Question of the Week

In 1926, how did Philadelphia celebrate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence?

Sunday, 7/3/11

Answer: Philadelphia hosted the Sesquicentennial International Exposition.

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia hosted the Sesquicentennial International Exposition from June 1 to December 1, 1926.  During those six months, millions of visitors from around the world flocked to the South Philadelphia exposition grounds on what was then known as League Island Park (now Franklin D. Roosevelt Park, Marconi Plaza, and sports stadiums).  On July 5, President Calvin Coolidge addressed an estimated 200,000 visitors to officially open the Exposition.  

The Sesquicentennial Exposition featured rides, booths, speeches, sporting events, and exhibits to Answer: Philadelphia hosted the Sesquicentennial International Exposition.  To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia hosted the Sesquicentennial International Exposition from June 1 to Deccelebrate America’s freedoms and achievements.  One the of the most impressive attractions was the gateway at the entrance to the Exposition – an 80-foot replica of the Liberty Bell that people, cars, and trucks passed under to enter the fair .  Made out of sheet-metal, the Bell was covered with almost 26,000 light bulbs!  While the actual Liberty Bell stayed at home in Independence Hall, it was used as symbol and icon for the Exposition.

Philadelphia was awarded the right to hold the Exposition in 1921.  Unfortunately, despite the planners’ best efforts and years of planning, the 1926 fair was financially unsuccessful.  Rain and bad weather plagued more than half the days that the fair was open.  To help finance the fair, Congress authorized 1 million special issue half dollar coins with side-by-side portraits of George Washington and Calvin Coolidge.  Coin sales at the Exposition were modest and huge quantities were returned to be melted.

HSP holds several small collections related to the Exposition including the Sesquicentennial papers (#1547), the Louis F. Whitcomb Sesquicentennial papers (#1936), and the Sesquicentennial International Exposition papers (#587).  Additional images from the event can be found in the Society print (#V89) and photograph (#V59) collections.

Comments

Copy of Declaration of Independence

I have a copy of the Declaration of Independence for framing printed for the 150th celebration . I can not find any thing out about it. It was made by the Clifton b drake engineering and supplies of Philadelphia pa. In 1926. Can you help me find out more about it. It mailed in a tube for .25 cents.

Copy of Declaration of Independence

It's possible that we have information about this copy of the Declaration of Independence in our collections. Searching our online catalog Discover (discover.hsp.org) for the creator of the copy may bring up some results; if you can come to HSP, all the better. If you can't, then using our Research by Mail service is your next best bet. You can find out more about that here: http://hsp.org/collections/library-services/research-by-mail

Good luck with your research and thanks for commenting!

Cary Hutto
Assistant Director of Archives

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