Expositions & Festivals


  For many years Cincinnati employed fairs and expositions to attract tourists to the city by providing entertainment and information on the newest machines being produced, mainly by Cincinnati companies. Between 1838 and 1860 the Ohio Mechanics Institute sponsored 18 trade fairs. Starting in 1870 the city's Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade joined O.M.I. in sponsoring the famous Industrial Expositions which flourished for 19 years. In 1900, another series of industrial pageants began under the sponsorship of the Cincinnati Business Men's Club, the Fall Festival Association and the Chamber of Commerce. The sixth in this series, in 1910 was known as the Ohio Valley Exposition celebrating the completion of a dam on the Ohio River and the formation of the Ohio Valley Improvement Association, an organization formed to make the Ohio River navigable the year around from Pittsburgh to Cairo.
  All these exhibitions were held at the Music Hall and on occasion extended across the street at Washington Park on the eastern side. The Miami Erie Canal was also used since it went past the Music Hall on the western side of the building. You will see all this in the cards below. To see more of the Music Hall go to the Buildings Page.


1871 Exposition Gold Medal.jpg (176562 bytes)   *   1871 Exposition Gold Medal Reverse.jpg (182910 bytes)



1873 Expo-3.jpg (245178 bytes)                1873 Expo-1.jpg (1441627 bytes)                1873 Expo.jpg (701443 bytes)


    In 1875 Reuben R. Springer offered to contribute $125,000 for a building if the city would commit the property tax free in perpetuity and a matching $125,000 was raised from the general public. The 1875 Industrial Exposition was the 6th and last to be held in Saengerfest  Halle that had been built in 1867 and had been renamed Exposition Hall in 1870 was no longer considered adequate. There was no exposition planned for 1876 so as not to compete with the United States Centennial Exposition. Sangerfest Halle was demolished in 1877 to make way for the new Music Hall. The new Music Hall complex, opened for the 1878 May Music Festival , was designed to provide space not only for music festivals but also for conventions, industrial expositions, and other public celebrations. In 1879 Machinery Hall (North Wing) and Art Hall (South Wing) was added to the complex.


1878 Expo-2.jpg (690328 bytes)



Music Hall 1878.jpg (645047 bytes)                    Music-Hall-1879.jpg (602727 bytes)                    Industrial Expo Building.jpg (197994 bytes)



1888 Expo..jpg (1944261 bytes)        1888 Exposition.jpg (375891 bytes)        1888 Expo.jpg (229271 bytes)                1888 Expo Map.jpg (2831947 bytes)

Venice.jpg (332152 bytes)                                            North End Machinery Hall.jpg (199809 bytes)
                                                                                    North End of Hall

1888 Expo.1.jpg (397709 bytes)    Music Hall 1888 Expo.jpg (655551 bytes)    1888 Expo Entrance on Canal.jpg (402800 bytes)    1888 Expo-on the canal-2.jpg (819951 bytes)    1888 Expo-On the Canal.jpg (1393308 bytes)

   The 14th Cincinnati Industrial Exposition in 1888 celebrated the 100th anniversary of Cincinnati's founding. The first 3 images above give a very nice overall view of this magnificent exposition. These views clearly show the temporary buildings constructed in Washington Park on the right. On the left, in the 3rd image, you can see the 1248 foot building constructed over the Miami Erie Canal from twelfth to fifteenth Street. This is where gondolas, brought over from Italy, ferried patrons up and down the canal. "Machinery Hall" was also inside this structure. The building was 114 feet wide at the ends and 150 feet wide in the center where it connected with Music Hall. The aisles on both sides of the canal were devoted to exhibits of machinery. The several hundred exhibits produced the power necessary to light and operate the other exhibition halls.

Portion of Machinery Hall.jpg (855371 bytes)
Section of Machinery Hall

   There were attractive pavilions at each end plus a refreshment hall. four bridges crossed the canal. The arched roof formed a domed like roof 40 feet above the water. The structure was illuminated at night by "innumerable jets of gas and electric lights." James W. McLaughlin, Cincinnati,  was the architect.
   The map, in the first row, was produced in 1888 for the exposition, it is very large. In the row directly above You can see the bridge connecting Washington Park with Music Hall in the 1st two images. The center image shows the twin towers which mark the entrance to the three-block-long building over the canal. Over 1 million people attended the exposition that ran from July 4 to November 10. The 4th image shows some of the gondolas that were used. The last image shows the patrons enjoying the Venice setting of the Miami Erie Canal. Electric lighting had been introduced at the 1883 Exposition.

Expo 88-horsecar.jpg (718033 bytes)

   This is a nice shot of a summer horsecar arriving at the 1888 Centennial Exposition. This view also clearly shows the electric lights that were used to light the exposition. This was the year that electricity also was started to be used by the Cincinnati Street Railway.


Not a postcard
Industrial Expo scene.jpg (260442 bytes)
Scene of unknown year Exposition



May Festival Chorus.jpg (306604 bytes)
May Festival Children's Chorus



   The next 32 cards are of the Ohio Valley Exposition which was held from August 29 to September 24 in 1910. This exposition celebrated the completion of the worlds largest movable dam, at Fernbank. President William Howard Taft attended the May Festival, dedicating a statue of Theodore Thomas.

Ohio Valley Expo .jpg (116215 bytes)    Ohio Valley Expo 3.jpg (120879 bytes)    1910 Expo-RP-canal.jpg (95770 bytes)    Ohio Valley Expo 4.jpg (113885 bytes)    Ohio Valley Expo 2.jpg (122422 bytes)


Official Expo Poster.jpg (39856 bytes)
Official Expo.


Music Hall 7.jpg (109120 bytes)        Ohio Valley Expo vert 2.jpg (106444 bytes)        Pigs-Exposition Souvenir.jpg (121699 bytes)        Ohio Valley Expo vert.jpg (138532 bytes)        1910 Expo RP.jpg (248848 bytes)
                                                                                                                                                                                  Music Hall on the left
                                                                                                                                                                                 Washington Park on right


Expo RP-Horz.jpg (260898 bytes)





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