During the Centennial year of 1876, Philadelphia was host to a celebration of 100 years of American cultural and industrial progress. Officially known as the “International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures and Products of the Soil and Mine,” the Centennial Exhibition, the first major World’s Fair to be held in the United States, opened on May 10, 1876 on a 285-acre tract of Fairmount Park overlooking the Schuylkill River.
The fairgrounds, designed almost exclusively by 27-year-old German immigrant Hermann J. Schwarzmann, were host to 37 nations and countless industrial exhibits occupying over 250 individual pavilions. The Exhibition was immensely popular, drawing nearly 9 million visitors at a time when the population of the United States was 46 million.
The most lasting accomplishment of the Exhibition was to introduce America as a new industrial world power, soon to eclipse the might and production of every other industrialized nation, and to showcase the City of Philadelphia as a center of American culture and industry. MORE