Southern Exposition

The Southern Exposition was a five-year series of world's fairs held in the city of Louisville, Kentucky, from 1883 to 1887 in what is now Louisville's Old Louisville neighborhood. The exposition, held for 100 days each year on 45 acres (180,000 m2) immediately south of Central Park, which is now the St. James-Belgravia Historic District, was essentially an industrial and mercantile show. At the time, the exposition was larger than any previous American exhibition with the exception of the Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia in 1876. U.S. President Chester A. Arthur opened the first annual exposition on August 1, 1883.

Southern Exposition
Portion of poster for 1884 Southern Exposition
BIE-classUnrecognized exposition
NameSouthern Exposition
Area45 acres (180,000 m2)
CountryUnited States
CityLouisville, Kentucky
VenueLouisville's Old Louisville neighborhood.


One highlight of the show was the largest to-date installation of incandescent light bulbs, having been recently invented by Thomas Edison (a resident of Louisville sixteen years before), to bring light to the exposition in the nighttime. The contract with the Louisville Board of Trade was for 5,000 incandescent lamps. 4,600 lamps for the exhibition hall and 400 for an art gallery, more than all the lamps installed in New York City at that time, were used.

George H. Yater writes in his book Two Hundred Years at the Fall of the Ohio:

See also


  • Yater, George H. (1987). Two Hundred Years at the Fall of the Ohio: A History of Louisville and Jefferson County (2nd ed.). Filson Club, Incorporated.

Further reading

  • Bush, Bryan S. (2011). Louisville's Southern Exposition, 1883-1887: The City of Progress. Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press. ISBN 978-1-60949-143-7.

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