Saturday, April 10, 2010

EXPO '84

The 1984 Louisiana World Exposition was a World's Fair held in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was held 100 years after the city's earlier World's Fair, the World Cotton Centennial in 1884. It opened on Saturday, May 12, 1984 and ended on November 11, 1984. Its theme was "The World of Rivers - Fresh Waters as a Source of Life."

Plagued with attendance problems, the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition has the dubious distinction of being the only exposition to declare bankruptcy during its run. Many blamed the low attendance on the fact that it was staged just two years and two states from Knoxville's 1982 World's Fair, and also on the fact that it coincided with the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. There hasn't been a World's Fair in the United States since.

Its 82-acre setting along the banks of the Mississippi River dazzles the imagination with a wonderland of fact and fantasy. Just five minutes from the heart of New Orleans, romantic, alluring, the "City That Care Forgot."

A winding stream and shady walk leads through a large opening in the side of the Louisiana Exhibition Center. Opening off the pathway within the building are state and corporate exhibits. Performers on floating stages entertain spectators in a cool leafy setting along the stream.

Once inside the gate, a broad vista opens up. Mysterious and coloful shapes reflect themselves in a long lagoon flanked by a covered walk and landscaped park. To either side are corporate exhibits and amusements and in the distance a glass galleria leading to the river.

For many people, the first glimpse of the Fair will be looking down Canal Street toward the river. The familiar view of the International Trade Mart and the Spanish Plaza will be dramatically changed. Flags, banners, balloons, music and entertainers lead you to the entrance area. At night, bright lights, fireworks and even laser beams draw visitors down from Canal Street to the Fair.

At the back of the site, old warehouses have been converted to shops, cafes and galleries opening onto a pedestrian mall at Fulton Street. A streetcar shuttles back and forth on tracks which are normally used for freight service.

3 comments:

Major Pepperidge said...

I once found a photo of the prototype space shuttle "Enterprise", and realized that it was from the '84 expo! This really is a "forgotten fair".

outsidetheberm said...

These are really great. A fair that few even remember. Thanks so much.

Bill Cotter said...

I have pictures from the 1984 Fair and information about my book on it at http://www.worldsfairphotos.com/neworleans84/index.htm. The Fair was a big hit with the local residents but has all but been forgotten since then.

- Bill Cotter