A full one hundred years removed from the signing of the Declaration of Independence, America celebrated in style. It was a celebration that was carefully planned years in advance, and it cost the country lots of time, money, and resources.
Philadelphia was selected to host this great affair. Historically speaking, there was no better choice. In 1876, America was the home of the world’s fair - The Centennial Exhibition - to celebrate 100 years of American freedom. As all world’s fairs are, it was to be a showcase of cultures, both foreign and domestic, a grand stage for individual nation’s to show the rest of the world exactly "what they were made of," a lesson in diversity, and a celebration of that diversity.
However, from what I have read, the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 did not quite capture the worldly sphere of influence that it had hoped for. Instead, it was a showcase of American strength, pride, and technology. The buildings were tremendous and beautiful. They all stood firm with an awesome presence. But, there was one building in particular that held a special significance. It is possible that even the people who visited the fair did not grasp its importance. Inside Machinery Hall stood a huge mechanical wonder. Not only was it the main attraction at the Centennial, but the Corliss Steam Engine signified the end of an era, and the beginning of another.
For six months, visitors from all around the world walked through the fair grounds, just taking in the magnificent sights and exhibits. The Main Building contained an art gallery that included works from the finest artists in the world. It was practically impossible to take in the entire gallery in one day (Crew 409). There was a building for virtually every state in the union and each tried to emulate the style and character of the state. There was a buildings for agriculture and horticulture. The fair was simply immense. But, at the center of it all was the Corliss Engine. Thousands of people a day would come and stare at the sheer power and grace it exhibited. It was a symbol of the very power that it possessed.