Is there anything remaining of the 1984 World's Fair?
This year will mark the 30th anniversary of the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition in New Orleans. A world's fair is named an exposition because people from different parts of the world exhibit their cultures, resources and scientific, technological and artistic accomplishments. The theme of New Orleans' world's fair was "The World of Rivers — Fresh Water as a Source of Life." Located along the Mississippi River in the Warehouse District, it was the last such exposition set in the United States — and the first one to file for bankruptcy.
The fair suffered from poor attendance, but many New Orleanians have fond memories of their fair experiences. Highlights included a monorail, a gondola across the Mississippi River, an aquacade, an amphitheater for concerts, the Wonderwall, and the mascot Seymore D. Fair (also commonly spelled Seymour D' Fair). There also were many dining choices, including the Italian Village, the Japanese Pavilion and Pete Fountain's Reunion Hall.
Some traces of the fair remain today. In the Warehouse District, many of the streets were improved and many old buildings were renovated for businesses that hoped to cater to fair guests. These buildings later were converted to commercial and residential uses. These improvements paved the way for the vibrant arts district we have today with museums, restaurants and more than 25 art galleries.
The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is perhaps the fair's greatest legacy. The exhibition hall of the convention center was the fair's Louisiana Pavilion. The convention center opened in 1985 and is now the sixth largest in the U.S. Next to the convention center on the corner of Tchoupitoulas and Henderson streets is a steel and fiberglass bust of Neptune, god of the sea — also known as Ole Man River — and the head of one of his alligators. At the World's Fair in 1984, Neptune, a mermaid friend and some alligators surrounding them made up Bridge Gate, one of the entrances to the fair. They were created by Blaine Kern Studios, which decorates many Mardi Gras floats, and Neptune now holds his triton high, welcoming guests to nearby Mardi Gras World.