The 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Fairmount Park celebrated the nation’s birth and highlighted America’s new found industrial strength. Millions of attendees approached the Exhibition traveling from Market St. through Powelton on trolley lines. Powelton was still quite young - most of the houses were less than ten years old. Probably hundreds of attendees rented houses or rooms here during their stay. (The Swedish Commission rented a house on 33rd St. near Baring.) Several Poweltonians played central roles in the planning and building of the Exhibition grounds. Coleman Sellers (3301 Baring St.) was one of the Exhibition Commissioners and the moving spirit behind Mechanical Hall. Samuel J. Levick (405 N. 33rd St.) was a member of the Executive Committee.
|Charles E. Pugh|
George W. Hancock’s family had long roots in the neighborhood. In 1860, he was living on 33rd St. above Baring. Later he lived at 3202 Hamilton St. and 3216 Baring St. He was a surveyor and became City Surveyor in 1872. He was responsible for the grading and paving of the streets at the Exposition and for engineering the passenger railway lines leading to the Centennial grounds.
|The Alexander Bros. Exhibit of Industrial Belts|
Poweltonians also played a major role in supplying the Exhibition. The McIlvain’s lumber yards on Lancaster Ave. provided a great deal of lumber. They were long-time residents of Powelton. Samuel J. Cresswell (317 N. 35th St.) provided the ornamental iron work for Horticultural Hall. Also, Powelton’s numerous wholesale grocers, butchers and provisioners like John Laughlin (3406 Baring St.) and William McCahen (334 N. 32ndSt.) must have worked overtime to meet the increased demand.
It is not possible to overestimate the effect of the Centennial Exhibition on Powelton or Poweltonians’ contributions to the Exhibition.
[This is a revised version of a piece that I wrote for the Powelton Post.]