The great Southern Exposition of art, industry and agriculture opened in Louisville, Ky., on August 1, 1883. Until the day it closed, on October 31, 1887, Louisvillians were able to view and participate in the latest and best technology, industry, culture, commerce, agriculture and arts the world had to offer. In fact, the exposition was the first in the world to be lit with electrical lights.
Our city witnessed operas, orchestras, theatre, fireworks, parades, presidents and dinosaurs, plus electricity and steam engines with all their uses. Louisville experienced people and food from foreign cultures and saw many wonders of the natural world. 
The event attracted skilled craftsmen who stayed and made Louisville their home, and a housing boom on 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th streets produced 260 new homes by 1885. 
Marking a new industrial age, Louisville gained national prominence for linking the North and the South.
“Louisville’s World Fair: The Southern Exposition” is on display through January 15 at The Conrad-Caldwell Museum, at 1402 St. James Court in Old Louisville. Included are over 150 rare artifacts, including stereo views, photographs, large lithographs, plates, glassware, tickets, medals and site maps. For information about tours, lectures and workshops, call (502) 636-5023.