1846 New York State Fair Attracted Many Spectators to Auburn Prison

face of a prisoner

The large number of spectators at Auburn prison in 1846 is the result of the New York State Fair, held in Auburn on September 16 and 17 of that year. The New York State Agricultural Society established the first New York State Fair in 1841. In its evening edition of Sept. 17, 1846, the Albany Atlas reported on that year’s State Fair at Auburn:

The preparations for it have been unusually elaborate and extended, and the exhibition has, no doubt, exceeded that of any former year. The weather has been exceedingly propitious…. The {Cayuga} Tocsin of the 15’th says that an unusually large number of persons arrived on the previous day, and that the streets of Auburn have been literally thronged. Amongst the distinguished gentlemen, it adds, who have arrived, we noticed Ex-President Van Buren, F.P. Blair, Esq., Senator Beckman, and many others, amongst them some of the ablest Editors in the State.^

In Sept. 1846, Auburn prison received 5323 spectators. This monthly figure was 42% of the total number of spectators in 1846. From Oct. 1831 to Apr. 1862, the next largest monthly number of spectators was in Sept. 1840. The number of spectators in Sept. 1846 was about three times as large as that in Sept. 1840.

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