When was the First World’s Fair?

What we call a “world’s fair” is really an exposition. The fair is one of the oldest and most popular means of selling and trading goods. Expositions, on the other hand, are for a different purpose. These large displays are set up mainly to show the industrial and artistic development of a particular country or a particular period.

The first exposition, or “world’s fair”, was the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations. It was held in Hyde Park, London, in 1851. The exhibition was housed in one building, the Crystal Palace. This permanent building was made entirely of iron and glass, like a huge greenhouse.

It was destroyed by fire in 1936. The first United States international exposition was in New York City in 1853. Although nearly 5,000 exhibitors took part, about half of them from 23 foreign nations, it was not a success.


The United States first great exposition was the Centennial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1876. It commemorated the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. There, for the first time, thousands of people saw the products and manufactures of the entire nation brought together.

Alexander Graham Bell exhibited his telephone publicly for the first time at the Centennial. Other famous exhibitions include the “festival of Britain”, held in 1951 to celebrate the aniversary of the Great Exhibition of 1851, and the marvelously successful Expo’67 held in Canada.    

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