Revisiting the 1901 South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition

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The South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition, commonly called the Charleston Exposition or the West Indian Exposition, was a regional trade exposition held in here from December 1, 1901 to June 20, 1902.

World's fairs (then known as expositions) were nothing new - they date back well into the 1800s. The problem is this: the Charleston Exposition is little know by many who call the Holy City home, but is a piece of history well worth remembering.

The main idea behind holding the Exposition in Charleston was to stimulate trade through the city’s harbor, where traffic had steadily decreased since the Civil War. President of the exposition company, Frederick C. Wagener, offered up 250 acres of his property on the Ashley River be used as the fairground. To help you understand better where the fair took place, there's this information from Harvey, Bruce G. Harvey's Master’s thesis:

After the end of the Exposition, the city of Charleston acquired the eastern portion of the grounds containing the formal court and main buildings for use as Hampton Park. In the 1910s, the state acquired the western portion of the grounds along the Ashley River for the new campus of the Citadel.

In World's Fair fashion, there were incredible exhibits of America's past, present and future. In addition, there were a great number of exhbition palaces erected on the grounds -- the size and grandeur of which the city has not seen since.

Pictures are worth a thousand words, and the College of Charleston's digital library has images from a South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition pamphlet. You won't believe your eyes. For more on the Exposition itself, I recommend visiting the Wikipedia article and exploring its reference links.

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