People & Events|
The Paris Exposition
In the summer of 1900, much of America was on the move. Advances in technology and a rise in the standard of living had introduced a concept that was previously foreign to the American middle-class: leisure time. Americans were being encouraged to leave the routine of home, if only for a few days, to relax and explore the seashores, lake sides, and hill tops. The most adventurous among them had even grander vacation plans in the summer of 1900. Their excursions included boarding the new, fast trans-Atlantic steamships bound for the Paris Exposition. Among the 7,500 Americans who made the journey to France were photojournalist Frances Benjamin Johnson, educator W.E.B Du Bois, and band leader John Philip Sousa.
The Paris Universal Exposition captured the attention of the entire modern world in 1900. Over 57 million visitors from all over the globe came to see thousands of exhibits displayed by nearly every nation on earth. Three regiments of French infantry and 11 companies of engineers had transformed the Champs de Mars from a littered, muddy wasteland into an array of manicured lawns and colorful flower beds. While the wonders of the present were displayed and praised, much of the Exposition was devoted to extolling those marvels that awaited mankind in the future. As a tribute to technology and progress, the Paris Exposition was like nothing that had come before it. Visitors marveled at moving sidewalks, wireless telegraphy, the most powerful telescope ever built, and the first escalator ever seen. American innovation and boosterism was evident everywhere. One English writer described the Exposition as "the Americanization of the world."