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Buffalo was the nation's largest grain port at the beginning of the 20th Century and a major flour-milling center. The Niagara River's hydroelectricity was first used by local mills. After the Spanish-American War ended, Buffalo hosted the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, which showcased the nation's achievements in art, architecture, and electricity. The Electric Tower with more than two million light bulbs was its centerpiece. However, some exhibits were too jingoistic or racially charged. President William McKinley was assassinated at the exposition by Leon Czolgosz, the anarchist. Theodore Roosevelt was sworn into office at the Wilcox Mansion, Buffalo when McKinley passed away.
John Milburn, an attorney, and local industrialists convinced the Lackawanna Iron and Steel Company in Scranton to move from Scranton to West Seneca, Pennsylvania in 1904. There was a lot of competition for employment, as many Scrantonians and Eastern Europeans were competing for the same jobs. In the period from the late 19th century through the 1920s, mergers & acquisitions resulted in the loss of ownership of local businesses. This had a negative impact on the city's economic health. Some examples include the Bethlehem Steel acquisition of Lackawanna Steel and the later relocation of Curtiss-Wright during the 1940s. The Great Depression saw extreme unemployment, particularly among the working classes. New Deal relief programs were fully in force and the city was a stronghold for labor unions as well as the Democratic Party.