In September of 1910, the manufacturers of Davenport held the first “Made in Davenport” Exposition from Monday, September 12 to the following Saturday evening.
According to an article in the Davenport Democrat on September 11, an ‘army of carpenters and decorators’ descended on the 300 block of West 2nd Street to transform it into something to rival the World’s Fair—or at least the Rock Island Exposition across the river. It was anticipated that the people of Davenport “will marvel that so many things can be made in Davenport and they will see many things that they never before dreamed were made here.”
With seventy-three businesses participating, this prediction was most likely fulfilled.
Storefront shops and downtown businesses offered their windows and lobbies to the manufacturers, cramming as much as possible into the available spare space. The Economy Rug Company set up a giant loom in the lobby of the Iowa Theater and the Davenport Wagon Company lined the street with their newest innovations. The photographs of the committee in charge of the Exhibition—Robert Bretscher, Fred Kunkel, and R. L. Miller—were frozen in a slab of ice, provided by the Tri-City Plate Ice Company and displayed under lights provided by Tri-City Electric.
And, naturally, the Eagle Bottling works and the Independent Malting Company malt manufacturers joined forces to make a very merry exhibition of themselves, indeed.
Hundreds of spectators thronged the exhibits throughout the week and on Wednesday night, all the stores stayed open until ten o’clock and a 25-piece band provided music to entertain the crowds who were fascinated with the demonstrations.
The Exposition was considered a terrific success: it not only educated Davenporters on the businesses of their own city and boosted civic pride, it provided a financial boost to those businesses as well—manufacturers raked in the orders and many who had set up vending booths reportedly sold out their ready stock.
We wonder how many of us would be surprised at all the items manufactured in Davenport today?
“Exhibits Reader for 300 Block Show: ‘Made in Davenport’ Exposition to Open this Week. Davenport Democrat, 11September1910, p.20.
“Great Exhibits in the ‘300’ block.” Davenport Democrat, 12September1910, p. 4.
“Interested throng sees Home Products.” Davenport Democrat, 14September1910, p.10
“Manufacturers’ Display is Proving a Great Success.” Davenport Daily Times, 14September1910, p. 4.