Atlanta’s World’s Fair

The topic in class the other day was the Architecture of Leisure in America, or something like that. Our reading and discussion consisted of Coney Island’s amusement parks, Disney, and the Worlds Fairs, specifically, of course, the Chicago Worlds Fair of 1893 which was no longer just one Crystal Palace, but a whole array of buildings with dramatic architectural facades to house the latest innovations of the day. Designed to be an ideal city (mostly Beaux Arts style of course) it exceeded other World’s Fairs in scale and grandeur. I was enthralled. So imagine my delight when the very next day i sat down to scan through some Sandborn maps of Atlanta on microfilm and the very first frame was of Atlanta’s World’s Fair just 2 years later.


(check out this plan too)

The Cotton States and International Expo of 1895 sat on what is now Piedmont Park, the map I came across was gorgeous, irresistible, and i coveted it even though it printed out on the awful blue paper of the Kenan Research Lib. In some later research I found out that Booker T. Washington gave the opening speech, and much of what is Piedmont Park’s layout today seems to’ve come from this exposition, including the infrastructure of the park and Clara Meer, the lake. Heck, J and I have trimmed hedges on an embankment by the lake, standing on walls we never knew were the vestiges of a World’s Fair!

Turns out, the park at that time was not owned by the city, and it wasn’t until 1904 that the city finally bought it (having overcome their thinking that it was a. too far away and b. we already have Grant Park why another?). It wasn’t until 1909 though that Frederick Law Olmsted was commissioned to shape up the bones of Piedmont into what it is today.

and the park today! there is so much to go into there.

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