How the Industrial Revolution Fueled the Start of World Fairs


World’s Fairs conjure up images of the technicolor mid-century vision of the future from New York 1964, the Ferris wheel and Midway (and H.H. Holmes) from Chicago 1893, and the Eiffel Tower, which was constructed for the 1889 World Exhibition in Paris. There’s also the idea that these global gatherings were held primarily to entertain the masses. But they were about much more than entertainment.

The earliest versions of World’s Fairs coincided with the spread of the Industrial Revolution from England to the United States and the events provided a platform from which countries and companies could display their industrial might and latest innovations. They also were also designed to instill confidence in a public still getting used to the idea that many of the goods they use every day were now being made using machines, rather than by hand.


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