Title: The American Exhibition

Periodical: Daily News

Date: May 9, 1887

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The American Exhibition of the arts, inventions, manufactures, products, and resources of the United States—such being its official and advertised description—opens to-day at Earl's Court, and it will remain one of the great sights, if not the sensation of the London season, until October 31. If with regard to our exhibitions at home, in London or elsewhere, difficulties are always found in getting exhibits ready to time, it could hardly be expected that an exhibition composed entirely of American productions, which have to be collected from different parts of a very big country and conveyed across the Atlantic, would be an exception to the rule. As a matter of fact, the practical portion of this American Exhibition is not complete as yet, and some days must pass before the block of buildings 1,200 feet long by 120 feet wide, planned in sections with intervening streets duly numbered, will be ready for critical notice. Nothing has, however, been more striking than the rapidity with which the Exhibition as a whole has been brought to its present state. A few weeks ago we had to wade through mire and slush upon what seemed a most hopeless waste, and pick our way over a very chaos of building materials. Now the grounds are prettily laid out, and the great house of iron and glass is built. In the outer buildings about the grounds there yet remains much to be done, but no one who has watched the smartness of the operations in the past has any right to doubt that the balance of work left for the future will speedily be mastered. The Wild West Show, however, of which the town is already talking, is waiting for public admiration. As our readers have been informed, Colonel Cody, his Indians, the buffaloes, horses, and deer have not only arrived in this country, but have for three weeks been established upon their own territory at Earl's Court. The Exhibition grounds are in two sections, a total of some twenty-three acres, offered to the proprietors by the Metropolitan Railway Companies to whom the property belongs, and divided by the West London Railway. The sections are united by a substantial bridge from Fourth-street of the Exhibition's township, to the centre of the Grand Stand, stretching in horseshoe shape round a part of the track round which the Red Indians, cowboys, and scouts career on horseback. The admission money is a shilling on ordinary days, and half-a-crown on Wednesdays, and this payment includes the whole of the Exhibition. To-day is in some senses ceremonial in character, and the admissions are restricted to the two guinea season tickets, payment of one guinea at the doors, or special guests to whom invitations have been sent. The grand stand, accommodating 20,000 people, is, of course, the largest erection of the kind we have ever had, and the management has very wisely fixed low prices for the seats, amphitheatre one shilling, grand circle two shillings, and reserved stalls five shillings. Only one exhibition of "Wild West" will be given to-day. The Prince of Wales, Mr. Gladstone, and a large number of notable people have already visited the Indian encampments, Mexican village, corrals, and stables, and a private rehearsal of the performance was given before the Royal visitors last week. Without preliminary advertising beyond the striking pictorial posters on the hoardings a vast amount of interest has been aroused in Buffalo Bill and his remarkable company of the two hundred persons who this afternoon, and thenceforward daily, will represent episodes in the adventurous life of the Wild West. There are a score of items in the programme—all being characterised by picturesque groups and colours, dramatic and rapid action, wonderful feats on horseback, and with the rifle, suggestions of prairie warfare, camp life, wigwam customs, buffalo hunts, and savage attacks upon travelling emigrants, and the log cabin of the white man. The painted and half-naked Indian warriors do not actually destroy their victims, but they carry the action with marvellous effect up to the very scalping point. The feats of the Mexicans and cowboys with the Broncho horses and mules, and steers, are as amusing as they are exciting. In short, we very much mistake the tastes of the British public if they do not become enamoured from the outset with this grand novelty. Before engaging in this enterprise the promoters entered into calculations showing that ten millions of people reside within an hour's, and half that number within thirty minutes' railway journey of the site. The Exhibition may be reached by alighting at West Brompton station for the Lillie-road entrances, or West Kensington station for the entrance at the northern corner of the ornamental grounds, but the principal station used will be Earl's Court, at which elaborate additions and alterations have been made for the Exhibition season. Mr. J. R. Whitley, chairman of the Executive Council of London, and Mr. H. S. Russell, [1] chairman of the American Board, are general managers; Mr. J. Gilmer Speed, [2] secretary; and Mr. Florence O'Driscoll, engineer of the Exhibition.

Note1: Henry Sturgis Russell (1838-1905), a Civil War general who became president of the American Exhibition. [back]

Note 2: John Gilmer Speed (1853-1909), an American journalist, editor, and author, served as Secretary of the American Exhibition in London, England, from 1884 through 1887. [back]