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A Glimpse at Tradeshow History (April 2013)

1904 – World’s Fair expands west

Over 200,000 people attended the opening day of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also known as the 1904 World’s Fair, held in St. Louis, Missouri. The fair celebrated the nation’s progress and westward expansion following the Louisiana Purchase. “Open ye gates. Swing wide, ye portals,” announced David R. Francis, president of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company, at the fair’s opening on April 30.

Close to 1,500 buildings were constructed upon 1,200 acres of a woodland park for the 7-month fair. A mile-long arcade called the Pike included popular culture entertainment such as contortionists, Jim Key the Educated Horse and an elephant water slide. The most impressive of these displays was the 265-foot Observation Wheel, offering riders an aerial view of the entire exposition.

1924 – Railway to British Empire Exhibition

King George V opened the British Empire Exhibition on April 23, which would attract 27 million attendees. The colonial exhibition was held in an effort to strengthen relations and loyalty among the 58 countries of the British Empire, of which 56 participated. The British Post Office designed commemorative postage stamps and postcards for the first time in honor of the British Empire Exhibition.

A railway linked the exhibition to the London Marylebone station with several light railways such as the screw-driven “Never-Stop Railway.” Several railway companies also exhibited the latest locomotives and coaches at the Palace of Engineering, including an electric locomotive displayed at the Palace of Housing and Transport with paneling, doors and framework removed for an interior view.

Seattle Space Needle, 1962

Century 21 Exposition debuted iconic Seattle Space Needle.

1962 – Seattle Space Needle

Themes of space, science and future technological advances were highlighted at the World’s Fair in the midst of the Space Race against the Soviet Union. The fair, also known as the Century 21 Exposition, took place in Seattle, Washington, established as an aerospace city where aircraft manufacturer Boeing was founded in 1916. Several public buildings emerged from the fairgrounds, most notably the infamous Space Needle that stands today as the city’s iconic landmark.

Fairgrounds were divided into 11 different sections, including World of Science, World of Commerce and Industry, and World of Art. World of Science included a NASA exhibit with models and mockups of satellites and a simulated voyage traveling through the Solar System while World of Commerce and Industry entertained attendees with a fashion show by Vogue magazine along a performed pool.

2009 – Freeman goes green

To celebrate Earth Day on April 22, Freeman announced two new initiatives that can substantially lessen the environmental impact of the face-to-face industry. These new efforts are part of Freeman’s overall green philosophy.

Freeman began offering customers the opportunity to rent sustainable tradeshow exhibits that are attractive and affordable. The exhibits are eco-friendly and functional. FSC-certified hardwood plywood is used to create the exhibit panel walls. The aluminum extrusions are made of 85 percent recycled content. In addition, the fibers in the exhibit carpet are made from recycled content. The carpet padding is also made from 98 percent recycled foam content.

To reduce paper waste, Freeman also implemented a digital order entry system. The system uses document management software to manage and store advance orders electronically. Freeman estimates that more than 200,000 orders will be processed digitally in 2009, resulting in an estimated savings of 600,000 sheets of paper.

2011 – MPEA picks SMG

SMG chosen to privately manage McCormick Place in 2011.

McCormick Place in Chicago.

On April 26, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) approved the selection of private convention venue management firm SMG to run McCormick Place starting July 1, 2011. The move toward private management continues the implementing of reforms enacted by the Illinois General Assembly in 2010 to streamline operations and lower costs for McCormick Place customers.

The MPEA believes its ability to turn over operational responsibilities to a private firm will result in operational cost reductions and continued improvements to the customer experience and that it will ultimately enhance the ability of McCormick Place to compete in an increasingly competitive convention and tradeshow industry.

Following a highly competitive bid process, SMG was chosen because of its focus on cost reductions and customer experience enhancements.

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