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The Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City: Spectacle and Assassination at the 1901 World's Fair
May 2019 > Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City

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Kath | 203 comments Mod
Hey All --
Denise will be leading our next discussion in May on The Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City by Margaret Creighton. Discussion of this book will be held at an in-person meeting after the Spring semester ends, during the week of May 13th. Specific date/time/place to be nailed down as we get closer. We will also continue the discussion online after the meeting for anyone not able to attend the in-person discussion.
That’s all for now – enjoy the rest of your semester!

Kath | 203 comments Mod
Good morning, Everyone –
Just a reminder that Denise will lead our last book club meeting of the semester as we discuss The Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City by Margaret Creighton.

Date: Tuesday, May 14th
Time: 12:30pm
Place: To be determined – depending on the weather

For those unable to attend, I will post notes for discussion after the meeting.

Kath | 203 comments Mod
Sorry for the very belated notes on our May discussion of The Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City by Margaret Creighton. My notes may be sketchy so others should feel free to chime in and/or correct me!

Several members convened to discuss the book and we were joined by Laura Taddeo, the University Libraries Interim Head of Collections and Head of our Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Team. Laura is also a member of the One Community, One Book panel that chooses the annual community book selection. Laura attended an event with Margaret Creighton held in a private home as well as the public talk held at the Clarence library and started off our discussion with a few interesting facts that she learned during the author talk and Q&A:

• About the author:
--The author grew up in Buffalo but has lived in Maine for 30 years.
--The “Fall” in the title is a dual reference to both autumn and decline; her editors tried to persuade her away from this title but she wouldn’t be swayed.
--The author was very personally interested in the cruel treatment of the animals and development of the SPCA.
• About the book:
--Most attendees at the fair were women.
--Attendance at the expo declined due to the harvest time, not the assassination.

Part of our group discussion centered on the animal treatment as well like the sections on the dog feast (including people offering up their pets for feasting), the electrocuted elephant, the elk jump. Also discussed how cruel Bostock was and how easy it was for him to evade charges as he kept moving around and continued working even while being charged with cruelty in every location he worked.

We discussed the very lengthy notes that accompanied the text; one critique we discussed was that the author tried to cover so many topics that she was not able to dig too deeply into many. Also, the brief section at the end relating to the decline of the city of Buffalo felt unnecessary and shallowly covered; the whole ending seemed written in a rush to wrap up the book.

Other topics of discussion or comment:
• The beginning of asphalt streets
• Fair being expensive: admission was $ .50 in 1902 would equate to $16/day in current funds.
• Czolgosz = anarchist/fringe or mentally unbalanced?
• McKinley: a civil war hero; the belief that he was recovering before he died.
• Annie Edson Taylor: is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls on Portage Road.
• Teddy Roosevelt: big game hunter and conservationist
• Chiquita: how we all hoped for more info on her
• Private women’s area at the Expo
• Idea of the fair focusing on the Americas over Europe

I had mentioned seeing some artifacts from this time period at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum on Porter Ave. but couldn’t remember what. Online I found information that in 2001 the permanent exhibit at this location called the McKinley Room included the following: Key documents on display include:
• Czolgosz's Signed Confession (the convicted assassin)
• The Official Accident Report (lists McKinley's condition as "not serious")
• The Official Arrest Report
• Photos (including last known photo of McKinley before he was shot)
• Contemporary Newspaper Accounts

The nine national Karpeles Museums rotate their collections so I’m not sure if these documents are currently housed in the Buffalo location.

Lastly, Laura told us the One Community One Book initiative is soliciting ideas for their next book selection. Their selections in the past have varied in topic but the committee tries to select titles that would allow for collaboration across both the public and university communities and where YA versions of a title are available. If you have titles you’d like to suggest, feel free post them here or contact Laura Taddeo directly at ltaddeo@buffalo.edu.

Ellen | 224 comments Thanks for taking these notes, Kathy! You did a great job.

I liked this book because I learned so many different aspects of the Pan Am Expo that I never knew about. And I liked the way the book put it into the context of Buffalo at that time and emphasized how the locals attended the event many times. Events such as these were so lengthy in their duration, unlike the fairs and carnivals that we are more used to today.

We compared it to The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.

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