Considered by many to be the first world’s fair, the 1851 Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations was held in London’s Hyde Park and is noted for its iconic Crystal Palace in which many international events and exhibits were held. Organized by Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert, inventor Henry Cole and other members of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, the international exhibition was the first of a series of world’s fairs designed to highlight global advancements in technology and industry while featuring advancements made in the United Kingdom.
Notable attendees included Queen Victoria, considered the “grandmother of Europe” for her many blood relations who were monarchs or members of royal families across the continent. Other famous attendees included naturalist Charles Darwin, Samuel Colt, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot and Lord Tennyson. The Great Exhibition and Crystal Palace closed its doors on Oct. 15, 1851.
Although not officially a World’s Fair recognized by the Bureau of International Exhibitions, the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial American Pacific Exposition was a global event held in Portland, Ore. The event drew more than 1.6 million visitors during its run of four months and had exhibits from 21 nations.
It was scheduled on the 100th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition’s “Corps of Discovery” stay in Portland after finally reaching the Pacific Coast in 1805. The event had a dual theme of westward expansion’s impact on economic growth while celebrating Lewis and Clark’s winter stay in Portland a century earlier. The exposition is credited with boosting Portland’s local population from 161,000 in 1905 to about 270,000 five years later in 1910. The event closed on Oct. 14, 1905, after opening on June 1.
1962 – Long live the Space Needle
The iconic Seattle Space Needle remains the most enduring landmark from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, which ran from April 21 through Oct. 21 in Seattle. More than 10 million people visited the fair during its run. The Seattle World’s Fair is also one of the few world’s fairs to actually turn a profit during the 20th century.
The famous Space Needle, a futuristic monorail and several new sports and entertainment venues were built for the event with many remaining long afterward. Because of the famous space race between the Soviet Union and United States and given the Boeing Company’s location in the Pacific Northwest city, organizers chose a theme representing space, science and the future. Then President John F. Kennedy was to deliver comments during the Oct. 21 closing ceremony but canceled due to the Cuban missile crisis.
Tradeshow History reported by Exhibit City News
2005 – Occupational Safety draws record crowds
A record number of show attendees poured through the doors during the October 2005 A+A International Trade Fair for Occupational Safety and Health at Work held in Dusseldorf, Germany. Some 54,350 people visited the nearly 1,400 exhibitors representing 57 nations. There was a noticeable increase in the number of visitors from the U.S. and Asia, and the largest exhibits were sponsored by Germany, China, Great Britain, Italy and France. Exhibits featured various safety equipment and other devices, including new earplug designs, state-of-the-art safety systems and new ergonomic designs for a more comfortable and efficient workplace.
2010 – World Expo breaks single-day record
By the time it closed on Oct. 31, a record 73 million people poured through the gates of the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China, including a World’s Fair single-day record 1.03 million visitors on Oct. 16. The event was held along both banks of the Huangpu River between the Nanpu Bridge and Lupu Bridge in the center of Shanghai.
More than $48 million worth of preparations were made before the Expo began, and 18,000 families and 270 factories were relocated to make room for the event. A record 192 nations registered to participate in Expo 2010. The theme for the event was “Better City, Better Life” to reflect Shanghai’s growing importance in global affairs.
2011 – IMEX: Coming to America
The IMEX Group launched its inaugural IMEX America tradeshow at the Las Vegas Sands Expo and Convention Center from Oct. 9 through Oct. 12, resulting in about $2.8 billion in business for the global and U.S.-based meetings, events and incentive-travel industries as determined by exit interviews of the show’s nearly 2,000 hosted-buyers and attendees.
The average order from hosted-buyer show attendees totaled nearly $500,000 from the almost 1,900 exhibitors representing 147 nations. About 75 percent of exhibitors hailed from the United States while the next highest participation came from Canada with about 5 percent of all exhibits. Booths representing another 34 nations also were present during the inaugural event.