1876 American Centennial

  • 1876 Centennial
  • Centennial Setup
  • Corliss Engine & Locomotives in Machinery Hall

The methods and products of Philadelphia workplaces were the central subjects of the Centennial Exhibition. Rather than imitating high culture landmarks as had been the recent custom of European fairs, the Philadelphia buildings were frank adaptations of the industrial logic of modern factories. There in vast, well-lighted halls constructed of mass-produced elements, prefabricated trusses, iron columns, and clad with immense glazed sash manufactured for the factories of the city, the fair-goer was exposed not just to the usual cultural products of painting and sculpture, pottery and decorative arts but also to the machines that stamped, molded, pressed, and shaped the products that were the genesis of the mass consumption of modern life. © George E. Thomas