Several European nations were represented at the New Orleans exposition. Exhibits from Great Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Spain, and Russia were located in the central portion of the Main Building, on either side of Music Hall. Among these countries, Great Britain, France, Belgium, and Russia had government-endorsed displays; while Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, and Spain were represented by commercially-sponsored exhibits. Great Britain and France displayed their various manufactures, consisting mainly of bronzes, china, pottery, textiles, furniture, and other household goods. Belgium's exhibit was comprehensive, representing both the manufactures and industries of the kingdom, including over 500 types of textiles. Germany and Austria-Hungary showed decorative items, furniture, and glassware, in addition to textiles, consisting of silks, velvets, and grenadines. Italy's exhibit, from private firms, consisted of a large display of Venetian glassware, bronzeware, and marble statuary. Spain had a very small exhibit, also from private firms, of Spanish handiwork. Russia was represented by a large display of furs, malachite, soaps, perfumes, porcelains, woven tapestries, embroidery & lacework, and representations of the timber, flax, and tallow industries. Overall, the European nations, with the exception of Belgium, were highly criticized for their lack of comprehensive displays.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Located in the southern portion of the New Orleans exposition's Main Building, the Empire of Japan's large exhibit was exclusively a commercially-sponsored display. Many ornate and delicate articles were shown, such as vases, cloisonne work, carvings of ivory, bronzeware, detailed embroideries, and lacquered screens. The paper-making industry was well represented, as was the mining industry. An extensive educational exhibit occupied a large portion of Japan's space, and displayed methods of schooling from kindergarten through college. The Agricultural College presented an exhibit of seventy-two types of woods and twenty-five varieties of bamboo. Local New Orleans author, Lafcadio Hearn, was so entranced by the Japanese displays that he soon began a new phase of his career, and left Louisiana to travel extensively throughout Japan. Despite the variety and educational value of the exhibits contained within the Japanese section, most critics viewed it as overly commercial.
Friday, November 28, 2008
The Chinese Government's interesting and educational exhibit was located in the northern portion of the New Orleans exposition's Main Building. The central feature of the display was a large yellow-roofed pagoda, decorated with lanterns of glass and silk. Within the pagoda were numerous life-size mannequins, representing the various customs and industries of China. Among the figures were a Buddhist priest, a mandarin, a bride, a widow, children, a street-peddler, and an accountant. China, assuming that the exposition was to be purely a cotton show, sent extensive exhibits relating to the Chinese cotton industry. Various forms of cotton machinery were shown, with figures of people at work.....a cotton gin, flocking-bow, spinning machine, loom, and a machine for reeling thread. Cotton was also displayed in many forms and varieties, from raw boll to finished fabrics. A screen at an entrance to the pagoda read: "As from far beyond the clouds in spring, the moon, with liquid refulgence, shines, so the luster of a proper observance of what is right is reflected upon our country and our literature, causing both to flourish".
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Covering over an acre of floor-space, the Mexican Government exhibit was the largest foreign display at the New Orleans exposition. Located at the south end of the massive Main Building, Mexico presented a comprehensive display of the manufactures and industries of the large republic. The first exhibit observed, upon entering the main entrance to the Main Building, was a massive block of Mexican silver, extracted from the famous Chihuahua mines. This roughly-formed block weighed 5,640 pounds, and was valued at $114,000. Turning left from the block of silver, and walking several hundred feet south, visitors soon arrived at the Republic of Mexico exhibit. A large and ornate formal entrance-gateway led into the spacious display area, where countless exhibits were arranged in a series of twelve large courts, formed by glass-fronted ebony-black display cases. Within each court a different series of exhibits were presented, thoroughly classified, without the commercialism present in many of the other foreign government exhibits at the exposition. Displays of Mexico's sugar, tobacco, and lumber industries were shown, as well as exhibits of spices, liquors, chocolates, perfumes, flax, fruits, and vegetables. Examples of highly-detailed leather, saddlery, and embroidery work were also displayed, along with delicate silver lacework. Numerous miniature wax-figures, representing the various costumes, trades, and traditions of the Mexican people, were exhibited; along with a large representation of native Indian pottery. The variety and educational value of the comprehensive Mexican exhibits received high praise, from both visitors and critics.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Covering an area of approximately seven acres, the foreign exhibits at the New Orleans exposition filled the central portion of the Main Building, on either side of Music Hall. Both government-sponsored and privately-sponsored displays came from the countries of: Great Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Spain, Russia, China, Japan, Siam, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, British Honduras, Venezuela, Brazil, Jamaica, and the Hawaiian Islands. The numerous exhibits varied from excellent to disappointing, and overall the foreign section was viewed by many critics as lack-luster. Delays at U.S. Customs caused the majority of the foreign displays to arrive several weeks after the opening of the exposition. The delays were mostly the fault of the exposition’s management, who had failed to have the exposition declared a bonded-warehouse, wherein no import duties would have to be declared or paid. When exhibits finally began to arrive, there was a scramble to get the hundreds of items unpacked. Crates and boxes filled the Main Building’s vast foreign section as workers struggled to put exhibits on display as quickly as possible. In a few weeks time, the various foreign exhibits began to attain a state of sense and order. Mexico had a large and comprehensive display, covering over an acre of floor-space; China exhibited cotton in various forms, with numerous life-sized mannequins; Jamaica showed varieties of spices and rums; Brazil exhibited coffee; Guatemala and the Hawaiian Islands displayed their many forms of native handiwork; and manufacturers from the European countries exhibited their numerous wares.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Typical of expositions of the period, exhibitors in the United States section designed many unique and original displays to catch the eye of the passing crowds. Every exhibitor sought to market their products to a new audience, and the New Orleans exposition offered an excellent opportunity to do this. Local, state, and national merchants, importers, and manufacturers all had displays in the vast United States section. Initially so many applications for space were received that numerous exhibitors had to be rejected, and only exhibits of higher caliber accepted. Approximately eight acres of displays covered the floor space allotted to the United States, and for judging purposes, exhibits were assigned to different classes according to the types of products being displayed. Upon entering the main entrance to the Main Building, visitors could turn either left or right to view the hundreds of exhibits, spread among the many avenues and aisles. At the south end of the United States section was located the He-No Tea Hong, a Chinese-style pavilion erected by Martin Gillet & Co. The pavilion was constructed of bamboo, and featured a yellow roof with an enormous red papier-mache dragon on top. Many varieties of tea were on exhibit within the tastefully designed structure. A few aisles away from the He-No pavilion was located the Magnolia Ham exhibit, featuring two life-size artificial pigs. Mr. and Mrs. Pig were displayed dressed in their Sunday best and ready to sit down to a meal of ham, served with all the trimmings. In the northern portion of the United States section was located the Charter Oak Stoves exhibit, featuring numerous styles of cooking and heating apparatus. A short distance from the Charter Oak exhibit was located the display of John Gauche's Sons, whose company specialized in lamps and pottery of many types and styles. Farther to the north was located a large exhibit of salt, featuring a statue of the biblical Lot's Wife sculpted completely from pure rock salt, standing atop a lofty pedestal. One of the largest displays in the United States section was that of J. & P. Coats Company, whose factory produced spool-cotton thread in numerous colors. The main attraction of the spacious exhibit was a full-scale representation of the old stone mill at Newport, Rhode Island, composed of 80,264 multi-colored spools of thread. Among the hundreds of other United States displays were Keystone watch cases, Willimantic sewing machines, Ricksecker's perfumes, S. Hernsheim & Bros. cigars, and Mellin's Food products.
Monday, November 24, 2008
At the New Orleans exposition, space allotted to exhibitors from the United States occupied the entire eastern portion of the 33-acre Main Building, with sections under the north and south galleries, covering a total of approximately eight acres. The building was laid-out with a unique numbering and lettering system, which allowed for easy location of any particular exhibit. Support posts running from south to north were numbered, 1 through 63; while posts running from west to east were lettered, A through V. In order to avoid accusations of partiality in the allotment of space, Chief of Installation, Samuel Mullen, made all the aisles in the building a uniform width of fourteen feet. Space was allotted in units of four-feet square, and every exhibitor was able to request display space based on multiples of those units. Another idea put forth by Mr. Mullen was not to place exhibits of similar types side-by-side, but to separate them within the areas assigned to each class. Therefore, exhibits of carpeting, draperies, and linens were intermixed with those of bronzeware, vases, and lamps. This idea allowed the area to attain a varied visual effect, especially when viewed from the upstairs galleries surrounding the building. Within the vast space occupied by the United States exhibitors were displays of almost every type and description. The aisles were filled with hundreds of exhibits.....consisting of stoves, furniture, mattresses, pottery, china, carpets, fabrics, thread, baskets, jewelery, watches, clocks, pianos, organs, tobacco, perfumes, food products.....in addition to countless other items of American manufacture and sale. A separate building for the exhibit of furniture was also erected to the north of the Main Building. The 180-foot square cross-shaped structure was named the Grand Rapids Furniture Building, and contained furnishings produced by manufacturers from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Machinery Hall occupied the entire western portion of the massive Main Building at the New Orleans exposition. Covering an area of approximately ten acres, Machinery Hall contained innumerable displays of various types of light and heavy machinery, in addition to items such as wheels, pulleys, cogs, drill bits, knives, hammers, bolts, screws, nails, rope, wire, pipes, and cables. Vast arrays of railroad locomotives, and other steam-powered apparatus, were also on exhibit. The Edison Electric Company constructed the world's largest isolated incandescent lighting plant, dubbed "Fort Edison", which supplied the power necessary to operate the thousands of Edison electric lightbulbs used within structures throughout the exposition grounds. At the center of Machinery Hall, situated on a large brick platform, thirty-two different types of steam engines were in constant operation. Operated by steam produced in the adjacent Boiler House, these mammoth engines provided power to all the machinery located throughout the hall. At the north end of Machinery Hall was located a large water-tank, for the demonstration of various types of pumping equipment. In the immediate vicinity of the water tank were located the cold-storage warehouses, where numerous fruits, vegetables, flowers, and dairy products were kept fresh and ready for display. The cold-storage plant was capable of producing five tons of ice per day, made available for the numerous restaurants and lunch-stands on the grounds. Immense as Machinery Hall was, it was soon found to be incapable of housing all the intended exhibits, so two separate annexes were constructed. The 570-foot long Factories and Mills Building, located immediately south of the Main Building, contained displays of heavy machinery used in the iron manufacturing and milling industries. Additionally, west of the Factories and Mills Building, was located the long and narrow Saw Mill & Woodworking Machinery Building, containing various forms of machinery used in the lumber finishing industries.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Designed as a great auditorium, Music Hall was located at the center of the 1885 exposition's Main Building. Entered through a massive wooden archway, hung with a large French flag, with red, white, and blue streamers, the arch-roofed hall covered an area 164-feet wide by 350-feet deep, and contained seating for 11,000 spectators. The large performance stage, located at the hall's west end, could accommodate 600 musicians and was also the location of the immense Pilcher pipe-organ, installed by the Pilcher Organ Co. A second-floor gallery, decorated with flags and bunting, surrounded the hall on three sides, providing additional standing-room for spectators. In total, Music Hall could accommodate 13,000 people for various events. A large central skylight, running the length of the hall, provided natural light during the day. By night, the auditorium was illuminated by a line of large chandeliers, containing clusters of Edison incandescent electric lights. Additionally, two long rows of crescent-shaped electric lighting fixtures were located on either side of the central row of chandeliers. Numerous musical performances were staged in Music Hall during the course of the exposition, as well as conferences, lectures, special events, and celebrations on the many State and National days.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Located approximately at the center of the site, the Main Building was the largest exhibition structure erected for the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition. Designed by Mississippi architect Gustav M. Torgerson, the structure contained thirty-three acres of unobstructed exhibit space, and measured 1,378 feet wide by 905 feet deep. Constructed entirely of wood, the building was designed in an eclectic Italian renaissance style with pre-fabricated detailing on the exterior walls. Eleven entrances gave access to the interior.....five of these entrances being situated along the east side, and three each on the north and south sides. The building's prominent main entrance was located beneath a 115-foot high mansard-roofed tower, and flanked by two smaller towers of similar design. Two electric elevators provided access to the tower's roof, where a panoramic view of the exposition grounds could be obtained. Four large secondary entrances were similar in design to the main entrance, but lacked the mansard roofs. Additionally, six smaller portals were located adjacent to the other five prominent entrances. Numerous windows were placed along the building's four sides, and the majority of the expansive roof was composed of large glass skylights, providing natural lighting to the vast open interior. Contained within the building was commodious display space for hundreds of exhibits. Along the building's entire eastern side, and sections of the north and south sides, were located exhibits from United States manufacturers, occupying an area of approximately eight acres. In the western portion of the building was located Machinery Hall, covering approximately ten acres. At the center of the Main Building was located the 11,000 seat Music Hall, surrounded by spacious galleries. On either side of Music Hall, stretching north & south, were the exhibits from the various foreign nations which participated in the exposition. Lastly, a large section at the north end of the building contained displays of agricultural implements. Offices for the exposition's directors, and other management, were located within the several pavilions formed by the building's entrances. Spacious second-floor galleries completely surrounded the interior of the structure, and were accessible by numerous stairways and several electric elevators. These galleries offered visitors a bird's-eye view over the acres of exhibits contained within the building. At night the interior was completely illuminated by 800 electric arc-lights, and Edison incandescent electric lights in the Music Hall and offices of the exposition's management.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The site chosen for the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition was 249 undeveloped acres in the western portion of New Orleans, approximately four miles from the business district. In the years prior to the Civil War, the property had been the location of two plantations, which eventually merged into one. The city acquired the property in 1874, as the site for a future public park. The acreage was named Upper City Park, and then re-named Audubon Park after the close of the exposition. Accessible by water, and several streetcar lines, the exposition grounds were bounded on the south by the Mississippi River, and on the north by St. Charles Avenue. East of the grounds was located 100-foot wide Exposition Boulevard, and on the west was Park Avenue. Within this vast area wild grasses grew, interspersed with several groves and avenues of Live Oaks. Two avenues of these oaks had been located on one of the former plantations, owned by Pierre Foucher. Prior to 1825, a smaller portion of Foucher's property had formed the second plantation, owned by Etienne Bore. The exposition's planners decided to place an immense wooden building at the center of the site, to house all of the major exhibits. The structure, named the Main Building, contained the exposition's Machinery Hall, exhibits from foreign nations, displays from numerous United States manufacturers, agricultural implements, and the immense Music Hall. Soon found to be inadequate to house all the intended displays, a second large wooden structure was constructed at the site's north-east corner, and officially named the United States and States Exhibits Building. Unofficially, it was known as the Government & States Building, since it contained exhibits from the United States government, as well as displays from the various States and Territories of the U.S. Additionally, the building also housed the Educational, Women's, and Colored People's exhibits. Across from the Main Building's south-east entrance was located the fireproof Art Hall, constructed of iron and situated on a lengthy avenue of Live Oaks. At the south end of the avenue of oaks was located Horticultural Hall, built entirely of wood & glass. Besides these four major structures, several secondary buildings were also constructed. At the site's extreme south-east corner was located the Mexican National Headquarters, housing the Mexican Band and a detachment of the Mexican military, as well as offices for Mexican officials. An octagon-shaped iron structure was also constructed by the Mexican government, near the south-east corner of the Main Building, to contain a large mineral exhibit. West of this structure was located the iron Factories and Mills Building, constructed as an annex to Machinery Hall. Immediately adjacent to this building was constructed the long and narrow Saw Mill & Woodworking Machinery Building. Located behind the Main Building was the Boiler House, containing fifteen large boilers which produced steam to power the exposition's engines, located in Machinery Hall. North of the Main Building was located the Wagon Building, and the large cross-shaped Grand Rapids Furniture Building. At the north-west portion of the grounds were located six large buildings to display livestock, with an adjacent half-mile long race course. Additionally, interspersed throughout the grounds, were restaurants, lemonade stands, coffee houses, small buildings for individual exhibits, and several model greenhouses. Directly in front of the Main Building, an avenue led to the exposition's main entrance, located on Exposition Boulevard. Four additional entrances also gave access to the grounds.....one at St. Charles Avenue; one east of the Government & States Building; another east of Horticultural Hall; and the last at a large wharf constructed along the Mississippi River. The site's major walkways were constructed of asphalt, with shallow drainage-ditches at each side, filled with crushed-shell. Due to New Orleans' high water-table, drainage of the exposition grounds was a major concern, and drainage ditches a necessity. A drainage canal was also constructed, and water pumped from the site via a powerful drainage-pump near St. Charles Avenue. Although incomplete for several weeks after the opening of the exposition, the majority of the grounds were eventually landscaped with lawns, shrubs, small trees, and beds of flowers. A Mexican Garden, containing many large specimens of cactus and other native plants, was situated near the Mexican National Headquarters. The area around Horticultural Hall was landscaped with numerous varieties of plants from around the world. Several lakes also dotted the site. The largest lake, located south of the Government & States Building, was Lake Rubio, named after the wife of President Porfirio Diaz of Mexico. On a large island, at the center of the lake, stood a 100-foot high stand-pipe, which also served as a fountain. Water was pumped to the top, which then gravity-flowed from the stand-pipe to the various decorative fountains located on the site, as well as to restaurants and lavatories. A second large lake, named Lake Brilliant, was located south of the Main Building, and west of Horticultural Hall. Additionally, two smaller un-named lakes were located on the site.....one west of the Mexican National Headquarters, and another north-east of Horticultural Hall. The New Orleans exposition was also the first major World's Fair to be illuminated entirely by electricity, and several 115-foot high, iron-framed, electric arc-light towers were built to provide night lighting of the grounds. The world's most powerful arc-light, of 100,000 candle-power, was situated atop the stand-pipe, located on the island in Lake Rubio.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Despite getting off to a less than successful start, the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition celebrated Christmas Day, 1884, with a great gathering inside Music Hall. The day's festivities, organized by Mrs. Sue Burke, wife of the Director-General, began with the Mexican band playing Christmas songs, as a large crowd assembled in the vast auditorium. On the hall's stage stood an immense hemlock tree, forty-five feet in height, sent from Connecticut. The tree was decorated with scores of beautiful gifts and lit with multi-colored electric lightbulbs, provided by the Edison Electric Co. The Christmas Day celebration was dedicated to the children of New Orleans, of which hundreds filled the audience. Santa Claus was also in attendance, portrayed by the Honorable T.R. Pickering, Commissioner of the State of Connecticut. He was dressed in a Siberian seal and reindeer skin garment, with Siberian sable boa, hood, gauntlets, and boots to match. This outfit was a relic of the Greely relief expedition, and had originally been purchased in Russia. Santa Claus presented the many gifts, which filled the tree, to the children in attendance. A long line was assembled, and hundreds of dolls, watches, clocks, jumping-jacks, fiddles, drums, horns, baskets, stuffed-toys, candies, and many other trinkets & gifts were handed-out to the happy and excited young people. As the Christmas ceremonies came to a close, many visitors strolled outside to view the multitude of fruits and vegetables on display in Horticultural Hall, which glowed like a massive glow-worm from the many electric lights inside.