Focus on History: Progress Exposition showcased Amsterdam in 1925


America was prospering 95 years ago as local business and industry staged Amsterdam’s Progress Exposition and Auto Show in September 1925.

“In the twenties, that was the heyday here,” said anthropologist Susan Dauria.

“The population was about 35,000, the biggest it’s ever been.”

Dauria wrote her doctoral dissertation on the rise and decline of 20th century manufacturing in Amsterdam.

The Progress Exposition was organized by the Board of Trade, a predecessor of the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Inspired by a similar exposition in Schenectady, the event was held for eight days at Ross’s Flats in the East End, next to the railroad tracks.

Admission was 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for children.

The Recorder reported that on opening day people “stormed the entrance” which was dominated by a large windmill to emphasize Amsterdam’s Dutch roots.

Mayor Carl Salmon opened the festivities saying Amsterdam had “diversified industries” and it was time to show people what was “made and done here.”

State Senator William Byrne, a native of the nearby town of Florida, said it was time to put Amsterdam on the map.

One “mammoth tent” was dedicated to the display of automobiles.

Standard Oil of New York showed off a gasoline pump.

Schenectady General Electric furnished floodlights.

There were large tents containing more than a hundred booths where manufacturers and businesses showed and sold their wares.

During the lead up to the event, downtown department store Holzheimer and Shaul increased the number of booths it rented from five to nine.

Holzheimer’s booths looked like store windows.

A cardboard cutout of a young girl was behind a new Hoover vacuum cleaner.

A mannequin wearing an apron was amid a display of Glenwood gas and wood stoves.

To tout the city’s role in making rugs, Holzheimer’s put a Sanford carpet on the sidewalk in front of its East Main Street store during the Exposition.

The carpet mills—Stephen Sanford & Sons and Mohawk—had booths in the Exposition, as did other manufacturers.

The whole city is “in gala attire” wrote the Schenectady Gazette.

The Gazette reported that a Main Street parade preceded opening night, “All the industrial concerns and stores in this city have been invited to have their old employees in point of service participate in the parade, as the parade will feature those who have had a part in the building up of Amsterdam.”

The city health department held a perfect child contest to promote healthy children and 150 children entered the competition.

Winner of the infant and toddler category was Gloria Yerick, 20-months-old, from Mathias Avenue.

Winner of the older child contest was four-year-old Donald Feldeman of East Main Street.

There were also fashion and pet shows.

Among the entertainers was a precocious five-year-old local dancer, Elaine Marie Caruso of Grant Avenue.

For the exposition’s last night, Larrabee’s hardware store manager E. Warner Leavenworth secured a native Hawaiian band.

In Amsterdam since 1882, Fitzgerald’s Bottling Works offered ginger ale for 5 cents a bottle.

“The safest drinks—kills disease germs,” stated a poster.

The Walter Elwood Museum in Amsterdam has a book of pictures of the Progress Exposition taken by local photographer Emil Zillgitt.

One picture shows the booth of Monroe Gray who was selling suburban lots at Tribes Hill Heights, west of Amsterdam.

“A lot means a home and a home means a lot,” stated a poster.

Gray was seated, smartly dressed in a three-piece suit with well-shined shoes, holding a rolled up blueprint.

Gray had blueprints of the lots and pictures of homes stacked on a table underneath an American flag.

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