Title: The American Exhibition

Periodical: The Belfast News-Letter

Date: May 10, 1887

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LONDON, MONDAY.—The American Exhibition of arts, inventions, manufactures, products, and resources of the United States, which it has taken three years to develop and three months to build, opened its doors this afternoon. In the saloon of the art gallery, set apart for natural history trophies, there are several remarkable specimens on view, notably a collection of wapiti heads, shown by Mr. F. Cooper, [1] and an especially handsome white deer, with sixty points to its antlers. The attractiveness of these exhibits is much enhanced by the artistic way in which they have been prepared by Mr. Rowland Ward, [2] of Piccadilly, whose famous jungle scene at the Colonial Exhibition will be still fresh in our readers' minds. The open-air circus, in which Buffalo Bill and his troupe of performers are located, is quite finished. A number of private boxes have been erected in the front of this stand, differing from those usually found at places of entertainment in the fact that they consist only of a low hoarding, which forms a square pen, allowing the people in the ordinary seats behind to see over them without inconvenience. The Exhibition grounds proper are also in a fair way towards completion. The paths are laid and the band stand all but finished. Numbers of American trees have been planted, and several side shows erected. Among these, and supplying one of the most curious, as it is certainly the most novel object to be seen at Earl's Court, is a switch-back railway, which has been established on a large scale at the eastern extremity of the grounds. This railway consists of a series of steep gradients at different angles reaching up to an altitude of 20 feet 9 inches, along which a car is propelled by its own weight, the ascent being made by the impetus gained during the descent. The apparatus is, in short, a kind of extended "roller coaster," but much more exciting, seeing that the distance, as well as the height traversed, is far greater and the speed much swifter than that obtained on the older form of "mild excitement." This railway is certain to prove exceedingly popular.

The open proceedings were begun at half-past three o'clock by a performance of "Hail, Columbia," by the Grenadier Guards band: after which Archdeacon Farrar, of Westminster, led the company in prayer—"That the Almighty would bless this undertaking, and make it tend to the larger distribution among men of Heaven's gifts for the use of this life, so that man's discoveries and inventions, arts, and sciences, might minister to His service, and that the time might be hastened when war should be no more, and all nations clasp hands in His faith and fear."

The band then played "God Save the Queen," after which Lord Ronald Gower, on behalf of the English council, delivered an address of welcome to the American guests. This council, he said, consisted of about one thousand leading Englishmen in all walks of life, animated by the common purpose of showing a strong regard and affection for America and Americans. He expressed the hope that this Exhibition might be a new bond of amity between England and America.

The PRESIDENT of the EXHIBITION (Colonel Henry Russell, [3] ) returned thanks for this welcome, and for the encouragement given to the Americans in their efforts to make a fair show of Yankee industries.

Mr. JOHN R. WHITLEY (Director-General of the Exhibition) explained that it had been organised and developed solely by private initiative. It illustrated, he said, the aims and conditions of that bright and active, that incalculably wealthy and varied section of human life which develops its resistless energies and practically inexhaustible resources from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans, from Lake Superior to the Gulf of Mexico. He believed that both nations would gain by fuller insight into the character and products of each other. The Exhibition was a natural sequence of the great gathering held in Philadelphia in 1876 to celebrate and commemorate the centennial year of American independence. They were there assembled, subjects of the British Empire and citizens of the United States, to deal the final death-blow to all the suggestions that any remnant of ill-will or jealously can continue to linger on between the two great nations of the English-speaking world.

"The Star Spangled Banner" and "Rule Britannia" having been sung by Mdlle. Lilian Nordica [4] amid great enthusiasm.

Colonel H. S. RUSSELL, the president, proclaimed the Exhibition open, and hoped it might prove another strong link in that chain, sometimes strained, but never to be broken, which binds the United States to Old England, the child to its mother, to whom it owed the very traits of character which had made this day possible.

Other speeches followed, after which the assembly proceeded to witness the performance of Buffalo Bill's "Wild West," the branch of the Exhibition which will, probably, have most attraction to the public.

Note 1: Mr. F. Cooper is not identifed. [back]

Note 2: James Rowland Ward (1848-1912), a renowned British taxidermist and author/publisher of natural history and big-game hunting literature. [back]

Note 3: Henry Sturgis Russell (1838-1905), a Civil War general who became president of the American Exhibition. [back]

Note 4: Lillian (Lillian Allen Norton) Nordica (1857-1914), an American dramatic operatic soprano with a major international stage career. [back]

Title: The American Exhibition

Periodical: The Belfast News-Letter

Date: May 10, 1887

Topic: Buffalo Bill's Wild West in Britain

Keywords: Atlantic Ocean Band of the Grenadier Guards (Great Britain) Mexico, Gulf of Pacific Ocean Roller coasters Star-spangled banner (Song) Superior, Lake

People: Farrar, F. W. (Frederic William), 1831-1903 Nordica, Lillian, 1857-1914 Russell, Henry Sturgis Whitley, John Robinson, 1843-1922

Places: England Philadelphia (Pa.) United States

Sponsor: This project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Geraldine W. & Robert J. Dellenback Foundation.

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