Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition

The Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition was an exposition staged between May 1 and October 31 of 1897 in Nashville. It celebrated the 100th anniversary of Tennessee's entry into the union in 1796, although it was a year late.

Many cities and organizations built buildings and exhibit halls on the Exposition grounds, conveniently located on the streetcar line on the western fringe of the city. Among the most prominent were those of Nashville itself, and its nearby rival, Memphis. Nashville designed its pavilion after the Parthenon in Greece due to the city's nickname as The Athens of the South. Memphis's exhibit, in honor of its Egyptian name, was a large pyramid. These structures no longer exist, but they have their echos in both cities today. Nashville's temporary Parthenon was reconstructed in permanent materials in a project lasting from 1920 to 1931 and still stands today as an art gallery on the original exposition grounds, which became Centennial Park. In the 1990s, Memphis built a new sports arena, the Pyramid Arena, in the shape of a large pyramid, by the Mississippi River.

Other attractions on the grounds were the Negro Pavilion, the gondolas on Lake Watauga (which is still a feature of the park today) and the Egyptian Pavilion with its belly dancers. The Centennial Exposition was a great success and is still considered one of the most notable events ever to be held in the state. Unlike most World's Fairs, it did not lose money, although the final accounting showed a direct profit of less than $50.

Famous quotes containing the word exposition:

    Hard times accounted in large part for the fact that the exposition was a financial disappointment in its first year, but Sally Rand and her fan dancers accomplished what applied science had failed to do, and the exposition closed in 1934 with a net profit, which was donated to participating cultural institutions, excluding Sally Rand.
    —For the State of Illinois, U.S. public relief program (1935-1943)