Innovation and the Exotic – Pictures from the Paris Exhibition of 1889

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Known as the Exposition Universelle of 1889, this world’s fair was the grand opening of the Eiffel Tower. Though not quite finished, visitors could walk up to the second floor balcony. The tower also served as a gateway into the fair, which featured pavilions containing the latest technology and mostly non-western cultures on display for everyone to enjoy.

These amazing photographs show some of the fair’s 32 million visitors, viewing Paris from above in the Eiffel Tower and experiencing people and objects entirely outside their everyday existence. In some ways, it’s not all that different than the state fairs of today.

To see more photographs from the Paris Exhibition, visit the Library of Congress online catalog.

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Railroad train at the Paris Exposition, 1889

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Interior view of the Gallery of Machines, Exposition universelle internationale de 1889, Paris, France

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Three actors from Theatre Annamite, full-length portrait, in costumes, Paris Exposition, 1889

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Woman in traditional Dutch dress in front of Cacao van Houten exhibit, Paris Exposition, 1889

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Houses of the Romanesque, Medieval, and Renaissance periods in the History of Habitation exhibit, Paris Exposition, 1889

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Dwellings of tribal peoples of Africa, North America and the Arctic regions in the History of Habitation exhibit, Paris Exposition, 1889

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History of Habitation exhibit, Paris Exposition, 1889

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Fountain Coutan with the Central Dome in the background, Paris Exposition, 1889

Paris Eiffel Tower

Base of Eiffel Tower with Trocadéro Palace in background, as seen from the Fountain Coutan, Paris Exposition, 1889

Paris Eiffel Tower

Gas Pavilion and Swedish chalet at right, section of Eiffel Tower at left, Paris Exposition, 1889

Paris Eiffel Tower

Chalet Simard, Pavilion of Bolivia, and the Pavilion of Nicaragua, with base of the Eiffel Tower, and in the far background, a hot air balloon, Paris Exposition, 1889

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Diorama in the History of Work exhibit, demonstrating early bronze casting, Paris Exposition, 1889

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Four women dancers in Javanese Village, full-length portrait, standing, in costume, Paris Exposition, 1889

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Crowd of people along parterre beside illuminated fountains, view toward the Central Dome, Paris Exposition, 1889

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Pavilion of Argentina, Paris Exposition, 1889

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Pavilion of Hawaii, Paris Exposition, 1889

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Pavilion of Chile, left, and Pavilion of Bolivia, right, Paris Exposition, 1889

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Exposition building, Paris Exposition, 1889

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Interior of the Central Dome, with a view toward the Gallery of Thirty Meters, Paris Exposition, 1889

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Entrance to the Italian exhibit in the Palace of Diverse Industries, Paris Exposition, 1889

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Man in traditional costume in Pavilion of Tunesia(?), Paris Exposition, 1889

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Six Javanese women, two in native dress, four in costume, full-length portrait, seated in front of Javanese dwelling, Paris Exposition, 1889

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Crowds crossing the Pont de l’Alma, looking toward the Passerelle de l’Alma on the Quay d’Orsay, Paris Exposition, 1889

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Interior of Paris Exposition building showing two balloons

Paris Eiffel Tower

First floor promenade, Eiffel Tower, Paris Exposition, 1889

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  1. adeluna100

    Hermoso pasado, muchas gracias.

    • Reply
  2. Janet Warren

    These are wonderful to see! Thank you so much for posting them. They show how much our world changes and how much it is similar. I went to the Knoxville TN, Worlds Fair in 1982. A lot of the exhibits were in buildings similar to these.

    • Reply

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