Exhibition architecture in American world fairs
- Robert W. Rydell
Beginning with the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, world’s fairs (often called universal expositions, international exhibitions, or world expos) became mainstays of the modern world. By 1900, dozens of cities around the globe ranging from Paris to Philadelphia to Calcutta (now Kolkata) played host to these spectacles. By 1945 a worldwide audience of about one billion people had attended these events, underscoring their popularity and potential to influence mass audiences on a global scale. World’s fairs put new technologies and consumer products on display, they introduced new forms of entertainment, and they reflected the empire-building ambitions of many nations. World’s fairs can be understood from many perspectives, but fundamental is the recognition that these complex festivals of modernity were, at the core, built environments and cultural landscapes of dazzling complexity that served as laboratories for architects, designers, and urban planners (see also Exhibition architecture).
The first bona fide world’s fair held in the USA took place in Philadelphia in ...