and Manufacturers to display Copenhagen porcelain, silverware, textiles and various arts and crafts.

  • France used 10,000 sq ft to display perfumes, lingerie and other millinery.

  • Romania erected a two-story Peasant House and displayed various items in the Palace of Liberal Arts and Manufacturers, and the Palace of Machinery, Transportation, Mines and Metallurgy.

  • The Spanish Pavilion was a replica of the Torre del Oro (Tower of Gold) of Seville. It had a moat complete with a replica of the Castillo de Guadamur drawbridge. Among the items displayed were Gobelin Tapestries and Queen Isabella's Jewel Casket which contained the famous pawned gems that financed Columbus' voyage.

  • India constructed a reproduction of the Taj Mahal.

  • Argentina's building cost $420,000 and covered 39,000 sq ft.

  • The Persian Pavilion was a reproduction of one of the ancient buildings of Persepolis and part of it's exhibit contained illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages.

  • The City of Philadelphia contributed over $8,720,000 with another $2,900,000 coming from local citizens.

  • The Pennsylvania Building cost $452,046 out of $750,000 in allocated appropriations.

  • The Florida Building covered 100,000 sq ft and cost approximately $500,000.

  • Oklahoma erected a replica of it's State Capitol at a cost of $100,000. Total appropriations was listed at $350,000.

  • Other recorded appropriations: Delaware - $25,000, Illinois - $150,000, Iowa - $95,000, 
    New Jersey - $150,000, Ohio - $100,000.

  • California was represented with a replica of an old Spanish Mission.

  • The Kansas Pavilion was in the shape of a Sunflower.

  • Idaho, Oregon and Washington were represented in the Forestry Building.

  • New York had two buildings. A replica of the Federal Building in which George Washington was inaugurated. And a replica of Washington's Headquarters in Newburgh, New York. Cost was estimated at $150,000.

  • The Virgin Islands displayed the Pirate Schooner "Vigilant" complete with cargo.

  • Vermont had a replica of the Coolidge farm house.




  • The Battle of Gettysburg was portrayed in a Cyclorama.

  • The Gladway was the name for the Entertainment Section and it covered 80 acres. Joy Rides included: the Jazz Railway, Missouri Mule, Skooter, Tumble Bug and Bob's Coaster.

  • Rhode Island's Pavilion honored Roger Williams.

  • Mississippi not only had a building but also operated a "Know Mississippi Better" train to and from the Exposition with displays.

  • The City of Pittsburgh building cost over $100,000.

  • The Palace of Agriculture and Food Products Building covered 367,592 sq ft (8.35 acres) and cost approximately $1,000,000.

  • The Palace of Machinery, Transportation, Mines and Metallurgy covered 489,456 sq ft
    (11.3 acres) and cost approximately $740,000.

  • The Palace of Education and Social Economy covered 108,992 sq ft and cost $348,000.

  • The Palace of Fashion covered 600,000 sq ft, had a 6000 seat auditorium and cost approximately $1,500,000.

  • The Palace of Fine Arts covered 70,000 sq ft and cost approximately $210,000.

  • The "Great Concrete Stadium" featured a modern loudspeaker system, could accommodate 100,000 people and cost $3,000,000.

  • The major Exhibition Palaces provided nearly 2,000,000 sq ft of exhibition space. More than half the total space of the 1900 Paris Exposition.

  • The main entrance of the Exposition grounds featured two 55 foot pylons " ... surmounted by colossal figures called Heralds of the New Dawn".

  • The Tower of Liberty stood in the Court of Honor and was over 200 feet high. The structure was illuminated with lights at night and could be seen from all points on the Exposition grounds as well as most of the city.

  • Fourteen high powered searchlights provided 6,300,000,000, candle-power and could be seen as far away as New York.

  • A Tower of Light was created with two 62-inch searchlights.

  • The Paper Industry recreated the Old Rittenhouse Paper Mills. The Mills were in operation before the Signing of the Declaration of Independence .

  • Treasure Island provided 5 acres of amusement for children. Complete with Fairyland characters and a miniature railway, boat and airship rides.

  • The Last Great Indian Council represented every Indian Tribe in America and participated in the Pageant, "Winning of the West".

  • Sports Programs included: International Billiard Championships, National Dog Show, National Golf Championships, Davis Cup Tennis, National Amateur Bicycling, National Archery, National Track and Field, and the National Baseball Federation Amateur Championships.

  • The National Air Races had 500 participates and was the largest Aviation event held to date.

  • Four "flying fields" were used during the Sesqui-Centennial. US Navy Field (100 acres), Municipal Field (100 acres), Pitcairn Field (200 acres) and Sesqui-Centennial Field (125 acres).

  • The YMCA sponsored a reproduction of Washington's Mount Vernon home.


The Liberty Bell



  • The elaborate gateway built at the entrance of the Exposition was a gigantic, 70 foot 
    replica of the Liberty Bell that people, cars and trucks passed under to enter the fair. 
    The sheet-metal Bell was covered with 25,000 100-watt light bulbs. Even the 
    clapper was covered in lights.

  • The mammoth Liberty Bell was designed by engineers of the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company.

  • The real Liberty Bell remained in its home in Independence Hall not far from the fairgrounds.

  • The Liberty Bell was present at several US Expositions. 1876 Centennial International Exhibition, 1885 World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition, 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, 1895-96 Cotton States and International Exposition, 1902 South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition, 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, 1915 Panama-California Exposition as well as the 1926 Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition.

  • Since 1915, the Liberty Bell has been moved only three times within the city of Philadelphia. The Liberty Loan drives of 1917 and 1918, and in 1976 when it was moved from Independence Mall to its new location across the street.

  • From 1885 to 1915, the Liberty Bell traveled coast to coast.

  • The Bell weighed 42 tons and had a road clearance of 20 feet, 7 inches.


Links, Resources, Sources




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