Conclusions and Legacy
Over a hundred years later, few signs remain of the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Piedmont Park. When the park became a public park of the city of Atlanta in 1904, many of its buildings were sold to make way for an extensive remodeling of ground. Only faint traces, such as Lake Clair Meer and the Grand Plaza (now known as the Athletic Circle) and the occasional stone stairway which once led to the main exhibition buildings can be found in the park today.
But the value of the exposition extends beyond its five months duration or the structures it left behind. World fairs such as the Cotton States and International Exposition can offer a unique glimpse into the values of the time. 1895 was part of a period of rapid change for the South. Atlanta’s exposition represented a departure from the old ways of the past and the ushering in of the “New South” as an age of Southern modernity. But underneath all this rhetoric of modernity and progress was a culture of white supremacy. The Cotton States and International Exposition shows us the ideologies of race and imperialism that would have a lasting impact on the South for years to come.