Audubon Park: Site of the 1884 Cotton Centennial Exposition

Tour curated by: Miki Pfeffer and the University of New Orleans History Department

Take an imaginative journey through a nineteenth-century World’s Fair. Only the beauty of the grounds exists today, for expositions were fleeting spectacles. Yet, photographic "ghost" images recall a time when the world’s products, accomplishments, and dreams were spread before eager travelers to New Orleans.

Locations for 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…

In the eighteenth century, working sugar plantations existed on this land. They faced the Mississippi River, which is straight ahead about a half mile. Pierre Foucher planted long alleys of live oak trees to frame his house. His neighbor Etienne de…

Take a few moments here to enjoy the activity in the park and the beauty of the entrance. As you face the entrance again, Tulane and Loyola universities are across the street and were also originally part of the Foucher-Bore plantations. A plaque to…

Cross over to the path along the side of the park that is Exposition Boulevard. Walk along and admire the houses on your way to Prytania Street, the main entrance to the fair in 1884. In post-reconstruction New Orleans, the celebrated event,…

Imagine yourself in a mule-drawn streetcar or private carriage being transported to Exposition grounds. Hear the hooves on a shell road constructed for the occasion. You arrive at this Main Entrance. Its architecture reflects that of the gigantic…

To the right of where you sit was the Government and States Building, still partially under construction when the exposition opened. By January and February, 1885, however, most exhibits were in place. Government departments clustered in the center,…

Continue on the path in the direction you have been traveling, along the Olmsted lagoon. Soon you arrive at one end of the Foucher alley of oaks, planted in the eighteenth century. Scores of exposition visitors remarked on their beauty and noted the…

Stroll past the Newman bandstand to one last imaginative view of the vastness of the Main Building with the Mexican Mining Pavilion beside it. The golf course now occupies most of the grounds on which the Main Building sat. These ghostly images from…

New Orleans Daily Picayune. 1 Oct. 1883 - 15 June 1885; 24 April 1887; Nov. 1895; 16 Feb. 1896; 8 June 1901; 23 Aug. 1905; 30 Mar. 1908.   New Orleans Mascot. January, 1882-December, 1886.   New Orleans Times-Democrat. 1 Nov. 1884 -15 June…