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Spotlight on History

40th Anniversary of the New Orleans World’s Fair

Louisiana World Exposition


May 12, 2024, marks the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Louisiana World Exposition, also known as the New Orleans World’s Fair.  The event featured pavilions from countries around the world focused on the theme, The World of Rivers: Fresh Water as a Source of Life.  Even though visitors enjoyed the attractions, the Louisiana World Exposition holds the distinction as the only world’s fair to file bankruptcy and as the last world’s fair held in the United States.  Explore LPB’s coverage of this major event, including the planning process, the financial troubles, pavilion tours, and the fair’s closure on November 11, 1984.


Louisiana World Exposition Flag


Plans for the World’s Fair (1982)

Watch this story from Louisiana: The State We’re In on the planning process for the Louisiana World Exposition.



World's Fair Countdown Clock


World’s Fair Plans (1983)

View this story from Louisiana: The State We’re In on the ongoing plans and the potential economic impact of the World’s Fair.



Construction for World's Fair


New Orleans Prepares for World’s Fair (1984)

See this story from Louisiana: The State We’re In on the ongoing construction of the 82-acre site and the efforts to publicize the fair around the world.



Afro-American Pavilion


Afro-American Pavilion Preview (1984)

Watch an interview from Folks with New Orleans First Lady Sybil Morial and designer John Scott on the Afro-American Pavilion, I’ve Known Rivers.



Speaker of the House John Alario


World’s Fair Bailout (1984)

View an interview from Louisiana: The State We’re In with Speaker of the House John Alario on the Legislature’s proposed $10 million bailout of the World’s Fair.



Alligator Roller Coaster at 1984 World's Fair


World’s Fair Preview (1984)

Tag along with Louisiana: The State We’re In for a tour of the Louisiana World Exposition on the day before it opened.




French Pavlion at the New Orleans World's Fair


French Pavilion Tour (1984)

See Amanda LaFleur’s interview from En Français with Robert Van Kersbergen, the creator of the French Pavilion.




Afro-American Pavilion at the New Orleans World's Fair


Afro-American Pavilion Tour (1984)

Take a tour of I’ve Known Rivers, the Afro-American Pavilion, with Rob Hinton of Folks and tour guide Margo Sims.



Mermaid Statue from the 1984 World's Fair


Problems with the World’s Fair (1984)

Watch a Louisiana: The State We’re In report on the fair’s financial woes and on the separate grand jury investigations into alleged corruption involving the fair and its operation.



Louisiana World Exposition Quilt


1984 World’s Fair Quilt (2016)

In this Louisiana Treasures segment from Art Rocks!, learn more about the history the World’s Fair quilt on display at the Louisiana State Archives.





To see more stories, check out the complete 1984 New Orleans World’s Fair topic.