The Power Plant in the Court of the Machinery Building
Buffalo, it was expected to have an exposition without the steam
engine, to make the lighting effects and the power supply in themselves
an exposition of the triumphant solution of the generation of electricity
at Niagara and its transmission to Buffalo. No provision was therefore
made in the original design for a steam power plant, or for the
exhibition of steam and gas engines in operation. As the project
grew, however, it became evident that the five thousand horse power
contracted for from the Cataract Power Co. would not be sufficient
for the needs of the exposition and a "service plant"
with a capacity of some 3,600 horse power constituted of such boilers
and machinery as could be cheaply had for temporary use was erected.
. . . The power generated in this plant is used to operate Root
positive rotary pumps, furnishing water for the cascade and fountains,
and generators for special electrical service.
Pan-American Exposition grounds were actually serviced by three power
plants. The first, located in the Electricity Building distributed the
electrical power generated at Niagara Falls and transmitted to Buffalo.
[See the Pan-American Exhibit of General
Electric Company.] The second, referred to in the quote above, was
a stand-alone service building, located in the northwest corner of the
Exposition grounds. Visitors to the Exposition could enter this building
and observe portions of the operation, which was comprised of natural
gas-powered boilers, and a series of steam and gas engines used to provide
the bulk of the electric power used for non-illumination purposes. However,
even the engines in this building could not sufficiently supply the complete
power needs of the Pan-American. Thus, a third "power court,"
with additional steam and gas engines was constructed as yet another "working
exhibit" in the Machinery and Transportation building.
Located in the Power Court of the Machinery Building
The Power Court
was located in the center of the building, in a depressed area surrounded
by an elevated walkway. Exposition visitors could then peer down into
the court to observe the engines in operation.
Images of the Power Court: The walkway is located at
the level of the "Murray Iron Works" sign in the picture
above. At right, visitors observe a working engine.
to the first intention and to the general expectation there
is considerable of a power plant at the Pan-American Exposition.
It is located in a depressed court surrounded by the Machinery and
Transportation Building and some dissatisfaction was expressed at
first on account of its isolation and inaccessibility. It is said
that the exhibitors made a purse and bought a handsome present for
a lady visitor who had the temerity to descend to the engine room.
All cause for such dissatisfaction is now, however, removed. The
roof has been raised to a height of eight or ten feet so that the
passage around the court on the main floor level is virtually a
gallery overlooking the engines and machinery, in addition to which
cross galleries have been placed centrally over the court upon the
same level. At each end broad flights of stairs will lead down to
the engine room, with numerous other staircases from different points
upon the galleries. In this way the power plant will become a prominent
feature of the machinery exhibit, hardly to be overlooked by the
regular visitor and easily accessible for those who wish to examine
it in detail.2
The Machinery and
"The Power Plants of the Pan-American
Exposition," The Engineering Record, vol. 43, no.
21 (May 25, 1901) pp. 500-501, for more information on each of the
three power plants located on the Exposition grounds. For more detailed
information on the engines used, including schematics and design
specifications, see "The Engines of the Pan-American Exposition,"
Power, vol. 21, no. 8 (Aug. 1901) pp. 1-8.
1. "The Engines of the Pan-American Exposition,"
Power, vol. 21, no. 8 (Aug. 1901) p. 1. The image of the Buffalo,
surrounded by flags is from the same issue. No artist credit is given.
2. Power, v.21, no.7 (July 1901) pp. 18-19.
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