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Fair Shakes: NOLA Remembers 1984 World's Fair on 30th Anniversary

By Ashley Larsen

On November 11th 1984, the Louisiana World’s Fair drew to a close and so did an iconic chapter in New Orleans’ history. The Fairheld many dubious distinction besides bringing new sidewalks to the Quarter: it was the first to go bankrupt, the last one to reside in the United States, and it brought in only two thirds of the expected 11 million guests. However, those that did attend found positives.


The 1984 World's Fair brings back a lot of fond memories for the local community. There was the futuristic Wonderwall, the Aquacade performances, the monorail, the Vatican Pavilion, and the lovable pelican mascot Seymore D. Fair. 


Today, November 7th, 2014 at 5p.m. a commemorative plaque will be unveiled at the Plaza at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.  Followed by a second line to the food court at The Outlet Collection at the Riverwalk, where there will be a reunion for the former employees, contractors, exhibitors, concessionaires, performers, and lovers of the 1984 Louisiana World’s Fair. 


The Louisiana World Exposition started in May of 1984 and had a six month run filled with fireworks, gondolas, mermaids, lay-offs, and bounced paychecks. The fair had an inauspicious start from the beginning, it was too big, it expected too many people, and spent too much money. In fact, the fair had to get a 10 million dollar loan a month before it even opened and it did not receive much help from the government which gave it only 10 million dollars a pittance compared to the financial backing other U.S. World Fair’s had received. 


The theme of the Fair was “The World of Rivers – Fresh Water as a Source of Life,” and was located mainly in the Warehouse District along the Mississippi River. 


The Warehouse District is probably one of the largest positive side effects of the event. The expo led the community and developers to see the benefits of the area. Now thirty years later it is a major part of the city, development is still booming, and it houses many art galleries and hotels. 


The aerial gondola that once hung 320 feet over the Mississippi is gone and so is the Quality Seal Amphitheater where stars like Willie Nelson, Linda Ronstadt, and Neil Young once graced its stage. But the Ernest N. Morial Convention center still stands, all 1.1 million square feet of it on the Mississippi’s edge. During 1984, it served as the great hall of the Expo and has been expanded many times since its days in the World Fair to become the 6th largest in the U.S. 


There is discount parking at the Hilton Surface Lot with a voucher from the event. 


The Plaza at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is located at the corner of Julia and Convention Center Blvd.

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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde


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Michael Weber, B.A.


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Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt

B. E. Mintz

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