Enter the World of the World's Fair

Stop 1 of 10 in the Audubon Park: 1884 Cotton Centennial Exposition Site tour

From December 16, 1884 until June 1, 1885, the spectacular World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition covered these grounds with gigantic wooden structures and broad, lighted paths. Too little is known of the event, even by New Orleanians, for later, grander expositions dwarfed its accomplishments. Yet, it is worth another visit, so come and re-imagine it today fanned by ghostly images from the past.

Disembark at the entrance to Audubon Park and walk through the classic Maurice Stern gates. Enter the paradise that the park-design firm of Frederick Law Olmsted created after the 1884 World's Fair. The exposition had only partially developed the grounds. The Olmsteds drew the master plan for the oasis around you. Olmsted's son Charles designed this pair of entrances that Maurice Stern's wife financed in the 1920s to honor the philanthropist.

This approximately 150-acre section of Audubon Park (from St. Charles Avenue to Magazine Street) reflects the Olmsted philosophy for public parks: quiet natural beauty designed to offer city dwellers an escape from the artificiality of city life. Now, an 18-hole public golf course occupies most of this section of the park, while the path on the periphery teems with bicyclers, joggers, and children. Another 190-acres section (from Magazine Street to the Mississippi River) forms the more commercial area of the park: Audubon Zoo, tennis courts, stables, baseball and soccer fields, and other amenities, including restaurants.

Begin your journey at the edge of the lagoon before you that wanders the width and one length of the park.

Images

Grandeur of the Main Building

Grandeur of the Main Building

Flags flying, the 33-acre building is poised to welcome visitors eager to experience the world's offerings in products and natural resources that mirrored the industrial and social world of 1884. Image courtesy of Ken Speth. Private collection. View File Details Page

Main Building of the Cotton Centennial Exposition

Main Building of the Cotton Centennial Exposition

Image courtesy of Ken Speth. Private collection. View File Details Page

Maurice Stern Gates

Maurice Stern Gates

St. Charles Avenue entrance to Audubon Park. Image courtesy of Miki Pfeffer. View File Details Page

Path to the lagoon.

Path to the lagoon.

Image courtesy of Miki Pfeffer. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Miki Pfeffer, “Enter the World of the World's Fair,” New Orleans Historical, accessed July 26, 2017, http://neworleanshistorical.org/items/show/191.
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