Great Central Fair
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1864



The Library Company of Philadelphia
1314 Locust Street, Philadelphia
Pennsylvania 19107
(215) 546-3181
http://www.librarycompany.org

Elevation of Sanitary Fair Building

Buildings of the Great Central Fair, in aid of the U. S. Sanitary Commission Logan Square, Philadelphia, June 1864. / Drawn from nature & on stone by James Queen. (Philadelphia: Printed & Lithogrd. by P. S. Duval & Son, 1864). 31 x 67 cm. (12.38 x 26.5 in.)


In 1861, the Philadelphia branch of the relief organization, the United States Sanitary Commission, began collecting monetary donations in order to supply Union soldiers with basic necessities and medical supplies. Although the Philadelphia branch raised $135,000 in the span of 2 years, the war effort demanded more supplies and support. The success of Sanitary Fairs in Chicago, Cincinnati and Boston encouraged the Philadelphia agency to experiment with its own Fair in June 1864. Local businesses and institutions donated their products and services to support the patriotic cause and exhibited a wide array of valuable goods and curiosities under one roof. Although the Sanitary Commission asked all members of society to support their countrymen, the spectacle was limited to those who could afford the admission prices.

Logan Square was chosen as the site for the Great Central Fair since it was large enough to accomodate the main building, which encompased approximately 200,000 square feet. William Strickland and Samuel Honeyman Kneass designed the symmetrical structure with Gothic details, the elevation and plan of which are pictured below. Union Avenue, the great central "Gothic" artery, bisected the Fair building from Eighteenth Street to Nineteenth Street. According to Charles J. Stille, who wrote a memorial of the Fair for the Sanitary Commission, "this great hall had all the vastness of the Cathedral's long drawn aisles and its moral impressiveness as a temple dedicated to the sublime work of charity and mercy." Various "departments" were organized along the corridors of this mini-town; many of them are listed below in the List of Departments and in the Subject Index.

The Library Company's collection includes many photographs of the Fair's various departments. The images were scanned and listed alphabetically with additional information in the subject index below. View the Plan of the Fair Building to get a sense of the spatial layout of the fair. Each image can be viewed in a second window by clicking on the title in the subject index.

Many resources about the Sanitary Fair are also included in the library's book collections, such as Charles J. Stille, Memorial of The Great Central Fair for the U.S. Sanitary Commission Held at Philadelphia, June 1864 (Philadelphia, 1864) and "Our Daily Fair," the fair's daily newspaper containing detailed descriptions of the various departments.

Linda Wisniewski, Graphics Assistant

Please note that all digital images available on this site are for reference use only. For information about securing high quality reproductions of these images and publication permission go to our Rights and Reproductions page.


List of Departments




Ground plan of buildings of the Great Central Sanitary Fair, Logan Square, Philadelphia, June 1864. (Philadelphia: Printed & Lithogrd. by P. S. Duval & Son, 1864). 59 x 46 cm. (23 x 18 in.)

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Subject Index


Subject Category Title Accession # Type
1 Arms and Trophies [Arms and Trophies] 5781.F.170f Stereograph
Arms and Trophies [Arms and Trophies, Cannon] 5781.F.168c Stereograph
2 Art Gallery [Art Gallery] 5781.F.161d CDV
Art Gallery [Art Gallery] 5781.F.161h CDV
Art Gallery [Art Gallery] 5781.F.160f CDV
Art Gallery [Art Gallery] 5781.F.164l CDV
Art Gallery [Art Gallery] 5781.F.165d CDV
Art Gallery [Art Gallery] 5781.F.164a CDV
Art Gallery [Art Gallery] 5781.F.164i CDV
Art Gallery [Fine Art Gallery] 5781.F.166a Stereograph
Art Gallery [Fine Art Gallery] 5781.F.166b Stereograph
Art Gallery [Fine Art Gallery] 5781.F.166f Stereograph
Art Gallery [Fine Art Gallery] 5781.F.169h Stereograph
Art Gallery [Fine Art Gallery] 5781.F.169f Stereograph
Art Gallery [Fine Art Gallery] 5781.F.171f Stereograph
Art Gallery [Fine Art Gallery] 5781.F.171g Stereograph
Art Gallery [Fine Art Gallery, framed relief carving] 5781.F.171d Stereograph
3 Carriages [General Washington's Carriage] 5781.F.164h CDV
Carriages [Washington's Carriage] 5781.F.159e Stereograph
4 Children's [Children's Department] 5781.F.b Stereograph
Children's [Children's Department] 5781.F.155e Stereograph
5 Corn Exchange [Corn Exchange] 5781.F.168b Stereograph
6 Delaware [Delaware Department] 5781.F.170a Stereograph
7 Engines [Engine Department] 5781.F.164k CDV
Engines [Engine Department] 5781.F.166h Stereograph
General Views [Unidentified exhibit] 5781.F.164j CDV
General Views [John Stevens First Steamboat] 5781.F.172a Stereograph
General Views [Union Avenue] 5781.F.166e Stereograph
General Views [Union Avenue] 5781.F.157d Stereograph
General Views [Union vase designed by Bailey & Co.to be displayed in center of Union Avenue] 5781.F.165j CDV
General Views [View of Union Avenue, south side, Lingerie and Trimmings] 5781.F.161j CDV
General Views [View of Union Avenue, south side, Lingerie and Trimmings] 5781.F.161c CDV
General Views [View of Union Avenue, south side, Lingerie and Trimmings] 5781.F.165b CDV
General Views [View of Union Avenue, south side, Lingerie and Trimmings] 5781.F.164b CDV
8 Horticultural [Horticultural Department] 5781.F.166g Stereograph
Horticultural [Horticultural Department] 5781.F.159d Stereograph
Horticultural [Horticultural Department] 5781.F.159b Stereograph
Horticultural [Horticultural Department, Entrance] 5781.F.168a Stereograph
Horticultural [Bridge, over Fish Pond] 5781.F.160j CDV
Horticultural [Bridge, over Fish Pond] 5781.F.164m CDV
9 New Jersey [New Jersey Department] (2)5781.f.160e Stereograph
10 Photographs [Photograph Department] 5781.F.170b Stereograph
Photographs [Photograph Department] (2)5781.F.160b Stereograph
11 Relics and Curiosities [Relics & Curiosities] 5781.F.170c Stereograph
Relics and Curiosities [Relics and Curiosities] 5781.F.156e Stereograph
Relics and Curiosities [Arms and Relics, Dr. Kane's Boat] 5781.F.156d Stereograph
Relics and Curiosities [Dr. Kane's Boat] 5781.F.171g Stereograph
Relics and Curiosities [Arms and Relics Department] 5781.F.156c Stereograph
12 Restaurant [Large Dining Room] 5781.F.165f CDV
Restaurant [Large Dining Room] 5781.F.168d Stereograph
Restaurant [Large Dining Room] 5781.F.156g CDV
13 Sewing Machines [Dr. Barnum's Self Sewer] 5781.F.168f Stereograph
Sewing Machines [Sewing Machines, Stoves, Ranges & Cast & Wrought Iron displays] 5781.F.164n CDV
Sewing Machines [Sewing Machines, Stoves, Ranges & Hollow ware exhibits] 5781.F.165a CDV
Sewing Machines [Sewing Machines, Stoves, Ranges & Cast & Wrought Iron displays] 5781.F.169g Stereograph
Sewing Machines [Sewing Machines, Stoves, Ranges, Cast & Wrought Iron & Hollow ware displays ] 5781.F.177c Stereograph
Sewing Machines [Sewing Machines, Stoves, Ranges & Cast & Wrought Iron displays on thoroughfare to Agricultural Machinery display] 5781.F.160g CDV
14 Union Avenue [Benevolent Institutions] 5781.F.171b Stereograph
Union Avenue [The Contested Sword]

5781.F.172h

Stereograph
Union Avenue [Firemen's Department] 5781.F.159g Stereograph
Union Avenue [Firemen's Department] 5781.F.161f CDV
Union Avenue [Firemen's Department] 5781.F.159f Stereograph
Union Avenue [Firemen's Department] 5781.F.164c CDV
Union Avenue [Firemen's Department] 5781.F.161e CDV
Union Avenue [Firemen's Department] 5781.F.164g CDV
Union Avenue [Firemen's Department] 5781.F.165e CDV
Union Avenue [Firemen's Department] 5781.F.165c CDV
Union Avenue [Firemen's Department] 1322.F.166d Stereograph
Union Avenue [Gent's collar exhibit] 5781.F.157e Stereograph
Union Avenue [The Glass Engine] 5781.F.155g Stereograph
Union Avenue [Horse Shoe Machine] 5781.F.170d Stereograph
Union Avenue [Howell & Bourke exhibit] 5781.F.164d CDV
Union Avenue [Howell & Bourke exhibit] 5781.F.168e Stereograph
Union Avenue [Howell & Bourke exhibit] 5781.F.168e Stereograph
Union Avenue [The India Rubber & Gutta-Percha Department] 5781.F.159c Stereograph
Union Avenue [India Rubber & Gutta-Percha Department] 5781.F.164e CDV
Union Avenue [Labor, Income & Revenue Dept., Union Avenue] 5781.F.160a Stereograph
Union Avenue [Union Vase] 5781.F.155b Stereograph
Union Avenue [Union Vase] 5781.F.164.0 CDV
Union Avenue [The $1000 Baby House] 5781.F.172f Stereograph
Union Avenue [The $1000 Baby House] 5781.F.155h Stereograph
15 William Penn Parlor [The Penn Parlor] P.9276.56 Stereograph
William Penn Parlor [The Penn Parlor] 5781.F.172b Stereograph

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List of Departments Plan of the Fair Building List of Departments Plan of the Fair Building General Views Subject Index Arms and Trophies Art Gallery Carriages Children's Department Corn Exchange State of Delaware Engine Department Horticultural Department State of New Jersey Photograph Department Relics and Curiosities Restaurant Sewing Machines Union Avenue William Penn Parlor