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"Our Great Exposition"

“The Birth of an Exposition”

The Cotton States and International Exposition was not the first exhibition hosted in Atlanta. Prior to 1895, there had been the moderately successful 1881 International Cotton Exposition and the 1887 Piedmont Exposition. Both exhibitions helped to place Atlanta as a center of regional progress. Encouraged by the popularity of the Chicago Columbian Exposition and the success of a Cotton Palace Exhibit given at the Waco Exhibition in Texas, newspaper editorials called for a new exposition in Atlanta in 1893. The idea spread like wildfire across the city. “Nothing can be of greater benefit to Atlanta as a city, to Georgia as a state and to this entire region of the south than a grand display of our resources and natural advantages…There is no reason in the world why we cannot have the grandest fair ever before seen in this country outside of the corporate limits of Chicago…Yes, let us have the exposition, Atlanta is ready for it. Let us have it…” (“THE BIRTH OF THE EXPOSITION.: How the Great Idea Was Conceived and Carried Out.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945). September 15, 1895, sec. PART 4.)

By the end of 1893, the plans for a new exposition in Atlanta had solidified. It was agreed by an exposition committee that the exhibition would run from September to November of 1895 in Piedmont Park. The endeavor would be ambitious and costly. The estimated costs were close to a million dollars. But the local business men and companies who invested in the project understood that the long term advantages of a successful exhibition would be greater than its costs.

Click on the link for an interactive map of the Cotton States and International Exposition. To find out more about the exhibition buildings and attractions of the exposition, double click on a circle: