The respective sites where Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy were assassinated remain venerated places where people talk in hushed whispers and time appears to stand still. In contrast, only a small plaque in the middle of a grassy road median denotes the place where William McKinley was assassinated.
On September 6, 1901 McKinley greeted the public while visiting the Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY. While shaking hands, Leon F. Czolgosz approached the President with a handkerchief covering the revolver he held in his right hand. Believing Czolgsz’s right hand was injured; McKinley reached to shake his left hand instead. As the two men’s hands touched, Czolgosz shot McKinley twice in the abdomen. McKinley was rushed into surgery but the bullets could not be located. Thomas Edison even sent over a primitive xray machine to try and locate the bullets still lodged in McKinley’s body. Although McKinley initially appeared to be recovering, he died eight days later from infection. Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as President in the nearby Wilcox House in downtown Buffalo on September 14th.
Czolgosz was tried, convicted, and electrocuted the following October. The Temple of Music, along with most other exposition buildings were demolished by 1903. The grounds were then cleared and subdivided into residential streets, homes, and park land. On June 28, 1921, the Buffalo Historical Society unveiled a small boulder, bearing a bronze tablet, to mark the site of the former Pan-American Temple of Music in which President McKinley was fatally shot. The plaque, set in the middle of Fordham Drive between Elmwood Ave. and Lincoln Parkway, reads: “In the Pan-American Temple of Music which covered this spot, President McKinley was fatally shot Sept. 6, 1901.”
A small boulder in the middle of a residential median strip seems like a rather underwhelming reminder of a tragic presidential murder, but hey, when you’re McKinley, you’ll take what you can get.
Know Before You Go
In the middle of the road median near 35 Fordham Drive.