Most travelers to the Centennial Exhibition
approached the fairgrounds from the east, either by railroad or
horse-drawn trolley across the new Girard Avenue Bridge. At the
Schuylkill River crossing the first hint of the vast Exhibition
grounds was the glass and steel dome of Memorial Hall and the flag-studded
towers of the Main Exhibition Building as these came into view above
the wooded slope of Fairmount Park. The sheer size of these structures
in their natural setting must have been breathtaking.
Visitors were well advised to arrive at the main entrance across
from the Pennsylvania Railroad Depot on Elm (now Parkside) Avenue
promptly for the 9:00 AM opening. Entrance to the grounds was 50
cents, payable only in paper scrip, which caused endless hardship
to those without the proper note. What struck the visitor upon entry
was the enormous Bartholdi Fountain midway between Machinery Hall
and the Main Exhibition Hall. From this vantage point the first-time
visitor had usually one of three objectives: hurry to the center
of Machinery Hall to witness the start-up of the Corliss Centennial
Steam Engine, board the West-End Narrow Gauge Railway for five cents
to view the entire fairgrounds, or cross the square to the right
and visit the Department of Public Comfort.
Roll your mouse over the interactive map below
for details about the buildings and spaces of the Centennial Exhibition.
Or, begin your tour by choosing a location from the pull-down menus