Skip to Content
ublogo print

University at Buffalo Libraries

Pan-American Exposition of 1901

The German Community of Buffalo and the Pan-American Exposition

German immigrants had been arriving in Buffalo in significant numbers since its early days with many becoming prosperous in areas of business and politics. By 1901 some of the leading entrepeneurs in the brewing, flour milling, tanning and meat-packing industries were first or second generation German-Americans. It is not surprising that many of these leaders were in some way involved in nearly all aspects of the Pan-American Exposition.



Buffalo's German-led Industry

Ad for Maltosia

Advertisement for Maltosia. Produced by the German-American Brewing Company Source: Deutsch-Amerikanische Historische und Biographische Gesellschaft. Buffalo und sein Deutschtum : Deutsch- Amerikanische Historische und Biographische Gesellschaft. [Buffalo, N.Y.?] : Die Gesellschaft], 1911-1912.

Buffalo's German population in 1901 included a number of very influential, often wealthy businessmen, many of whom attained prominance through the business dominated by Buffalo's German population throughout the 19th century--brewing. In the 1840's small plants had first been established by such Buffalo brewing pioneers Jacob Roos, J. F. Schanzlin and Hoffman, and Joseph Friedman. By the latter part of the nineteenth century, however, breweries with names like Germania, Magnus-Beck, Gerhard-Lang, and the German-American Brewing Company were successfully competing with their counterparts in cities like Milwaukee. In 1896, Buffalo's 19 breweries produced an output of 652,340 barrels. The majority of these companies were still managed by German-American founders and/or their descendents. William Simon, Edward G. Becker, Alois and Philip Schaeffer, Charles Pankow, Christian Trapp, Col. John L. Schwarts--all were big names in the brewing industry who were also prominent Buffalo citizens.

Buffalo's brewers were major investors in the Pan-American Exposition as well. According to the Buffalo Commerical, by February 1, 1899, Buffalo brewers had purchased $55,800 in subscriptions of Pan-American Exposition stock.


The German-American Brewery

German-American Brewery. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: A History of the City of Buffalo : Its Men and Institutions : Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens. Buffalo, N.Y. : Buffalo Evening News, 1908. p.135

The Gerhard-Beck Brewery

The Magnus-Beck Brewery. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: A History of the City of Buffalo : Its Men and Institutions : Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens. Buffalo, N.Y. : Buffalo Evening News, 1908. p.132.


Of course, brewing was not the only area where Buffalo's german population excelled. By 1901 the city also boasted German-American leaders like Charles Fix (business & politics), Frank Snyder (trucking and cartage), Edward G. Becker (brewing & banking), George Zimmerman (lumber & banking) Christian Klinck and Jacob Dold (meatpacking), F.C.M. Lautz (soap), Jacob Schoellkopf and Sons (tanning, flour mills, hydro-electric power, brewing, banking, etc.), George Urban Jr. (flour mills, hydro-electric power), and Christian and Louis Stephen Kurtzmann (pianos). Conrad Diehl, the mayor of Buffalo in 1901, was also of German descent.

C. Kurtzmann Factories

The Kurtzmann Factories, Buffalo, N.Y. Source: Deutsch-Amerikanische Historische und Biographische Gesellschaft. Buffalo und sein Deutschtum : Deutsch- Amerikanische Historische und Biographische Gesellschaft. [Buffalo, N.Y.?] : Die Gesellschaft], 1911-1912.

Louis Stephen Kurtzmann

Louis Stephen Kurtzmann, President of C. Kurtzmann & Co., Manufacturer of Pianos. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: Men of Buffalo: A Collection of Portraits of Men Who Deserve to Rank as Typical Representatives of the Best Citizenship, Foremost Activities and Highest Aspirations of the City of Buffalo. Chicago: A.N. Marquis & Co., 1902, p.257.



Buffalo's German-American Leaders and the Pan-American Exposition

Because the Pan-American Exposition was, after all, a way to show off the city and its industries, many of these individuals worked hard to bring the to Buffalo. Four members of the Board of Directors of the Exposition were either German or of German descent--Conrad Diehl, August Esenwein, George Urban, Jr., and F.C.M. Lautz.

Conrad Diehl

Conrad Diehl, Mayor of Buffalo

 August Carl Esenwein

August Carl Esenwein, Architect. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: Deutsch-Amerikanische Historische und Biographische Gesellschaft. Buffalo und sein Deutschtum : Deutsch- Amerikanische Historische und Biographische Gesellschaft. [Buffalo, N.Y.?] : Die Gesellschaft], 1911-1912.

F.C.M. Lautz

Frederick C. M. Lautz. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: Men of Buffalo: A Collection of Portraits of Men Who Deserve to Rank as Typical Representatives of the Best Citizenship, Foremost Activities and Highest Aspirations of the City of Buffalo. Chicago: A.N. Marquis & Co., 1902, p. 286.

George Urban, Jr.

George Urban, Jr. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: A History of the City of Buffalo : Its Men and Institutions : Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens. Buffalo, N.Y. : Buffalo Evening News, 1908, p. 192.


The architect who designed the Temple of Music, August Esenwein, was from Germany, as were many of the musicians and directors who performed at the Pan American Exposition. The huge "Saengerfest" or festival of German choral music, which took place during the Exposition, brought at least ten thousand people to the fair. "Alt Nürnberg", or "old Nuremberg," replicated several historic buildings in Nuremberg, as well as a large open-air restaurant and concert area on the Midway. Within the buildings were reproductions of artwork and other cultural treasures of Germany.

The Exposition Illuminated

The Exposition Illuminated

German Americans were an influential group in Buffalo society at the time, and they had reason for pride in their representation at the Pan-American Exposition.


German Culture in 1901 Buffalo

John Lund

John Lund, Conductor. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: Geschichte der Deutschen in Buffalo und Erie County, N.Y. / mit biographien und illustrationen hervorragender Deutsch- Amerikaner, welche zur Entwickelung der Stadt Buffalo beigetragen haben. (History of the Germans of Buffalo and Erie County). Buffalo, N.Y. : Reinecke & Zesch, 1897 (1898 printing), p. 172.

German settlers in Buffalo started forming singing societies before the Civil War. By 1901, these included the Buffalo Sängerbund, Liedertafel, Liederkranz, Germania Singing Society, Orpheus, and the Harugari Männerchor. From June 24 to 27, 1901, Buffalo welcomed a huge crowd of German-American singers from all over North America, for the 1901 Saengerfest. F. C. M Lautz led the organizational effort, while John Lund conducted the enormous adult choir, and Joseph Mischka, an immigrant from Bohemia (then part of Austria-Hungary) and, in 1901, Director of Music for the Buffalo School System, directed about 3500 children in a concert at the 74th Regiment (now the Connecticut Street Armory) - the only building large enough to accommodate the concerts.



Alt Nürnberg: German Culture on the Midway

Alt Nürenberg

View of the Restaurant at Alt Nürnberg. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: Cosmopolitan, vol. 31, no. 5 (September 1901), p. 476

Bavarian Guard

Bavarian Guard at Alt Nürnberg. Photographer: C.D. Arnold. Source: The Pan-American Exposition Illustrated by C. D. Arnold. Buffalo, N. Y.: C. D. Arnold, 1901. p. 10. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant


"Alt Nürnberg", or "old Nuremberg," replicated several historic buildings in Nuremberg, as well as a large open-air restaurant and concert area on the Midway. Within the buildings were reproductions of artwork and other cultural treasures of Germany.

Alt Nürenberg

Alt Nürnberg on the Midway. Photographer: C.D. Arnold. Source: The Pan-American Exposition Illustrated by C. D. Arnold. Buffalo, N. Y.: C. D. Arnold, 1901. p. 110. Courtesy of Kerry S. Grant

Alt Nürenberg

View of Alt Nürnberg. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: Cosmopolitan, vol. 31, no. 5 (September 1901), p. 486


Other sources

Information on the history of Germans and German-Americans in Buffalo include:

  1. Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks' website Archivaria.com looks at the history of the Geman Community in Buffalo, including discussion of the German singing societies.
  2. Geschichte der Deutschen in Buffalo und Erie County, N.Y. / mit biographien und illustrationen hervorragender Deutsch- Amerikaner, welche zur Entwickelung der Stadt Buffalo beigetragen haben. (History of the Germans of Buffalo and Erie County). Buffalo, N.Y. : Reinecke & Zesch, 1897 (1898 printing)
  3. Deutsch-Amerikanische Historische und Biographische Gesellschaft. Buffalo und sein Deutschtum : Deutsch- Amerikanische Historische und Biographische Gesellschaft. [Buffalo, N.Y.?] : Die Gesellschaft], 1911-1912.