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The Industrial Expositions of the city had their origin in the annual fairs of the Ohio Mechanics’ Institute, the first of which was held in Trollope’s Bazaar building, in 1838. Those fairs ceased owing to the civil war. In 1869 the Wool Growers’ Association of the Northwest gave a Textile Fabric Association which lasted four days, and was such a great success as to lead, through the exer-tions of Mr. A. T. GOSHORN and his associates, to uniting the three great organ-izations—the Board of Trade, the Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Mechanics’ Institute, in a plan to give, the Cincinnati Industrial Exposition of Manufactures, Products and Arts in the year 1870.”
Each of these bodies was represented by a committee of five members chosen for their zeal and peculiar capacity. They received no salary although their services involved much labor and time. To be an exposition commissioner was thought to be a distinguished honor. An exposition organized in this way could only be a public trust. There were to be no profits, no dividends to anybody. As a financial basis a guarantee fund was subscribed of $24,000. The form of subscription was a note by the guarantor for the amount of his individual guaranty, payable to the Exposition Commissioners only in case the receipts of the Expo-sition failed to pay expenses, and then only in proportion to the amount of deficit. The city banks advanced money on these notes.
The Exposition was held in a massive building erected for the National Saengerfest of the same year. With additions the exhibiting space covered seven acres. This entire space was filled with interesting exhibits, and the exposition was open from September 21 till October 22. Admission 25 cents. When it
closed it was found that over 300,000 visitors had passed through its gates; that the receipts had been about $54,000, leaving a small surplus over all expenses.
Not only was the city delighted with the great success but a wide interest was aroused throughout the country, whence visitors were drawn by the thousands to the great exposition. For the four following years expositions were held, and so far successful that no assessments were made on the guarantors.
“No exposition was held in the year 1876, on account of the great Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia; but it was a high compliment to the Cincinnati plan and management that, as early as the year 1872, the Philadelphia Commissioners visited the great Cincinnati Exposition of that year studied its details carefully, and afterwards chose for the important office of director-general of their exhibition A. T. GOSHORN, then the President of the Cincinnati Board of Exposition Commissioners.”
Meantime Music Hall had been built as one of the outgrowths caused by the exposition, all the people uniting to this end, even the school children giving con-certs with their massive child choruses in aid of the enterprise.
In 1888 was inaugurated “The Centennial Exposition of the Ohio Valley and Central States,” for the support of which a guarantee fund of $1,050,000 was subscribed by the people of Cincinnati. Honorary Commissioners were ap-pointed from thirteen States including their respective governors, thus giving national significance to the event, which also was intended also to celebrate the settle-ment of the Northwest Territory. Buildings occupying a large part of Wash-ington Park and spanning the canal were erected, which in connection with the permanent Exposition Building furnished a floor area of about thirty-two acres.
In this was gathered a magnificent collection of manufactured articles, products of the soil and works of art illustrating the mighty progress of a century. Congress appropriated $250,000 towards a national exhibit of some of their rarest and most valuable archives, which were placed in charge of government officials.
The Exposition was opened July 4, 1888, by a great daylight procession, much of it illustrative of the early history of the country and its wonderful progress. The streets were thronged with hundreds of thousands of people. All bearing testimony to the manner in which the popular heart was responding to the demands of the celebration.
The Exposition continued over 100 days and the entire enterprise was a grand industrial and artistic success, reflecting great credit and honor upon the citizens of Cincinnati, Exposition Commissioners and exhibitors.
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