Government and States Building and Exhibits at the 1884 Cotton Centennial Exposition

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, states by region encircled these, and on the balcony were special department: the Education Department, the Woman's Department, and the first-ever Colored Department. In an increasingly industrial world, these departments sought to prove the worthiness of their participants.

An onion-domed working post office operated every day as part of federal exhibits. States created fanciful displays of their natural and manufactured resources.

Life-saving demonstrations took place daily on this lake next to the Government and States Building. Other daily attractions were designed to bring visitors to the grounds: fireworks, balloon ascensions, parades, musical concerts, and special days to honor various states, groups, and ethnicities.

In addition to the spectacle of electric lights and elevators, telephones were new as were a host of products and machinery that awed the crowds.