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The Worlds Fair and Exposition
Information and Reference Guide

1936-37 Great Lakes Exposition - Part 1


Index - Bookmarking Instructions


  • 84 facts and trivia nuggets plus 5 links to more resources.

  • The only page on the Internet dedicated to the 1936-37 Great Lakes Exposition.

  • The World's Fair and Exposition Information and Reference Guide is now on CD.
    11,216 facts and 1,362 web links covering 24 World's Fairs and Expositions.
    Further information can be found here.

  • To Convert Dollar Amounts to the Year 2003: divide the amount by .076


Page I (this page)
Cleveland: A Brief History (3) Statistics (16)
Main Sections (4) Exhibits and Attractions (30)
 Page II
Winterland (7) Largest Book in the World (1)
Silver Half Dollar (9) The Stadium (9)
Miscellaneous (5) Links (4)
  Books, Printed Material (2)
The Following are on the World's Fair CD
High Resolution Images (11) Bonus: Timeline 1936-37 (59)


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A Cleveland History Brief


  • Cleveland was part of the Western Reserve (aka Connecticut Western Reserve). The majority of inhabitants were Connecticut farmers whose lands were burned by the British during the War of Independence. The land was given to them by the state of Connecticut in compensation for their sacrifice. This area encompassed a 120-mile strip of land along the south shore of Lake Erie. A portion thereof was purchased by a group of investors calling themselves the Connecticut Land Company and later surveyed the "village" that eventually became Cleveland.

  • Cleveland was actually founded in 1796 by General Moses Cleaveland (the first 'a' was dropped by the city around 1830).

  • Cleveland is the birthplace of President James A Garfield.





  • Dates: June 27 - October 4,1936 (100 days),
               May 29 - September 6, 1937

  • Theme (1936): 100th Anniversary Celebration of Cleveland's Charter as a City.

  • Theme (1937): "Making of America".

  • Cost: $1.5 million - financed by public subscriptions.

  • Area: 55 hectares* (135 acres).

  • Visitors (1936): 4,000,000.

  • Visitors (1937): 3,000,000.

  • Entrance Gates: 7.

  • Parking Facilities: 32,000 cars.

  • Buildings: 186.

  • Nationality Villages: 35.

  • Landscape Architect: Donald Gray.

  • Benefit to City During the 2 years: $70,000,000

  • Construction began in April 1936 and took only 80 days to complete.

  • Permanent Improvements (3): Horticultural Building,
     Horticultural Gardens and the East Ninth Street Subway.

  • *One Hectare = 100 Ares (2.471 acres).


Main Sections



  • The Exposition grounds is divided into three natural geographic sections: 
    Upper Level, Lower Level and the Amusement Area.

  • Upper Level: Begins at the main entrance and contains the following:
    Court of Great Lakes, Court of the Presidents, Garfield Memorial Cabin, 
    Lakeside Exhibition Hall, Radioland, Sherwin-Williams Plaza

  • Lower Level: Crossing a bridge from the Upper Level begins the Lower Level 
    which consists of the: Amphitheatre, Automotive Building, Christian Science 
    Monitor Building, Enamel Building, Exposition Newspaper Headquarters, Firestone Buildings, Florida Exhibit Building, Hall of Progress, Higbee Building, Marine 
    Plaza, Municipal Stadium, Outdoor Exhibit Building, Standard Drug Building, 
    Western Reserve University Building. Adjoining the lake: Admiral Byrd's Flag Ship, Horticultural Building and Gardens, Showboat Night Club.

  • Amusement Area: Located on the eastern side of the Lower Level: Alpine Gardens, 
    Arcade, Archery Range, Bouquet of Life, Circus, Coast Guard Basin, Creation, 
    Front Page, Graham's Midgets, Goodyear Blimp, Gulliverland, Hollywood Motion 
    Picture Studio, Indian Village, International Circle, Lion Motordome, Mammy's Cabin, 
    Maple Sugar Camp, Monkeyland, Motorboating, Orrin Davenport's Riding School, 
    Pantheon De La Guerre, Photo Gallery, Shooting Gallery, Snake Show, Sportsman's Paradise, Sand Sculpture, Seaplane Rides, Shakespearian Plays, Spook Street, 
    Sports Show, Strange As It Seems, Streets of the World, Submarine, Television, 
    The Four Lorenzo's, World a Million Years Ago.



Exhibits and Attractions



  • Architecture at the Fair was described as "ultra-modern American... simple, straight forward, colorful and severe".

  • Streets of the World contained 150 buildings on 10 acres and represented the following nationalities: African, Armenian, Austrian, Belgian, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Hindu, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Jewish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Manx, Mexican, Norwegian, Polish, Rusin, Russian, Romanian, Scotch, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish, Swiss, Syrian, Ukrainian and Welsh. That's about 200 internationally kinds of coffee.

  • A Topographical 3-D map of the Great Lakes. Unique because few people were flying then.

  • Television made an appearance... over wire. You could see a "three times life size"  visual reproduction of yourself and make a talking record.

  • World's Largest Light Bulb was displayed - 50,000 watts and the size of a beach ball.

  • Sportsman's Paradise: A 30 by 80 foot pool (filled with perch, pike and bass) where visitors can catch their dinner. Prizes were awarded for catching larger fish.

  • The Studebaker exhibit (Automotive Building) housed the state carriage of Abraham Lincoln. The state carriage was made by Studebaker and given to Lincoln as a gift from the people of New York. It was used by him on the night of his assassination. Other famous carriages included those form Presidents Harrison, Grant and McKinley, and the Marquis de Lafayette.

  • The Showboat: A floating nightclub moored in Lake Erie. It occupied an entire level of the 350 foot, million dollar steel ship, SS Moses Cleaveland. Entrance was gained by gangplank or hanging ladder.

  • Actual size model homes. Where a typical small brick house would cost $7500.

  • An art room memorializing Archibald Willard, who painted "The Spirit of '76".

  • A $12,000 relief map of the City of Cleveland.

  • The Pageant, "Parade of the Years", was presented on a triple stage covering 26,500 square feet.

  • The Newspaper Headquarters provided reporters form all over the country with desks, typewriters, wire service, telephone service and a garage for press cars.

  • Radioland was touted as the world's largest broadcasting studio. Radio acts were performed before "Fair goers" during the day and then rebroadcast over the air at night. Stars included: Fibber McGee and Molly, Irene Rich, Showboat, Ed Wynn, the Sinclair Minstrels and Ben Rubin's National Amateur Night. Local Cleveland radio stations (WTAM, WJAY, WHK and WGAR) broadcast regularly form the studio.

  • The 1000 foot Horticultural Gardens contained more than 100,000 flowers, trees and shrubs. And featured "a 500 foot hillside with rock gardens, waterfalls and rare plants ...".



  • The Florida Building displayed the chair in which Jefferson Davis occupied while president of the Confederate states.

  • The Firestone Exhibit displayed a complete farm including the barn, live cows and chickens and actual farm equipment from the farm of Harvey Firestone.

  • The Standard Drug Building contained a 120 foot soda counter.

  • 150 troops from the 11th Infantry at Fort Benjamin Harrison setup camp at Blimp Field.

  • The Globe Theatre was a reproduction of Shakespeare's own playhouse and featured 
    14 of his plays. Across the street was a reproduction of Charles Dickens's "The Old Curiosity Shoppe".

  • The Front Page crime exhibit contained a naturally dehydrated body and a 'death mask'.

  • Monkey's drove cars in Monkeyland.

  • Transportation on the Fair grounds included Greyhound buses, 200 roller chairs and "Jinrikisha's" powered by college students.

  • The Romance of Fire and Steel exhibit featured a full sized cast house of a blast furnace and working models of a blooming mill, a two-high automatic mill, and a galvanizing mill. Plus one could walk in a full sized replica of a 125 ton ladle used for pouring molten steel.

  • A finger printing bureau run by the police department gave visitors a free card copy of their finger prints.

  • The Tower of Light was the tallest building at the Exposition.

  • In the Western Reserve University Building, Dr Harold Booth continued his research experiments in an actual working laboratory.

  • A replica of President James A Garfield's log cabin was constructed and displayed near the main entrance. Garfield was born in Cleveland.

  • 31 Kiowa Indians from the Riverside Indian School in Oklahoma entertained in the International Circle. Kiowa are Plains Indian's who speak a Kiowa-Tanoan language and lived on a reservation in Oklahoma since 1875.

  • Other unusual attractions included: Mammy's Cabin, Graham's Midgets, Monkey Land, Spook Street, the "Flying Lorenzo Brothers", Lion Motordome, Front Page (a crime exhibit), Gulliverland, Pantheon de la Guerre, an Embryological exhibit, 260-pound ballerinas, sand sculptures, an 8-foot-4-inch man, snake shows, boxing cats, a 90-pound sturgeon, and believe-it-or-nots .



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