1984 New Orleans
Space Shuttle Enterprise at 1984 World Fair New Orleans
BIE-classSpecialized exposition
CategoryInternational specialized exposition
NameLouisiana World Exposition
MottoWorld Of Rivers
Area34 hectares (84 acres)
Organized byRalph Perlman
MascotSeymore D. Fair
CountryUnited States
CityNew Orleans
Coordinates29°56′40″N 90°03′45″W / 29.94444°N 90.06250°W / 29.94444; -90.06250
OpeningMay 12, 1984 (1984-05-12)
ClosureNovember 11, 1984 (1984-11-11)
Specialized expositions
Previous1982 World's Fair in Knoxville
NextExpo '85 in Tsukuba
Universal expositions
PreviousExpo '70 in Osaka
NextSeville Expo '92 in Seville
Horticultural expositions
PreviousInternational Garden Expo 83 in Munich
NextExpo '90 in Osaka
Horticultural (AIPH)International Garden Festival

The 1984 Louisiana World Exposition was a World's Fair held in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. It was held 100 years after the city's earlier World's Fair, the World Cotton Centennial in 1884. It opened on Saturday, May 12, 1984, and ended on Sunday, November 11, 1984.[1] Its theme was "The World of Rivers—Fresh Waters as a Source of Life".

Plagued with attendance problems, the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition was the only exposition to declare bankruptcy during its run.[2] Many blamed the low attendance on the fact that it was staged just two years and two states from Knoxville's 1982 World's Fair,[2] and because it coincided with the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Others believe that the 1982 opening of Walt Disney World's EPCOT Center may have also drawn more people to Orlando, Florida. As of 2023, there has not been a World's Fair in the United States since the exposition in New Orleans.

This expo also had the distinction of being the first World Exposition in the history of expos to have an official fair mascot. Seymore D. Fair, a large white costume pelican, became one of the most recognizable figures of any modern-day World Exposition.

U.S. Navy's host ship for the 1984 World's Fair was USS Stump.

The Fair

The government of Louisiana spent $5 million on the fair; that amount was overseen by Ralph Perlman, the state budget director, who tried to obtain maximum use of the funds.[3] An 84-acre (340,000 m2) site along the Mississippi River was cleared of rundown warehouses, replaced by the structures of the Fair. This was to be a "Class B" exposition as defined by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the international body governing world's fairs. There were no major exhibits such as had been seen at the 1964–65 New York World's Fair, which started predictions that the fair could be a flop. Although 7 million guests[2] toured the fair, it was not enough to recoup the $350 million spent to host the event. Paychecks started bouncing, and it was only through government intervention that the gates remained open through the scheduled run. The fair drew 30,000 fewer people in the first month than was predicted.[4] One of the fair's more famous attractions was the Mississippi Aerial River Transit (MART). This was a gondola lift that took visitors across the Mississippi River from the fair site in the Warehouse District to Algiers on the West Bank. Also on display was the Space Shuttle Enterprise; in contrast, the US Coast Guard sail training barque USCGC Eagle was open for tours adjacent to the shuttle for the week immediately before the official opening and the week after.

The Fair was held along the Mississippi River front near the New Orleans Central Business District, on a site that was formerly a railroad yard. While the Fair itself was a financial failure, several old warehouses were renovated for the fair, which helped to revitalize the adjacent Old Warehouse District. 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.

USS Lexington visited the fair and was open for tourist visits while much of the crew enjoyed liberty.

USS Harlan County LST-1196 visited the fair for three days and was open for tourist visits, while much of the crew enjoyed liberty.


Seymore D. Fair

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 city's arts district seen today.

The Riverwalk Marketplace and 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, it later reopened as a convention center in 1985. Next to the convention center on the corner of Tchoupitoulas and Henderson streets is a steel and fiberglass bust of Neptune and the head of one of his alligators. At the fair, the statues of Neptune, a mermaid and some alligators surrounding them made up Bridge Gate, one of the entrances to the fair. Most other structures and the MART were demolished after the fair closed. The monorails were moved to Florida and re-used at Zoo Miami.[5] Despite its problems, the fair is fondly remembered by many New Orleans residents, particularly for its noteworthy post-modern architecture, such as the groundbreaking Wonderwall designed by noted architect Charles Willard Moore and his partner William Turnbull.

A bronze copy of Ivan Meštrović's sculpture Christ and the Samaritan Woman was exhibited at the Vatican pavilion and is found today at the Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans.[6][7]

On November 11, 2014, on the Fair's 30th Anniversary, a large bronze commemorative plaque was unveiled at the corner of Julia Street and Convention Center Boulevard, the heart of the world fair site.


See also


  1. ^ Pelle, Findling (2008). "New Orleans 1984". Encyclopedia of World's Fairs and Expositions. p. 361. ISBN 978-0-7864-3416-9.
  2. ^ a b c Pelle, Findling (2008). "New Orleans 1984". Encyclopedia of World's Fairs and Expositions. p. 360. ISBN 978-0-7864-3416-9.The insolvency of the 1984 World's Fair owner, Louisiana World Exposition, Inc., caused some subcontractors involved in the construction of the fair to sue the general contractor for payment of contract prices. Southern States Masonry, Inc. v. J.A. Jones Const. Co., 507 So.2d 198 (La. 1987). Even though there was a clause in the contract stating the subcontractors would be paid on the final payment by the owner to the general contractor, the payment provision did not constitute a suspensive condition that negated any obligation on the part of the general contractor until they were paid by the owner. The important issue was that the contract stated payment would occur "when" the general contractor was paid, not "if" they were paid.
  3. ^ "Ralph Perlman". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  4. ^ Cotter, Bill (2008). The 1984 World's Fair. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-7385-6856-0.
  5. ^ Cotter, Bill, The 1984 New Orleans World's Fair, Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, South Carolina, 2008, p.120. ISBN 0-7385-6856-2
  6. ^ Advocate, Bruce Nolan Special to The. "1984 world's fair: Good times, spurred growth left lasting memories with the locals". NOLA.com. Retrieved February 7, 2023.
  7. ^ "Abp. Hannan turned on charm for Vatican exhibit". Clarion Herald. Retrieved February 7, 2023.