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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


The New York Times
December 26, 1909

More Than $30,000 Expended to Provide Artistic Spectacle for Annual Exhibition.


Novel Scheme to Attract Patrons—Garden Turned Into Huge Rathskeller—Colors to Harmonize.

An attractive decorative scheme has bee worked out for the tenth National Automobile Show, to be held in Madison Square Garden during the week of Jan. 8 to 15.  For six months the Show Committee of the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers, under whose auspices the affair is held, has been putting forth strenuous efforts in the work of preparing an adequate setting for the standard makes of motor cars.  Yearly it has been the aim of the show managers to provide a decorative scheme suitable to the exhibits, and at the same time furnish patrons of the show with a spectacle as artistic as it is practicable for so short a period.  More than $30,000 is being expended for decorations of the 1910 show.

The full description of the decorative scheme has been announced by the Show Committee, and discloses a Roman amphitheatre of dignified architectural design, which will constitute the decorative theme, and serve as a background for the exhibits.  The Garden interior this year will be richer and more magnificent than for any previous affair, although perhaps less profuse in treatment.  The bare walls, steel girders, and balconies of the structure will be lost to view, and the whole interior transformed.

In deciding upon the semblance to a Roman amphitheatre, the primary thought of the architect, and the Show Committee, consisting of Col. George Pope, Chairman; Charles Clifton, and Secretary M. L. Downs, was to get from the big modern amphitheatre a general impression of spaciousness, and no point was missed of which advantage might be taken.  The layout of the exhibitors' spaces, of the galleries, elevated platform, railings, and even the signs will lend themselves to this roomy effect.  At the early shows the ensemble of exhibits was cluttered with so much decorative frippery that the magnitude of the whole was not fully realized.  At the Garden next month no plaster casts, bunting, rubber plants, palms, or hanging bird cages will interrupt the general view. The idea of uniformity in the decorations will be carried out so completely that even the small spaces in the gallery will receive the same attention as those on the main floor.  White and gold will be the dominant colors in the scheme, although green and crimson also will be strongly in evidence.  The girders of the big dome will be screened by a canopy of 7,000 yards of fluffy azure blue, amid which myriad incandescent lamps will twinkle.  A score of huge arc lamps, with colored shades, will be pendant from the roof.

The exhibition spaces of the main floor and elevated platform will be carpeted with a fabric of light green to lend something toward an effect of the cars being on the turf. More than 6,000 square yards of carpeting will be used.  At brief intervals along both sides of the long aisles extending the length of the arena will be ornamental lamp-posts, eight feet high, finished in what is known as verd bronze.  Lettering on the posts will inform visitors of the names of the exhibitors adjoining and also direct them to the various departments of the show.  Fifty of these lamps will be on the main floor and about thirty will illuminate the exhibits on the elevated platform.

Entering the arena from the foyer, the visitor will be confronted by a Roman seat, extending about a fountain of pure design.  The seat will be on the front of a low abutment of gray stone and integral with it except where at intervals bay trees will be set in gaps provided for them.  The fountain will have a trough-like basin in which gold-fish will disport themselves amid natural pond lilies.  Interspersed with the natural flowers will be artificial water-plants and from the petals of these vari-colored lights will radiate.  In the centre and at each end water from the mouths of grotesque heads will spray upon a pool beneath made iridescent by cunningly concealed lights.  Overlooking and extending along both sides of the arena will be boxes which will seat more than 1,000 people.  These boxes, at former shows, were covered so as to form a background for the cars exhibited on the main floor.

Extending around the outer edge of the elevated platform and towering upward to the dome thirty classic Doric columns will lend much to the stateliness of the effect.  These columns will be actually 25 feet high, and on top of each will be the emblem of the show—a wheel surmounted by an American eagle.  Hugh green bronze lamps on brackets will swing from massive chains adown the column fronts.  The columns will be white, while the emblems will be old gold in color and illuminated by tiny electric lights.  Aside from their decorative value the use of these columns will add 7,000 square feet of exhibition space more than was available last year.  The elevated platform, which projects slightly over the main floor and over the boxes, also will be supported by white Doric brackets.  A white balustrade will extend all along the outer edge of the elevated platform, while the walls at the back will be coated with an imported cartridge paper of golden hue.  On these walls the exhibitors' names will appear in white letters on a board background of crimson.

In the general view there will be three balconies in the rear and in the front of the Garden interior, and but two on either side.  The exhibits of the cars and accessories on the elevated platform will be separated by an aisle.  Between the sky line and the vertical decorations, extending from column to column, will be hung richly colored garlands representing fruit and flowers.  The upper balconies will be edged with a railing of Greek latticework painted in white.

Nothing more novel has ever been introduced in decorations than the latticed arbor that will hood the exhibition hall.  The woodwork of the arbor will be white, and at the sides of the walls will be finished with golden cartridge paper, and thus the same color scheme of the main floor will be preserved.  Overhead twenty-four white sunbursts will hang, and an immense rosette will be suspended in the center of the hall.

In the concert hall another strikingly novel scheme will be presented.  Here the exhibits will appear beneath a canvas tent ceiling similar to that of a circus tent.  The same color scheme as that of the main floor will prevail here.

The basement is to be decked in a harmonious manner, similar to the treatment in the other departments of the big show.  A rathskeller of the Dutch Colonial type will be a feature.  It will be painted in cream white and beautifully adorned in autumnal foliage, which will trail to the top and overhang the two Doric columns at the entrance way.  The interior will be made to represent a genuine old tavern.  A big fireplace, surrounded with old logs, antique pots, andirons, and prongs, will be realistically worked out.

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