Former Entrance to the 1884 Cotton Centennial Exhibition on Prytania

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, officially known as the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition, commemorated one hundred years of the export of cotton. Proponents of a "New South" movement strategically designed it to convince northern investors that the region had put aside sectional and racial animosities and was eager for reunion and industrialization. If successful, New Orleans might recapture some of its former glory and economic power. With a million-dollar loan from Congress and 247 acres of acquired land (then Upper City Park), developers built huge structures to house a spectacular array of foreign and domestic exhibits ranging from the humblest spool of thread to the grandest railroad locomotive.

Although the Cotton Centennial Exposition was neither a financial nor a political success, it did leave significant legacies in the city. These include the further development of what later became Audubon Park and the residential area surrounding it, especially the handsome residential boulevard beside it. For the exposition purposes, shells paved this road to the main entrance.

When you arrive at Prytania Street and Exposition Boulevard, note that there is still a hint of a formal entrance as the path opens outward from Prytania. Re-cross the paths and relax on a bench or in the gazebo near the lagoon's edge as you imagine the 1884 Cotton Centennial Expo, beginning with the ground plan for the entire undertaking.