Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Civil War Sanitary Fairs

The Great Central Fair, 1864

A painting of the sanitary fair buildings on Logan Square in 1864. The image shows the large american flag at the center of the complex, the main hall that cut through the middle of the square, and smaller buildings attached to the main hall. There are some trees in between the buildings, and you can see the skyline of Philadelphia in the background.

The Great Central Fair in Logan Square, 1864. (Library of Congress)

Library of Congress

The structures housing the Great Central Fair were as spectacular as the contents. Built in just forty working days by volunteer craftsmen, the 200,000- square-foot complex featured Union Avenue, a 540-foot-long, flag-festooned central hall over which soared gothic arches. The Avenue was flanked by rotundas to the south and north and other outbuildings, all interconnected by bustling exhibit corridors. Presiding over the entire Fair site was the Stars and Stripes, unfurled on a 216-foot flagpole.

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