Earth Station 9 - Relevance is Everything

Home Support Earth Station 9 Search the Web | Email

The World's Fair and Exposition
Information and Reference Guide

1884 World's Industrial and
Cotton Centennial Exposition




  • 158 facts and trivia nuggets plus 10 links to external resources.

  • The World's Fair and Exposition Information and Reference Guide is now on CD.
    11,216 facts and 1,362 web links covering 24 World's Fairs and Expositions.
    Further information can be found here.

  • To Convert Dollar Amounts to the Year 2003: divide the amount by .055

  • Pictures? Maybe in the future.



The following categories are on CD
more Facts (10)  more Statistics (19)
Admissions, Fares, Fees (6) 10 Largest US Cities 1880 (10)
Building Sizes in Square Feet (12) Foreign Nation
Participation and Space (33)
Bonus: Timeline 1884 (22)





  • Title: The Worlds Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition.

  • Theme: Centennial Anniversary of Cotton Exportation.

  • Category: International Industrial Exhibition.

  • Location: Upper City Park (Audubon Park), New Orleans, Louisiana.

  • Exposition President: Edmund Richardson.

  • Director-General: Edward A. Burke (first director).

  • Dates: December 16, 1884 - May 31, 1885.

  • Area: 247 acres.

  • Total Opening Day Expenses: $1,800,000.

  • Amount Allocated for Each State: $5,000.

  • Estimated Overall Cost: $2,700,000.

  • Profit: None, the Exposition lost money.

  • Attendance: 6,000,000 (estimated).

  • Entrances: 10 ornamental (some sources state 8).

  • Hours: 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM.

  • Daily Admission: 50.

  • Participating States and Territories: 44 (all except Utah).

  • Official Foreign Participation: Belgium, Brazil, British Honduras, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Great Britain, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Russia, Siam, Venezuela.

  • Un-Official Foreign Participation: Austria-Hungary, Germany, Hawaii (Sandwich Islands), Italy, San Salvador, Spain.

  • Main Exhibition Buildings: 5 (covering 51 acres).

  • Five Main Buildings: Art Gallery, Factories and Mills, Government Building, Horticultural Hall, and the Main Building.

  • Exhibition Buildings (15): Art Gallery; Boiler House; Horticulture Hall; Machinery Extension; Main Building; Saw Mill Building; Six Livestock Barns; Iron, Tile and Brick Building; US Government and States Building; Wagon Building.

  • Other Buildings: Banker's Building, Furniture Pavilion, Terra-Cotta Exhibit Building, two Public Comfort Stations and 10 smaller structures..

  • Foreign Buildings (2): Mexican Commission and Headquarters Building, and Mineral Exhibit Building (Mexico).

  • Police Buildings: 3.

  • Principal Buildings Coverage: 62 acres (2,673,588 square feet).

  • Total Building Coverage: 81 acres (20 acres more than the US Centennial Exhibition).

  • Classifications (11): Agriculture; Alimentary Products; Education and Instruction; Furniture and Accessories; Horticulture; Industrial Arts; Ores and Minerals; Pisciculture; Raw and Manufactured Products; Textile Fabrics, Clothing and Accessories; Works of Art.

  • Exhibitors: 75,000 (estimated).

  • Exhibits: unknown at this time.

  • Busiest Day: April 29th (Mardi Gras Week) , 36,000 visitors.

  • Average Daily Attendance: 7,000 - 8,000.

  • Lighting: 350 arc lamps, 5000 incandescent lamps.

  • Water Filtration Plant: 80,000 gallons per minute.

  • Power: 47 engines provided a total output of 5,937 horsepower including 2,000 horsepower for lighting.

  • Official Photographer: Edwin L. Wilson (over 200 images).

  • Average Weather: 65 degrees and damp.

  • Official Guidebooks: 48 pages.

  • Conversion: every  $1 (1884)  = $18.18 (2003).

  • Transportation: Railway, steamer, carriage.

  • Population New Orleans (1884): 225,000.

  • Cotton Crop in New Orleans (1883-84): 1,529,188 bales.

  • Cotton Mills (1884): 270.

  • Sugar Crop in New Orleans (1883): 221,515 hogsheads.

  • The total building acreage covered 20 acres more than the US Centennial Exhibition and at 1/4 the cost. Making it the Largest US Exposition to date.

  • The North Central & South American Exposition (November 10, 1885 - March 31, 1886) was hosted in Audubon Park with the same buildings.


Facts and Trivia


  • Exposition originally proposed in 1882 by the Cotton Planters Association

  • Approved by Congress on February 10, 1883

  • Signed by President Chester Arthur on September 10, 1883.

  • By January, the Exposition had a deficit of over $300,000 and the Federal Government provided an additional $400,000 of funding.

  • President Chester Arthur presses a telegraph key in Washington DC to open the fair.

  • Due to a communications breakdown, the power was actually turned on 3 minutes prior.

  • General Tour: 30 minutes.

  • Edward A. Burke, the Fair's Director, escaped to Brazil with over $1,5000,000 of treasury money.

  • Only one subscription pledge came from a northern state ($1,000 from Chicago).

  • Every US State and Territory was represented except Utah.

  • The water hyacinth was introduced to America. They were given out for free in Horticulture Hall.

  • Ironically, cotton was not the largest exhibit.

  • The Electric Railroad was the Largest Electric Railway in the United States. The three mile railroad encircled the Exposition grounds and ran every few minutes.

  • Soda Fountains were located throughout the grounds. 10 cent per glass.

  • The Public Comfort Building contained: coat rooms, shoe polishing, baggage check as well as public toilet facilities.

  • It was said to take over 4 days to traverse the 35 miles of exhibits and display's.

  • You could purchase a money order for 1 cent, but it would cost you 8 cents for the money order.

  • The Liberty Bell was displayed in the Main Building.

  • The Mexican Building cost $200,000 and covered 5 acres.

  • Mardi Gras: February 17, 1885.

  • One gallery was dedicated to the inventions and designs of African Americans.

  • Inventor Richard Allen displayed his paper trains wheels. His compressed paper wheel was supposed to provide a quieter ride than steel wheels.

  • Brazil displayed 624 samples of coffee from 80 different qualities.

  • Missouri displayed items from the Mound-Builders.

  • Dakota displayed a house of corn and a wigwam of a Sioux Indian Chief who sat on display everyday with his wife and child.

  • Mississippi displayed a model of a building made of cotton.

  • The Woman's Pavilion featured (amongst other items) a flowered quilt from Louisiana that contained 100,584 pieces of silk.

  • Stained Glass makes an appearance.

  • Also in 1884: The first steam turbine is patented, the US Bureau of Labor is created, and the ten-story Home Life Insurance Building becomes the first steel-skeleton skyscraper in Chicago.

  • The Exposition occupied a half mile of frontage on the Mississippi River.

  • Exhibits had to be removed by August 30, 1885.

  • After the Exposition, all buildings (except Horticultural Hall) were sold to one individual who locked the park. Within a year the buildings were removed and the park opened to the public once again.

  • Horticultural Hall was the only remaining building after the Exposition. It was destroyed in a hurricane in 1915. 

  • Today, all original structures all gone.

  • One of the double cast-iron gateways is now an entrance to Hebrew Rest Cemetery.

  • The Tulane University Herbarium was established after the Exposition.

  • The former Banker's Pavilion is now the Poplar Grove Plantation House .

  • A Pavilion designed by Thomas Sully was relocated to the Abita Springs Tourist Park in 1887.


Art Gallery


  • Area: 1 1/4 acres.

  • Cost: $250,000 (estimated).

  • Constructed: September 20 - October 31, 1884.

  • Size: 250 feet long, 100 feet wide.

  • Building Coverage: 25,000 square feet.

  • Construction: Iron.

  • The Building was fire-proof.


Factories and Mills


  • Area: 1 1/4 acres.

  • Cost: $150,000 (estimated).

  • Constructed: September 25 - October 31, 1884.

  • Size: 350 feet long, 120 feet wide.

  • Exhibits: Cotton in all stages of manufacture.

  • A line of 40 saw-mills in action stretched outside the building to the river. And next to that was a cotton field.


Horticultural Hall


  • Area: 3 1/2 acres.

  • Cost: $100,000 (estimated).

  • Constructed: March 1 - September 1, 1884.

  • Size: 600 feet long, 194 feet wide.

  • Building Coverage: 69,600 square feet.

  • Exhibits: Plants, fruits, flowers.

  • Central Tower: 90 feet tall.

  • Contained a tropical greenhouse, 250 feet long and 25 feet wide.

  • 20,000 plates of fruit were displayed.

  • It was the Largest Conservatory at the time.

  • Other Gardens on the Exposition Grounds: California, Central America, Florida and Mexican Gardens.

  • Building stood on the highest point of the fairgrounds.

  • Became permanent structure after the Exposition.


Main Building


  • Area: 33 acres.

  • Cost: $1,000,000 (estimated).

  • Constructed: March 1 - September 13, 1884.

  • Size: 1378 feet long, 905 feet wide.

  • Walkways: 25 miles (14 feet wide).

  • Galleries: 23 feet wide surrounding the building.

  • Elevators: 18.

  • Building Coverage: 1,656,300 square feet.

  • Refrigeration and Cold Storage House: 370 feet long and produced 5 tons of ice per day.

  • Foreign Exhibit: 250,000 square feet.

  • Machinery Exhibit: 1,102,400 square feet main building + 52,500 square feet extension for a total of 1,154,900 square feet.

  • Contained: General Exhibits, Foreign Exhibit, Machinery and Agricultural Exhibits, Music Hall.

  • The Largest Building in the US at the time.

  • Machinery occupied 413,400 square feet of area.

  • Roof made mainly of glass for illumination.

  • Contained over 2 miles of shafting to operate machinery.

  • The Music Hall had a seating capacity for 11,000 people and a stage that could accommodate 600 musicians.

  • Building located in the center of the fairgrounds.

  • An extension (350 feet long, 150m feet wide) was added for heavy machinery.


US Government Building


  • Contained: US and State Exhibits.

  • Area: 12 acres.

  • Cost: $1,000,000 (estimated).

  • Constructed: August 2 - October 15, 1884.

  • Size: 885 feet long, 565 feet wide.

  • Building Coverage: 616,400 square feet.

  • Exhibitors: Department of State, Post Office, Treasury Department, Navy Department, War Department, Interior Department, US Fishery Commission, Department of Justice, Bureau of Agriculture, Bureau of Education, Smithsonian Institute, as well as State Exhibits.

  • The US Government occupied a third of all exhibits.

  • Above the entrance was 26 foot long, 16 foot high Siberian Mammoth.

  • Another exhibit featured 100 foot long petrified serpents from Mississippi.

  • The Navy Department exhibit contained: torpedoes, models of war ships, ordinance, dynamo-electro machines.

  • This building was constructed because so many exhibitors applied for inclusion that a separate building was needed.


New Orleans, A Few Facts - 1884


  • Tenth Largest City in the US (1880 census).

  • Fourth Largest Commercial District in the US.

  • Population: 250,000.

  • Area: 155 square miles (7 times the size of New York City).

  • Streets: 650 miles.

  • Street Lighting: 7,081 Lampposts (electric, gas, oil).

  • Bigger than London, New York and Philadelphia.

  • Settled by French immigrants in 1718.

  • Colony founded in 1769.

  • Under Spanish control until 1801, then French control until 1804 when Napoleon I sold Louisiana to the US in 1804 for $15,000,000.

  • New Orleans was originally surveyed along the riverfront at 1 1/3 mile in size.

  • Nine Railroad Companies provided train service.

  • Fifteen Steamship Lines provided sea travel.

  • Canal Street divides the city into two sections, French portion (north) and the Up-town portion (south).

  • 10 local newspapers: Bee, City Item, Evening Chronicle, Figaro, German Gazette, Picayune, States, Times-Democrat, Morning Star and Mascott. All were 5 cents except for Figaro which was 10 cents.

  • Home to 25 consul offices.

  • New Orleans was home to a US Mint.


Links, Resources, Sources



Resources, Sources - Books


  • Visitors Guide to the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition and New Orleans. Courier-Journal Job Printing. 1884.



About this SiteAdd a LinkPrivacy Policy | Subscribe Newsletter  | Site FAQContact Us

Earth Station 9 Banners & Logo 2002 red. website Copyright 1997-2003, Stan  Daniloski. All Rights Reserved website 1995-1999 James Charles Kaelin