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Travels with Grace: The 1926 Sesquicentennial Exposition

Posted on May 7th, 2019 by

Welcome to this week’s segment of our 2019 #TravelTuesday series: Traveling with Grace. This week, Grace and her family take a short visit form Baltimore to the neighboring city of Philadelphia for the Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition of 1926, which “was a world’s fair in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Its purpose was to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence, and the 50th anniversary of the 1876 Centennial Exposition.” -via.


1926 Sesquicentennial International Exposition logo, Philadelphia, PA. Via.

Monday Oct. 11: We took the party electric car and rode around the exposition grounds. Visited Liberal Arts Bldg. Rode up High St. replica of the that old historic thoroughfare where was held a colonial parade in full pomp and pageantry. Had an excellent dinner at the Russian Pavilion, then visited the Fine Arts and India Bldgs. And Treasure Island.

“Despite the many authentic historic sites in Philadelphia, a newly constructed Colonial High Street on the Sesquicentennial grounds became one of the popular attractions of the fair.” –

Tues. Oct. 12 Visited a model of U.S.P.O. and Agriculture Bldg., Palace of Education. Dined at French restaurant. Visited Transportation Bldg. and Gladway. In the evening watched gorgeous display of fireworks around fountain with colored lights. Mr. Marks conducted us thru his model shoe factory.

Map of the grounds of the 1926 Seaqui-Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia, PA. Via.

Wed. Oct. 13 Visited the Pittsburgh Bldg. where they showed movies of the city’s industrial expansion. Paid a second visit to High St. where we saw the first school house, Washington’s home, Paul Revere’s smithy, a collection of dolls from every state and watched a performance of marionettes in a miniature theatre. The play was based on a domestic episode revolving about a tube of toothpaste. It was in 3 acts. Act I. 4 weeks after marriage. Act II. 4 months after. Act III 4 years after. A Town Crier announces the attractions on High St. Next we visit the Persian, Cuban, and Spanish Bldgs. Saw an aviatrix do daredevil stunts. Visit Florida and Penna. Bldgs.

“Bird’s Eye” view of the 1926 Sesqui-Centennial Exposition Grounds (Courtesy of the Bruce C. Cooper Collection). Via.

Thurs. Oct. 14 Lunch at Wanamaker’s. Took a trip in Grayline Bus to Valley Forge National Park passing Bryn Mawr college en route. Interesting tour of historic park.

Contents of Bldgs.

Persian Bldg. Silver – copper – jewels – rugs – shawls

Spanish Bldg. Paintings – tapestries

India Bldg. Mother-of-Pearl, Ivories, inlaid screens and tables, jade, precious stones, exotic scents

Liberal Arts Bld. Tiles (model baths and kitchens) (1 bath cost $6000), Radios, vacuums, [vetaphone?] picture of telephone industry (one of the first I have heard), Publishing houses display some of their finest editions including elaborate gold leaf works. Grolier Society among others. Wanamaker’s exhibit showing evolution of the flag. An Indian composer plays his work on violin in native costume. Displays of furniture and frigidaires which are now coming into popularity. Wallpaper and [lincrusty???] displays in model houses.

Fine Arts Bldg. Old and modern schools of painting, sculpture, bronzes, heroic status, wood carvings, tapestries. Many of Jules Massbaum’s fine collection on display.

“While Philadelphians had argued over competing visions for the fair and a celebration of culture or commerce, both impulses could be seen in Sesquicentennial exhibits such as this display by a Japanese trade association.” –

Commercial – Foreign. Japanese silk worm cultivation. Satsuma – Cloisinne products, exquisite colorings. A pagoda built entirely of real pearls and platinum which drops into a trick stage at night. Dolls and furniture from Spain – embroiders and peasant costumes from Czecko-Slovakia, glassware from Hungary, clocks and jewelry from Vienna, wedgewood pottery from England and Titania’s fairy palace.

Transportation Bldg. Trains, boats, aeroplaens, earliest and laters models. Many kinds of food displays.

Education Bldg. School systems on model plans, Farm School, Roosevelt Memorial Association health centres, camps, schools for blind, Y.W.C.A. groups, Zionist, Council of Jewish Women, manual therapy, forest preservation, sanitation, domestic science, art, athletics, traffic signals. One is thankful to rest in a little non-sectarian chapel, flower filled, a haven of quiet in which to think over it all.

Thanks for reading “Traveling with Grace,” a series where we’re sharing (and annotating) posts from the travel diaries of Grace Amelia Hecht, native Baltimorean, b. 1897 and d. 1955. Next week we’ll pick up with a new diary from 1929! As mentioned in my introductory post transcription errors sometimes occur and I’ve made my best guesses where possible, denoted by [brackets]. – Rachel Kassman, marketing manager

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