1984 Louisiana World Exposition

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EXPO New Orleans, Louisiana 1984
Shuttle Enterprise at 1984 World Fair New Orleans.jpg
Shuttle Enterprise at 1984 World Fair New Orleans
BIE-class Specialized exposition
Category International specialized exposition
Name Louisiana World Exposition
Motto World Of Rivers
Area 34 hectares (84 acres)
Visitors 7,335,279
Organized by Ralph Perlman
Countries 95
Country United States
City New Orleans, Louisiana
Coordinates 29°56′40″N 90°03′45″W / 29.94444°N 90.06250°W / 29.94444; -90.06250
Opening May 12, 1984 (1984-05-12)
Closure November 11, 1984 (1984-11-11)
Specialized expositions
Previous 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville
Next Expo '85 in Tsukuba
Universal expositions
Previous Expo '70 in Osaka
Next Seville Expo '92 in Seville
Horticultural expositions
Previous Internationale Gartenbauaustellung 83 in Munich
Next Expo '90 in Osaka
Horticultural (AIPH) International Garden Festival

The 1984 Louisiana World Exposition was a World's Fair held in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the United States. It was held 100 years after the city's earlier World's Fair, the World Cotton Centennial in 1884. It opened on Saturday, May 12, 1984, and ended on Sunday, November 11, 1984.[1] Its theme was "The World of Rivers—Fresh Waters as a Source of Life".

Plagued with attendance problems, the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition has the distinction of being the only exposition to declare bankruptcy during its run.[2] Many blamed the low attendance on the fact that it was staged just two years and two states from Knoxville's 1982 World's Fair,[2] and because it coincided with the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Others may believe that the 1982 opening of Walt Disney World's Epcot Center may have also drawn more people to Orlando, Florida.

This expo also had the distinction of being the very first World Exposition in the history of expo's to have an official fair mascot. Seymore D. Fair, a large white costume pelican, became one of the most recognizable figures of any modern day World Exposition.

There has not been a World's Fair in the United States since the exposition in New Orleans.

An 84-acre (340,000 m2) site along the Mississippi River was cleared of rundown warehouses, replaced by the structures of the Fair. This was to be a "Class B" exposition as defined by the Bureau of International Expositions, the international body governing world's fairs. There were no major exhibits such as had been seen at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, which started predictions that the fair could be a flop. Although 7 million guests[2] toured the fair, it was not enough to recoup the $350 million spent to host the event. Paychecks started bouncing, and it was only through government intervention that the gates remained open through the scheduled run. The fair drew 30,000 less people in the first month than was predicted.[3]

The state of Louisiana spent $5 million on the fair; that amount was overseen by Ralph Perlman, the state budget director, who tried to obtain maximum use of the funds.[4]

Despite its problems, the fair is fondly remembered by many New Orleans residents, particularly for its noteworthy post-modern architecture, such as the groundbreaking Wonderwall designed by noted architect Charles Willard Moore and his partner William Turnbull.

One of the fair's more famous attractions was the Mississippi Aerial River Transit (MART). This was a gondola lift that took visitors across the Mississippi River from the fair site in the Warehouse District to Algiers on the West Bank. Also on display was the space shuttle Enterprise.[5]

The Fair was held along the Mississippi River front near the New Orleans Central Business District, on a site that was formerly a railroad yard. While the Fair itself was a financial failure, several old warehouses were renovated for the fair, which helped to revitalize the adjacent Old Warehouse District. The Riverwalk Marketplace and Building 1 of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center are structures originally built for the fair. Most other structures and the MART were demolished after the fair closed. After the closing of 1984 Louisiana World Exposition, the monorails were moved to Florida and re-used at Zoo Miami.[6]

The insolvency of the 1984 World's Fair owner, Louisiana World Exposition, Inc., caused some subcontractors involved in the construction of the fair to sue the general contractor for payment of contract prices. Southern States Masonry, Inc. v. J.A. Jones Const. Co., 507 So.2d 198 (La. 1987). Even though there was a clause in the contract stating the subcontractors would be paid on the final payment by the owner to the general contractor, the payment provision did not constitute a suspensive condition that negated any obligation on the part of the general contractor until they were paid by the owner. The important issue was that the contract stated payment would occur "when" the general contractor was paid, not "if" they were paid.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pelle, Findling. "New Orleans 1984". Encyclopedia of World's Fairs and Expositions. p. 361. ISBN 978-0-7864-3416-9. 
  2. ^ a b c Pelle, Findling. "New Orleans 1984". Encyclopedia of World's Fairs and Expositions. p. 360. ISBN 978-0-7864-3416-9. 
  3. ^ Cotter, Bill (2008). The 1984 World's Fair. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. p. 120. ISBN 0-7385-6856-2. 
  4. ^ "Ralph Perlman". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. Retrieved May 31, 2013. 
  5. ^ "WWL-TV: Space Shuttle Enterprise leaves the 1984 World's Fair". Archived from the original on 2012-02-21. Retrieved 2012-02-19. 
  6. ^ Cotter, Bill, The 1984 New Orleans World's Fair, Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, South Carolina, 2008, p.120. ISBN 0-7385-6856-2

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