Centennial Exposition

Centennial Exposition
Centennial Exhibition, Opening Day.jpg
Opening day ceremonies at the Centennial Exhibition
BIE-classUniversal exposition
CategoryHistorical Expo
NameCentennial Exposition
BuildingMemorial Hall
Area115 ha
Invention(s)Typewriter, Sewing machine, Telephone
CountryUnited States
VenueFairmount Park
Coordinates39°58′51.6″N 75°12′54″W / 39°58′51.6″N 75°12′54″W / 39.981000; -75.21500
BiddingDecember 1866
AwardedJanuary 1870
OpeningMay 10, 1876 (1876-05-10)
ClosureNovember 10, 1876 (1876-11-10)
Universal expositions
PreviousWeltausstellung 1873 Wien in Vienna
NextExposition Universelle (1878) in Paris

The Centennial International Exhibition of 1876, the first official World's Fair in the United States, was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from May 10 to November 10, 1876, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. Officially named the International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures and Products of the Soil and Mine, it was held in Fairmount Park along the Schuylkill River on fairgrounds designed by Herman J. Schwarzmann. Nearly 10 million visitors attended the exhibition and thirty-seven countries participated in it.


The Great Sanitary Fair (1864) was the model for the Centennial Exhibition. It had raised $1,046,859 for medicine and bandages during the American Civil War.

The Great Central Fair, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania held in 1864 (also known as The Great Sanitary Fair), one of the many sanitary fairs held during the Civil War, anticipated the combination of public, private, and commercial efforts that were necessary for the Centennial. The Great Central Fair, held on Logan Square, had a similar gothic appearance, the waving flags, the huge central hall, the "curiosities" and relics, handmade and industrial exhibits, and also a visit from the President and his family, provided a creative and communal means for ordinary citizens to promote the welfare of Union soldiers and dedicate themselves to the survival of the nation. They also made Philadelphia a vital center in the Union war effort.

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