After the closing of the North, Central and South American Exposition, Upper City Park was rapidly cleared of the exposition structures. A public auction, on May 17th, 1886, disposed of the numerous buildings; and within a short period of time the only structure remaining was Horticultural Hall, which was to be a permanent feature of the park. On July 19th, Upper City Park was officially renamed Audubon Park, in honor of the famed artist & naturalist John James Audubon. Basic landscaping of the park soon began, under the direction of the newly formed park commission. Trees and shrubs were planted in various areas, and walks and roadways laid-out. By the early 1890's, Horticultural Hall was displaying premature signs of deterioration; which ultimately required replacement of the foundations, and construction of a new central tower. In 1897, landscape architect John C. Olmsted was hired to design a master-plan for the park. Over the next two decades, many of the ideas proposed in Mr. Olmsted's plan were carried out, including extensive landscaping and construction of a lake. In 1909, Horticultural Hall suffered major damage during a violent storm, which collapsed the entire southern-half of the structure. Six years later, in September of 1915, a severe hurricane struck New Orleans. The storm's excessive winds completely destroyed Horticultural Hall and caused extensive damage to much of the city. During the 1920's many recreational facilities were added to the park, in addition to several animal exhibits, an aquarium, and a sea-lion pool; all of which eventually became part of the Audubon Zoo. During the past several decades, numerous changes and improvements have been made to Audubon Park. Today the park contains a golf course, bicycle and jogging paths, tennis courts, ball-fields, picnic areas, and the Audubon Zoo. The zoo occupies acreage in the portion of the park where Horticultural Hall, Lake Brilliant, and the Mexican National Headquarters were once located; and several of the zoo's large oaks are remnants of the pre-Civil War Foucher Plantation. The sea-lion pool, a decorative fountain, and the reptile exhibits now occupy the former site of Horticultural Hall. On the north side of the zoo, Live Oak Avenue remains and stretches toward the Newman Bandstand. The golf course covers much of the area where the Main Building, Government & States Building, and Lake Rubio were formerly located. A large iron-ore boulder, situated on the golf course, was once part of Alabama's mineral display, and left behind after the second exposition closed. Audubon Park itself remains as a permanent legacy of both the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition, and the North, Central and South American Exposition.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
As projected, the New Orleans exposition re-opened in the autumn of 1885, under new management and re-named the North, Central and South American Exposition. After purchasing the existing buildings for $125,000 in July, the new corporation opened the revised exposition on November 10th, with Samuel H. Buck occupying the position of Director-General. In contrast to its predecessor, the new exposition permitted a much broader variety of displays, and relaxed the rather strict rules of exhibit classification. Many new exhibits, and features of pure entertainment value, were introduced. A baseball-park was constructed at the center of the existing race-course, and several evening pyrotechnic shows were added; including a dramatic production of "The Last Days of Pompeii", featuring numerous types of fireworks. In the Main Building, displays from eighteen foreign nations were complemented by collective exhibits from numerous North American cities; and new exhibits were added to the Machinery and United States sections. The Government & States Building was renamed the States Exhibits Building, and contained displays from thirty-eight states & territories; with the majority of the building's interior re-arranged after removal of the United States Government exhibit. The Educational, Woman's, and Colored People's departments were also expanded and improved. In Art Hall, many new works of art were displayed; and a comprehensive Creole exhibit consisted of historical relics, antiquities, and furnishings collected from the homes of old French families throughout New Orleans. Horticultural Hall was converted into a winter-garden, and the spacious interior landscaped with an abundance of flowers and tropical foliage. Several new restaurants and refreshment stands were added to the grounds; and an asphalt carriage-drive allowed visitors to enter at St. Charles Avenue, drive through the grounds, and disembark at the Main Building's north entrance. Another convenience for visitors was the electric railway which operated between the St. Charles Avenue entrance and Art Hall; while direct transportation to the exposition grounds was greatly improved by the opening of a steam railway line, constructed by the newly formed American Exposition Railway Company. Unfortunately, despite the exposition's re-organization and improvement, attendance soon proved to be drastically lower than expected and the event quickly began to lose money. After struggling for 4-1/2 months, the North, Central and South American Exposition closed, deeply in debt, on April 1st, 1886.
Monday, December 29, 2008
On May 31st, 1885 the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition came to a close, $470,000 in debt. The 5-1/2 month-long exposition had been plagued with financial difficulties since its December 16th opening, and also greatly suffered from under-attendance. Of the four-million visitors originally projected by exposition management, only 1,158,840 actually attended. On March 3rd, Congress had appropriated an additional $335,000 for the struggling exposition, with the understanding that the funds were to be used to pay outstanding debts to persons, firms, and corporations not living and doing business in Louisiana. An additional amount of $15,000 was also appropriated for the Woman's Department. Congress made it clear that the funds were "final aid", and that the money was a gift, rather than a loan. On May 20th, amidst the continuing controversy over exposition mismanagement, Major Edward A. Burke resigned the office of Director-General, and was replaced by Samuel H. Buck for the remaining eleven days of the exposition. In addition to financial and attendance problems, weather conditions during the exposition period had also been unpredictable. In early May a severe rainstorm struck New Orleans, and the storm's intense winds toppled the three sheet-iron smokestacks on the exposition Boiler House. One of the falling smokestacks collapsed a portion of the roof, which caused a boiler to explode and extinguish all steam and electrical power on the exposition grounds. Fortunately, only one boiler mechanic suffered minor injuries, and repairs to the Boiler House were completed within several days. Since May 31st was to occur on a Sunday, exposition management decided that the official closing ceremonies should be held on Monday, June 1st. The brief ceremonies were held outdoors, along Live Oak Avenue, and several speeches were addressed to the large crowd that had gathered for the closing day. A probable re-opening of the exposition in the autumn, under new management, was alluded to and greeted with loud cheers. The vast crowd then dispersed, amidst the bustle of workers dismantling and packing-up exhibits throughout the exposition grounds.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
In 1885 New Orleans was the largest city in the south, having a population of approximately 225,000 residents. In preparation for the exposition, and the large number of visitors expected, the city established an accommodations bureau which would locate and provide lodgings for up to 50,000 persons. Rates for hotels and boarding-houses were to be from $1.00 to $3.00 per day, depending on the type of accommodations required. Unfortunately, the prices advertised did not hold true, with some hotels demanding rates upwards of $12.00 per day. This greediness caused outrage among persons who planned to visit the exposition, and caused many to cancel their travel plans. In addition, many railroads also demanded exorbitant rates for travel to New Orleans during the exposition period. Eventually special "excursion rates" were made available to travelers, but even those rates were still much higher than normal, and directly affected exposition attendance. Transportation within the city was slightly better, with New Orleans containing 650-miles of streets, of which 150-miles were served by economical streetcar lines. Many of the roadways in New Orleans were still unpaved in 1885, which turned them into mud-filled bogs during heavy rains. Several of the major thoroughfares were paved with cobblestones, and some with a new paving material known as asphalt. The city's commerce centered around the levees, where the Mississippi River allowed for economical transportation of numerous goods, of which cotton, sugar, and rice were the major exports. Levee workers, known as stevedores, quickly loaded and unloaded the large number of commercial steamboats and ships that docked at New Orleans. Industry abounded in the city, and the wharves were usually piled high with cotton bales, barrels of sugar, and many other goods bound for domestic and foreign ports. Canal Street formed the main business district of New Orleans, and separated the older and newer sections of the city. In the older part of town was located the Vieux Carré, or French Quarter, where the majority of the city's Italian immigrants resided. Many of these immigrants worked in the old French Market, and sold numerous varieties of fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, spices, and other staples from around the world. Facing tropical-landscaped Jackson Square was located the venerable old St. Louis Cathedral, flanked by the Presbytere and the famous Cabildo, where the Louisiana Purchase was signed in 1803. The cobble-stoned and unpaved streets in the area passed numerous old and historic structures, of which the majority were in various states of dilapidation. Nearby were located several of the city's oldest cemeteries with their unusual above-ground burial vaults, necessitated by the high water-table of New Orleans. On the upriver side of Canal Street, beyond the business district, was located the area known as Uptown. Numerous pre-Civil War townhouses, and newer homes of the city's elite, lined many of the streets leading toward the exposition grounds. Fresh water was a precious commodity, even in the wealthier areas, and large cisterns caught rain-water channeled from the roofs of homes. The majority of streets in New Orleans contained open-drains, located at the curbs, where water and various forms of sewage flowed toward Lake Pontchartrain, located at the opposite side of the city. The lack of adequate drainage caused numerous health issues, especially during the annual warm and humid periods, and yellow fever epidemics remained a constant threat to the inhabitants of New Orleans.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
The offices of the Centennial Photographic Company were located on the second-floor gallery of the Main Building, at the massive structure’s south-east corner. The company was founded in 1875 by Edward L. Wilson, Ph.D., a local Philadelphia photographer & lecturer, and editor of the United States’ leading photography magazine “The Philadelphia Photographer”. Immediately after establishing the Centennial Photographic Company, Wilson obtained the exclusive rights to photograph the grounds, buildings, and exhibits of the 1876 U.S. Centennial Exhibition, to be held in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. Wilson’s foresight in realizing the need for an official photographic concession at the exposition allowed the company to become quite successful and profitable. In addition to operating a complete photographic studio on the grounds, Wilson sent photographers out to search the exposition for interesting and marketable scenes to photograph. Photographic views were produced in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional card-mounted formats, in addition to glass slides made for use in magic-lantern projectors. The three-dimensional images were marketed as stereoviews, with over 1,300 different images of the exposition being produced. After a successful and profitable period at the Centennial, Wilson organized an 1881-82 photographic expedition to the middle-east. A large series of stereoviews were produced and marketed as “Scenes In The Orient”, with over 650 subjects being photographed. In early 1884 Wilson became aware of the upcoming World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition to be held in New Orleans. He was able to establish the exclusive rights to photograph the exposition and ultimately produced over 1,700 images, including scenes of New Orleans and vicinity, in mono, stereo, and glass-slide formats. All official photographs of the exposition were produced by Wilson and his team of photographers, including images used for advertising purposes, and photographs of employees and visitors for season-passes. The Centennial Photographic Company’s New Orleans exposition offices consisted of a photography studio; a lab for developing, printing, and mounting; and a sales counter. Wilson’s overall success at the 1884-85 event can only be estimated, based on the exposition’s lack of attendance and ultimate financial failure. The financial losses that Wilson probably suffered at New Orleans most likely resulted in his decision, in the early 1890’s, to sell the entire Centennial Photographic Company, including all photographic images, to Roberts & Fellows, of Philadelphia.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Situated near the south-east corner of the Main Building, the Mexican Pavilion was an octagon-shaped iron structure, seventy-eight feet across, topped by an eagle-crowned gilded dome. The entrance to the multi-colored Moorish-style building consisted of an ornate portico, with a prominent sign overhead containing the Mexican coat-of-arms and "Mexican Mining Pavilion", in gilded letters. Twenty-one large arched windows, of delicately patterned colored-glass, were located in the building's other seven walls. Within the pavilion were large glass display-cases, arranged in two circles, in which were placed a multitude of rare minerals and gems from each of Mexico's mineral States. Fine specimens of gold, silver, copper, iron, zinc, and lead were displayed; in addition to fine examples of jewelry, set with numerous gems and other precious stones. Beneath the dome, at the center of the pavilion, was constructed a small pyramid of precious metals; while collections of various tropical shrubs were placed beneath the colored-glass windows surrounding the building.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Located in the in the immediate vicinity of Horticultural Hall, the horticultural grounds covered several landscaped acres. A vast circular park, surrounding Horticultural Hall, occupied the majority of the acreage, and was landscaped with lawns, trees, and shrubs. Numerous pathways, paved with crushed-shell, meandered through the park and allowed visitors to inspect many varieties of plants from around the world. Just west of the circular park was located Lake Brilliant; while south and east of Horticultural Hall were spacious lawns dotted with numerous Live Oaks, remaining from the former Foucher Plantation. Several of these trees were over a century old and of immense proportions. Adjacent to these noble oaks, at the south-east corner of the grounds, was located a small lake and the Mexican National Headquarters. Immediately in front of this building was laid-out a spacious and picturesque garden; filled with immense specimens of cacti & aloe, century plants, and other varieties of Mexican flora. At the north-east portion of the horticultural grounds was located another small lake, spanned by a picturesque wooden bridge, with a pathway leading toward Art Hall. In addition to many varieties of landscaping, two Rendle Company model-greenhouses were constructed within the circular park surrounding Horticultural Hall. One greenhouse was located on the west side of the building, and another on the east side. A decorative cast-iron fountain was also located east of Horticultural Hall. During a drastic drop in temperature, in mid-February of 1885, water in the fountain completely froze and heavy frost coated the glass roofs of Horticultural Hall. This unusual event caused numerous editorial quips, in northern newspapers, about New Orleans being located in "The Sunny South".
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Soon recognized by visitors as being a popular attraction at the New Orleans exposition, Horticultural Hall was filled with hundreds of horticultural and agricultural displays. Extensive exhibits of fruit from nearly every state and territory of the United States, and from many foreign countries, filled the main aisle of the building for a total length of 500 feet. Apples, pears, peaches, apricots, plums, persimmons, dates, oranges, lemons, limes, pineapples, strawberries, and many other types of fruits were displayed. Among the numerous state displays, Arkansas displayed apples; California showed oranges; and Florida exhibited many varieties of tropical fruits. Several foreign nations, including England, France, Russia, and British Honduras, sent exhibits of fruit and agricultural products. Vast numbers of living trees and plants were also displayed by various countries, in conservatories located around the perimeter of the building's interior. In addition to numerous palms, ferns, flowers, and shrubs; banana, orange, lemon, coconut, coffee, ginger, cinnamon, clove, vanilla, and other varieties of fruit producing trees and plants were shown. One of the major attractions in Horticultural Hall was Mexico's extensive exhibit of cactus, of which hundreds of varieties were shown. Critics were so impressed by the cacti on display that many deemed this exhibit alone well worth a visit to the exposition. In the hot-house section of the building were displayed over 100 varieties of air-plants from South America, in addition to many other tropical and aquatic plants; including Venezuela's introduction of the water hyacinth to the United States. Unfortunately, the visually attractive water hyacinth soon became the blight of the Gulf States, as the voracious plant rapidly multiplied over the years and clogged thousands of navigable waterways.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Designed to remain as a permanent addition to Upper City Park, Horticultural Hall was located at the south end of Live Oak Avenue, in the south-eastern portion of the exposition grounds. Constructed entirely of glass and wood, the cross-shaped building measured 600 feet long by 194 feet across, and was promoted as being the world's largest conservatory. The Rendle Company, of New York City, was contracted to provide the glazing for the massive structure, using their patented system of "glazing without putty". Horticultural Hall's major exterior feature was a ninety-foot high mansard-roofed tower, sheathed in glass, located at the center of the building. The spacious interior contained a fifty-foot wide central hall where four rows of long tables, extending through the building's entire length, held hundreds of fruit and other agricultural displays. Horticultural exhibits, consisting of numerous varieties of flowers, ferns, shrubs, trees, and cactus, were located in twenty-five foot wide glass-roofed conservatories, which surrounded the perimeter of the building. Located at the south-east corner was a 250-foot long glass-enclosed hot-house, containing a multitude of tropical plants. At the center of Horticultural Hall, beneath the glass tower, was located a large circular fountain surrounded by lofty Royal palms and a variety of potted-plants. By night the interior of the building was brilliantly illuminated with over fifty electric arc-lights.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Located on the east side of Live Oak Avenue, south-east of the Main Building, Art Hall was a fire-proof structure constructed entirely of iron, and measured 200 feet wide by 100 feet deep. Originally planned to be slightly larger, with decorative panels on the exterior walls and an octagon-shaped cupola on the roof, time and budget constraints ultimately forced the construction of a smaller and simpler structure. Numerous delays in construction, and arrival of exhibits, prevented Art Hall from opening until February 15th, 1885. Unfortunately, the building’s exterior lacked visual appeal; with a plain column-supported portico at the entrance, and walls of unadorned corrugated sheet-iron. A critic described the building as conveying an impression of substantial strength, rather than of architectural grace. Despite Art Hall's exterior drabness, the spacious interior contained vast amounts of wall area for the display of paintings and other artwork, illuminated by an enormous glass skylight. The abundant natural lighting was supplemented, when necessary, by more than 1,200 Edison incandescent electric lights. The hall's 20,000 square-foot floor-space was partitioned into four areas.....Statuary Hall, Belgian Gallery, Mexican Gallery, and Main Gallery. Located immediately inside the entrance to the building, Statuary Hall contained numerous American and foreign works of art, of bronze and marble. To the left and right of Statuary Hall were located galleries containing art exclusively from the nations of Belgium and Mexico. The Belgian Gallery displayed 130 modern paintings, representing artists from the Brussels Schools and the Belgian Society of Artists. The Mexican Gallery featured 69 historical paintings, covering three centuries of Mexican art, divided into twenty-five year periods. Located in the rear portion of the building was the two-hundred foot-long Main Gallery, in which were displayed 380 contributions from both American and European artists. Altogether, Art Hall contained nearly 900 works of art, consisting of oil-paintings, water-colors, pastels, and charcoals; with sculptures of marble, bronze, plaster, and terra-cotta. The paintings exhibited in Art Hall were selected by a critical art commission from over 2,000 pictures submitted. Critics were favorably impressed by the artworks displayed, and judged Art Hall to be one of the major successes of the exposition.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Located in the north-western corner of the Government & States Building, the 14,450 square-foot California state exhibit was the second largest state display at the New Orleans exposition. Prominent throughout the exhibit was the generous use of unpolished California redwood, which formed the railings, tables, pillars, and other items of utility. Pampas grass was also extensively used for decorative purposes. A comprehensive forestry exhibit displayed examples of both polished and unpolished woods; and a large botanical collection showed many types of flora common to the state. Gems and minerals from the "Golden State" were shown in many colors and varieties; including a gold & diamond casket valued at $200,000. Other prominent displays consisted of California wines and honey, of which numerous bottled examples were shown. One of the mechanical wonders of the California exhibit was a harvesting machine, which could cut, thresh, and sack grain at a rate of forty-acres per day. Another popular exhibit was a section of wood taken from a Giant Sequoia. Cut at a height of one-hundred feet, the section of trunk measured seventeen feet in diameter, with the stump being thirty-two feet across. The University of California exhibited 150 varieties of wheat, barley, oats, and rye; as well as numerous fruits and vegetables, including a 222-pound pumpkin. The Southern Pacific Railway Company displayed various models of locomotives manufactured in California, and also showed statistics of the state's vast network of railroads. Among the many other products exhibited by California were mineral waters, olives, citrus fruits, dates, almonds, and a prominent display of soap, made by the Standard Soap Company of San Francisco.