A CURSE OF ASH AND IRON and the Centennial Exposition

Published July 4, 2015 by christinenorris

Happy Birthday America! Being the 4th of July, I have a little relevant post today 🙂

The book’s out now, and I think enough people have read it that I can do some posts about stuff IN the book. Don’t worry, no spoilers!

I did a lot of research for this book. A LOT. Because I like looking stuff up, first of all — hello, Librarian! Second, I needed something to connect to Ben’s love of building things. And the Centennial Exposition had all of that.

What was it? It was the FIRST World’s Fair held in America. And it celebrated the 100th anniversary of the USA. The Exposition went on almost all year long, with a special event for the 4th, which included President Grant appearing at Independence Hall AND the first time the Centennial Bell (remember, that bell that’s in National Treasure, and currently in the bell tower?) was rung.

The Expo filled up most of Fairmount Park in Philly, and it was everything you could ask for in a World’s Fair. Every country in the world had a building, where they showed off the best their country had to offer — textiles, food, culture.

The horticulture building was a huge glass structure full of plants.

The Mechanical Hall, however was the centerpiece. It was HUGE, and filled with every kind of machine, including the Corliss Steam Engine, which is where I had Ben discover what he needed to…well, spoilers, so no.

So, what happened to all the buildings once the Exposition was over? That’s a pretty interesting story. Many of them were demolished or moved. You can find out what happened to them on at the Free Library Of Philadelphia’s site. I used this site A LOT when I was writing CURSE. I wouldn’t have been able to finish the book without it!
Unfortunately, Horticulture Hall was destroyed by Hurricane Hazel. Of ALL the original buildings, only a few remain in place. The Ohio house, a couple of small out buildings, and Memorial Hall.


Memorial Hall currently houses the Please Touch Museum. They’ve kept the hall mostly in tact, with the gorgeous plaster trim, all very 19th century.  They ALSO have an AWESOME Alice in Wonderland interactive exhibit (and the Expo is also where my ALICE story takes place in Beware the Little White Rabbit) AND a FANTASTIC permanent exhibit about the Centennial Exhibition. Including a replica train station and a model of the WHOLE fair. Yes, I’ve been, it was glorious!

They ALSO have a replica of the Statue of Liberty’s arm made of old toys, which sounds weird. But the real arm WAS on display during the Exposition, and people could tour it. I mention it in CURSE (which was really fun to do).

Have a happy day, Lovelies!

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