LOCATING THE EXPOSITION The location of a public enterprise deemed to be of general benefit to a whole community, but of special and increased advantage to the locality immediately surrounding the institution itself, is generally attended with special effort on the part of those having opportunity for benefits, real or imaginary, toward the selection of the location which seems calculated to best advance their interests. This is an altogether human feeling, in consonance with the commercialism of this Age and, as all cannot be benefited in the same degree by the same cause, it follows naturally that a rivalry should spring up over the location of such a project as an Exposition of magnitude. At all events, such was true in this case. Immediately upon organization of the exposition Corporation the site question came to the front. Council Bluffs was first in the field, advocating the choice of a site in East Omaha, east of Cut-Off Lake, on land which, while on the west side of the Missouri River, was really in the state of Iowa. The Council Bluffs Exposition Committee, appointed by the Manufacturers and Merchants Association of that city, presented resolutions to the Board of Directors on February 10th 1896, stating that all support and aid from Council Bluffs should be conditioned upon the choosing of the location urged by them, otherwise they would withdraw their support. On February 23rd a Mass-meeting of the citizens of Council Bluffs was heldin the Superior Court Room of the County Court House to consider the Exposition and their participation in it. They promptly passed resolutions as follows: "Resolved, that the Merchant's and Manufacturer's Association of Council Bluffs, meeting in conjunction with other citizens, heartily approve of the proposed Exposition and that they render what help they can to the project, Provided; that any National, state or city aid shall be conditioned upon an assurance that the Exposition shall be located on a site within the boundaries of what is known as East Omaha, such assurance to be in the form of a joint pledge on the part of the Directory of the Exposition Company and the East Omaha Land Company. And be it further resolved that we request our representatives at Washington and Des Moines to use their efforts to secure liberal appropriations for this project, Provided: that such appropriations are made subject to the foregoing condition, and to otherwise oppose any appropriations sought." These resolutions with a large map of the proposed location, were printed in the Daily Nonpareil of that city and copies were mailed to all the members of Congress, the Iowa Legislature, state officers and to each of the Directors and Officers of the Exposition. In Omaha the advocates made haste to present arguments and petitions in favor of various sites, viz: Elmwood Park, Southwest part of the city, Riverview Park, in Southeast part of city, Miller Park, north of the city, Hanscom Park location, in Southwest part of city but closer in than Elmwood Park, was later put forward as a most advantageous location. The Board of Directors, while admiring the zeal and enthusiasm of the various advocates, yet deplored the seeming anxiety to locate something that was not yet secured, being proposed and planned only. On February 28th, 1896, the Board of Directors deemed it wise to define their position on the subject, and the following was prepared and adopted by them. "WHEREAS, to secure the largest success to the proposed Exposition, entire harmony of feeling and effort should exist, to the entire exclusion of personal and corporate interests, and WHEREAS, it is deemed unwise and impracticable to endeavor to hold said Exposition without the recognition of Congress, and National encouragement through appropriations providing for National buildings and Exhibits, THEREFORE, Resolved that for the purpose of carrying out the purpose of the proposed Exposition, it is indispensably necessary, First, That an Act of Congress be passed, recognizing and endorsing the Exposition and providing an adequate appropriation for National Buildings and Exhibits. Second, The securing of subscriptions to the capital stock of this corporation to an amount sufficient to guarantee the successful promotion and conducting of the enterprise to a complete and honorable conclusion. And, Resolved, That until the foregoing pre-requisite aids are secured, we deem it impolitic, inopportune, and unwise to discuss or seriously consider the matter of the location. For, until said necessary aids are secured we cannot assume that there is any Exposition to locate. And Be it Further Resolved, That at the proper time a fair and impartial hearing will be given to all parties interested in the various sites proposed, and that a location will be selected with due and fair consideration to the interests of all concerned." This action calmed the sea that was becoming troubled, and all interests united to aid in securing pre-requisite aids. In October, 1896, the aids referred to having been secured, the site boomers were to the fore again, and each location had its special representatives. The greatest verbal argument and epistolatory efforts were devoted to the Miller Park and Riverview Park sites; though, as time passed the Hanscom Park site's advantages seemed to become more and more prominent. The meeting of stockholders had been called to meet December 1st, 1896 and great were the efforts to secure proxies of stockholders, that Directors favorable to this or to that site might be aided to an election. The new Board of Directors having been duly elected, were at once in the midst of a contention over the matter of location and proceeded to consider and determine the subject without delay. December 16th, 1896, the Board of Directors adopted the following resolutions. "Resolved, that the selection of the site for location of the Exposition, and the appointment of all committees, officers or agents to investigate proposed sites shall be made by the full Board of Directors, and that these questions shall not be settled, nor any powers delegated by the Board of Directors, except by majority vote at a meeting regularly called for that purpose. "Resolved, That the secretary is hereby authorized to receive sealed proposals for the location of the Exposition until Saturday noon, January 9th, 1897, and shall open and read said propositions to this Board of Directors at a meeting which shall be held at 2 o'clock p.m. on Saturday, January 9th, 1897. "Resolved, That said propositions shall specify, 1st,- The number of acres of land offered, and the boundaries thereof. 2nd,- The use of what streets, roads and private ways approaching said land, which will be open for public use during the construction and operation of the Exposition. 3rd.- All other inducements, including donations or subscriptions of stock, which may be offered." ______________ January 9th, 1896. (sic.) 45 Directors present. The responses to the request for propositions for location for the Exposition were then opened and read by the secretary. Propositions were received covering the following locations. Riverview Park and adjacent thereto. East Omaha Site. Hanscom Park and North and West of same. Miller Park and adjacent thereto. Elmwood Park and the state Fair Grounds. After the reading, the following resolution was presented and adopted "Resolved, That a committee of three (3) be appointed, consisting of Casper E. Yost, J. H. Millard and R. S. Wilcox, to whom shall be referred all the propositions pertaining to the selection of the site for the location of the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition; and that said committee be authorized and empowered to employ a good non-resident engineer and a good non-resident Landscape Architect to carefully go over and examine all of the proposed sites and make out a report in writing of their findings and conclusions pertaining to the sites which have been proposed. Said report, when so prepared to be delivered to said committee and by them referred to the full Board of Directors at a special meeting to be called January 23rd, 1897 at 2 o'clock p.m. for action, without any recommendations of said committee as to its views or conclusions, as to the most desirable site to be selected." __________________ January 23rd, 1897. 49 Directors present. Owing to the disposition to defer the opening and reading of the Report of Committee on Sites, until after the Nebraska Legislature had taken action on the bill in aid of the Exposition, and now pending, it was ordered that the committee shall have two weeks from this date, in which to hand in its report. February 6th, 1897. 42 Directors present. The Chairman of the Committee on Site submitted the report of the Committee, bearing the date of January 18th, 1897, to which was attached the report of the experts employed,- Messrs. A.C. Shrader and H.C. Alexander, both of Chicago, Ill. The Committee stated that their recommendations or the selection of the grounds for the Exposition was based upon the following points: First,- Topography and general availability of the grounds for building purposes. Second,- Transportation facilities by Street car, steam railway and other vehicles. Third,- Sewerage and water supply. Fourth,- Distance from Post Office. The report recommended the sites as to their availability, as follows: First, Miller Park Second, Miller Park (sic).) Third, Hanscom Park Fourth, Riverview Park Fifth, East Omaha Site On motion, it was ordered that report be received, filed and published in the paper. The following was then presented and adopted. "Resolved, That when this Board adjourns it be until Tuesday next, February 9th, at 2 o'clock P.M. to act upon the selection of an Exposition site and that supporters of all sites be required to present at that time,- First,- Proof of the character of the legal title and of power of possession. Second,- Proof and specification of the sufficiency of approaches, including both public highways and trackage, and maps of the ground offered. Third,- A bond of $5,000.00 conditioned to furnish possession and approaches without expense to the Exposition, and that free and unobstructed use of the site shall be given to the Exposition; that the site so selected by the Directors shall be at their disposal whenever the Directors ask for it, and continue during the Exposition and thereafter until the Exposition Directors shall have removed all Exhibits, structures, etc., not later than April 1st, 1899. Fourth,- That the promoters of each site shall be given ten minutes at the meeting on Tuesday in which to present the merits of their proposed site." _____________________ February 9th, 1897. 39 Directors present. It was a decided that the proposed sites be called in alphabetical order. This was done and their merits were set forth by their representatives, as follows: East Omaha No Representative. Elmwood Park Mr. W.R. Bennett. Hanscom Park Hon. W.J. Connell. Miller Park Mr. R.W. Richardson. Riverview Park Hon. E.J. Cornish. The following resolution was then offered and adopted: "Resolved, That in selection of site for Exposition, a majority of Directors shall be necessary to constitute a choice, and that as ballotting proceeds, in each ballot the site receiving least number of votes shall be dropped, until two sites only remains, and that ballotting shall then proceed until one of such sites shall receive a majority of the entire Board of Directors." Ballotting then proceeded as follows: First Ballot, Miller Park 19, Hanscom Park 13, Riverview Park 4, Elmwood Park 1. Park 4, Elmwood Park 1. Second Ballot, Miller Park 21, Hanscom Park 15, Riverview Park 1. Third Ballot, Miller Park 21 Hanscom Park 16 Fourth Ballot, Miller Park 23 Hanscom Park 16 Fifth Ballot, Miller Park 22 Hanscom Park 16 Sixth Ballot, Miller Park 22 Hanscom Park 17 Seventh Ballot, Miller " 22 Hanscom " 17 Eighth Ballot, Miller " 22 Hanscom " 17 Ninth Ballot, Miller " 22 Hanscom " 17 Tenth Ballot, Miller " 21 Hanscom " 17 Eleventh Ballot, Miller " 21 Hanscom " 15 Twelfth Ballot, Miller " 21 Hanscom " 14 Thirteenth Ballot, Miller " 20 Hanscom " 15 Fourteenth Ballot, Miller " 23 Hanscom " 13 Fifteenth Ballot, Miller " 23 Hanscom " 13 Sixteenth Ballot, Miller " 21 Hanscom " 12 Seventeenth Ballot, Miller " 23 Hanscom " 12 Moved to adjourn until to-morrow evening, February 10th at 8 o'clock P.M. and that secretary get expression from every Director absent, and that on to-morrow evening the written reply of those absent be permitted vote, as if present. Agreed to. Adjourned. _____________ February 10th, 1897. 36 Directors present on rollcall. After some preliminary skirmishing, a ballot was proceeded with, resulting as follows: 18th Ballot, MILLER PARK,-- Babcock, Bidwell, Brown, Bruce, Creighton, Hibbard, Hussie, Jardine, Kilpatrick, Kountz, Lee, Lyman, Markel, Metz, Millard, Murphy, Paxton, Rector, Saunders, Wattles, Webster, Weller, Wells, Wharton, Wilcox, Wilhelm, Yost, Youngs, Total,--28. HANSCOM PARK,-- Brandeis, Carpenter, Dickenson, Evans, Farrell, Hitchcock, Holdrege, Johnson, Kimball, Kirkendall, Korty, Lindsey, Manderson, Montgomery, Noyes, Payne, Price, Reed, Rosewater, Smith, (Arthur C.) Smith (Dudley) Thompson, Total,--22. The following Directors were voted on letters and telegrams received by the secretary. Bidwell, Babcock, Dickenson, Evans, Kirkendall, Korty, Lee, Markel, Paxton, Rosewater, Smith (Dudley), Thompson, Wilcox, Wells. Mr. Manderson moved that Miller Park be the unanimous choice of the Directors for the location of the Exposition. Carried unanimously by a standing vote. Mr. Connell moved three cheers for Miller Park and the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition. And thus did the location seem to be finally chosen,- but such was not the fact. Mr. Kirkendall, as Manager of Department of Buildings and Grounds, had visited the Miller Park site frequently, and was much impressed with the feeling that the location was too far from the city, (something more than four miles) and feared the distance would tend to minimize the city attendance, an important factor in Exposition attendance. He quietly sought to ascertain if a nearer site could not be so arranged for, as to be available, and being successful in this, he advised with the Executive Committee concerning it, resulting, at Director's meeting of March 13th, in appointment of a committee under the following: "Whereas, a public demand has risen for the location of the Exposition at point at near as possible to the business center of the city, therefore, Resolved, That it is the sense of this Board that, if proper arrangements can be made, the old Fair Grounds site should be selected as the location of the Exposition. For action upon this matter the President is hereby authorized to appoint a special committee of three, consisting of the President, Mr. Kirkendall and Mr. Wharton, to consider the details of a proposition to locate at the old Fair Grounds site. This Committee shall report in full at an adjourned session of this meeting of the Board of Directors, to be held at 4 o'clock P.M., Wednesday, March 17th, 1897." At said meeting the Committee reported at length and in detail, in effect,that sufficient ground could be secured for the purposes of the Exposition, lying between 24th Street east to the river bluff east of Sherman Avenue, and from Pinckney Street, north to Ames Avenue, and at an expense, practically, of the taxes for the years 1897 and 1898. Mr. Herman Kountz generously offered, not only the use of what was called the Kountz tract, but offered to sell to the Exposition 11 acres of said tract for $15,000.00, of which amount he would donate $5,000. The said tract to be deeded to the city of Omaha and to be forever kept maintained by the city as a Park, and to be known and called Kountz Park. The opportunity being so favorable it was,- "Resolved, That the action of this Board, locating the Exposition at the Miller Park site, be reconsidered, and if so reconsidered, the vote thereafter shall be taken upon a relocation at Miller Park site from the Old Fair Grounds site; and that no other site be considered, and that voting by proxy, either by letter or wire, be received as to such relocation." The vote on the proposition was then taken, resulting in 37 votes in favor of the resolution and no votes against. The details in connection with the leasing and purchase of the required properties, was by vote, referred to the Executive Committee, who completed alldetails, secured all needed lands, executed the leases and arranged with Mr. Herman Kountz for lease of what was termed the "Kountz Tract": and arranged with him also for purchase of 11 acres to comprise what should be called KountzPark. Which agreement was prepared and presented to the Board of Directors at meeting July 9th, 1897. Resolutions approving the agreement and authorizing its execution, were adopted as follows: "Resolved, That the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition accepts the proposition of the United Real Estate and Trust Company with reference to the donation by said company of tract of number one (1) to the city of Omaha for park purposes and the purchase from said company of tract number two (2) by said Exposition to be by said Exposition donated to said city for park purposes, which proposition is contained and said tracts described in a written contract and lease entered into on the 17th day of April, 1897, by and between said Exposition and said company, and that, in full compliance with, and absolute discharge of, all of its obligations arising or existing by virtue of said proposition and with reference to said tracts, said company be, and is hereby authorized and directed to execute a good and sufficient deed, conveying to the city of Omaha, both of said tracts, subject to the following conditions: first,- That said tracts of land shall forever be conjointly used and maintained as a public park, with the right of the city of Omaha to erect and maintain on either or both thereof, any park or other buildings suitable and proper to be erected and maintained on park grounds; second That said tracts of land shall forever be conjointly designated and known as Kountz Park; third,- That during the years 1897, 1898 and 1899, no curbing, paving or macadamizing shall be placed or laid on Twentieth Street in said city, from Locust to Pinckney Street, at the cost of the owners of the property abutting upon said portion of Twentieth Street; fourth,- That one or more drive-ways and walks shall be constructed and forever maintained through both of said tracts from east to west, which shall be kept open at all times, for public use, and subject to such reasonable limitations, rules and regulations as may be prescribed by the Board of Park Commissioners or by the Mayor and Council of said city; fifth,- That during the year 1897 the sum of, at least, five thousand dollars ($5,000) shall be expended by said city through its Board of Park Commissioners, in making improvements upon said tracts; sixth,- That the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, a corporation organized and existing under and by virtue of the laws of the state of Nebraska, for the purpose of holding an exposition in said city, shall have the right to use both of said tracts for exposition purposes, during the years 1897, 1898 and, if required by the said Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, during the year 1899. And said United Real Estate and Trust Company be, and is hereby further authorized and directed to execute a deed, conveying to said city, for street purposes, and as a public street for the use and benefit of the property abutting thereon, and of the public, the strip of land lying between said tracts; that both of said conveyances shall be subject to the taxes upon the lands described therein, which may be levied and those which may become delinquent during the year 1897, and of the right to the use and occupation in and to said lands of the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition; that the secretary of the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition be, and is hereby authorized and directed to deliver to the First National Bank of Omaha, Nebraska, a certified check of said Exposition, in the sum of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) in payment of said tract number two (2), in accordance with said proposition, and with directions to said bank to deliver said check to said United Real Estate and Trust Company only upon the delivery of said deeds by said city, and upon the delivery to said Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition of the certified check of said United Real Estate and Trust Company in the sum of five thousand dollars ($5,000) which shall be in full of the donation agreed to be made to said Exposition by said company in said written contract." The site as secured and used, and the properties comprising same are specifically designated on the following plat of grounds. Thus was the location finally determined upon, secured and used, and great credit must be given to Manager Kirkendall for discovering and his discretion in practically securing this location. For without this change of location, it is certain that the financial success which came to the Exposition, would not have been realized, for nothing seems to be more certainly proven that, an Exposition to be successful, must be located as near the center of population as is possible, that easy, quick and comfortable access thereto may be had.