Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition

In 1898, following the financial panic of 1893 and the droughts of 1894-95, a world-class exposition was held in Omaha under the guidance of Gurdon W. Wattles and other civic leaders. The Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition emulated earlier "world's fairs" such as at Chicago in 1893. Twenty-nine states, three territories, and eleven foreign countries were represented. Exhibits illustrated the "Progress of the West" after the presumed closing of the frontier. The government authorized a congress of more than 500 Indians from thirty-five tribes, whose presence exhibited cultures seemingly doomed to extinction. Notable guests included President William McKinley, statesman William Jennings Bryan, and showman William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody. The exposition occupied a 184-acre tract encompassing present Kountze Park at 20th and Pinkney streets. Centered around a lagoon, the Grand Court was lined with monumental, though temporary, buildings constructed in the popular Neo-classical revival styles under supervision of architects C. Howard Walker and Thomas R. Kimball. The fair attracted over 2.5 million visitors from June through October and helped propel Omaha's development as a progressive commercial center in the twentieth century.



Heartland of America Park, Omaha