The modern advancement and development that we are enjoying in present times have roots somewhere deeper in the culmination and development of world expos or trade fairs. The world expos helped in proliferating goods of common usage among the masses. The world expo just not reached this stage in a single day but instead is carrying a tale of exposition and marts along with them.   

The First ‘World Expo’ was organized on May 1, 1851, at Hyde Park in the Crystal Palace, London. Countries from all around the world participated to present their innovative inventions and craftsmanship. However, the seeds of exhibitions were shown way back in the past. When Persia held the world’s first exhibition in the 15th century and was in nature like a modern street market.

By the end of the 18th century, people developed the idea of exhibitions, similar to the mart, and started showcasing their products. The products were only showcased not sold. World Expo in the modern sense started in the mid-19th century during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. It was held many times after 1851.

The journey of the World Expo has evolved through four major stages.

Late and mid-19th century

(Showcase the achievement of the industrial revolution)

By the mid-19th century, the British Industrial Revolution had achieved the world’s surprising achievements after 100 years of development. In 1851 the British decided to organize the Great Exhibitions of the Works of Industry of all nations. It was a showcase of its skillfulness to the world,

Queen Victoria invited European and American nations to take part in the exhibition to flaunt the glory of her nation. Which organized last for 140 days. Many interesting activities were organized during the exhibition, such as an appraisal of exhibits, arts and crafts works, etc., but no trading took place.

This exhibition became the framework of further World Expo organized by different countries. The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations presented the achievements of the Industrial Revolution. Because of advanced industrial exhibits of various participating countries. The exhibition included items such as a 630-ton high-power steam engine, a locomotive, a high-speed steamship, a steam pressure engine, a crane, advanced steel-making techniques, as well as large bridge and tunnel models.

The London World Expo is the first modern World Expo because it represented a global shift from simple commodity exchange. It was to the exchange of new production technologies and new life concepts of innovations.

In 1853, the second World Trade Expo was held in the United States of America which showed its achievement to the world for the first time. After that exhibitions become the trend in the market. In 1855, Paris World Expo exhibited concrete, aluminum, and rubber products for the first time in the World’s history. In 1862, at London World Trade Expo, new industrial products, including textile machines, printing presses, and trains, were displayed.

And in 1862, Vienna World Expo gifted the world a new power unit (the electric motor). The World Expos during the 19th century, become a boon for modernization and witnessed the ‘age of invention’ largely presenting the latest achievements of the industrial sector during that period.

Early 20th Century

(Scientific and technological advancements and appeals for international peace)

In the first half of the 20th century, World Trade Expos were held on the basic concept of ‘technocentrism’. However, various transformations took place too. The World Trade Expo was started with technological innovations and industrialization moved a step forward and looked beyond technology. And begin to pay heed to human and cultural conditions. This is the reason why World Expo is equally important in today’s era too.

In 1900, Paris Universal Expo showcased the technical advancement of the West in the 19th century, such as moving sidewalks. As Industrial Revolution was the base during the 19th century, this expo reached heights among all the other World Expos.

However, this was marked as the turning point from which the World Expo faced a gradual decline. And in the first half of the 20th century, no such World Expo with such glory and grandeur was organized.

After the downfall, once again the World Expo successfully established its strong image. World Expo, held in 1915, in San Francisco, U.S.A. It was a significant moment for China as its advanced exhibits were highly praised by visitors from different countries. The theme of the exhibition was based on agriculture, industry, education, literature, arts, transportation, minerals, food, and horticulture, and the exhibits were displayed in 9 halls. China was the most esteemed participant of the show and the expo organizers specially designated September 23 as China Day. The exhibits from China got 1,211 awards, of which 57 were medallions, 74 honor awards, 258 gold medals, 337 silver medals, 258 bronze awards, and 227 encouragement awards. China holds the ‘Pride of Place’ among the 31 other participants and is ranked 1st.

At Philadelphia World Expo held in 1926, Japan and China were the most prominent country, besides the host country the United States.

In 1993, Chicago World Expo was held in the United States, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding day of the city. The expo took place when the American economy was recovering from the great depression of the 1930s. As each expo has a theme the theme of the Chicago World Expo was ‘A century progress.

At Brussels Expo, new technologies were displayed and this event was a ray of hope and peace for all participants, the theme of this expo was ‘Strive for Peace Through Competition.’  The last expo held before World War 2 was San Francisco World Expo, with the theme positive and optimistic theme: ‘The New World of Tomorrow.’ The new products exhibited at the expo included – nylon, audio recorders, plastic, and television sets.

  • Late 20th Century (Diversity of themes): In 1958, Brussels Expo was the first expo held after Worlds War 2. The aftermath of war spread suffering and grief, not only did people have to rebuild their homeland but they also had to rebuild their trust in progress. The logo of this expo represented a huge model of atomic structure, spreading the message of the safe and peaceful use of atomic energy. The theme of this Expo was Scientific Civilization and Humanism.

Japan was defeated in World War 2. It was focusing on economic development and country revival. In 1964, to boost and encourage the people of the nation Japan hosted Tokyo Olympic Games. In 1964 Japan Government decided to participate in the 1970 Osaka Expo. And in 1965, it was announced that it had been successful in its bid. A total of 76 countries and four international organizations participated in the Osaka Expo, with footfalls exceeding 634 million, the largest visitorship ever in the history of the World Expo. This expo promoted transportation facilities, high-grade housing, commercial and tourist infrastructure, as well as places for cultural exchange in Osaka.

After World War 2, countries on a global level raise public and government awareness of the threat. That human activities pose to the earth’s ecological system. Regarding this, the United States organized an international conference in Stockholm in 1972. It was the first meeting that included environmental issues.

Expos in the 1980 and 1990, the theme was ‘horticulture’ and the catchwords were ‘energy’ and ‘water resources.

In Brisbane, Australia an international expo held in 1998, we a creative and innovative theme of ‘The International Exposition on Leisure.’ The Chinese Government took the expo to another level through the ‘Kunming World Horticulture Expo’, held in 1991.

The latter half of the 20th century was the time when people were building their homelands and focusing on development all the expos put a positive impact on society, focusing on the word “nature,” albeit from different perspectives.  

Two great events in world history were held together in Spain in 1992. First was the Age of Great Navigation 500 years ago in commemoration of Columbus’s discovery of the New Continent of America. And the second was the 25th Olympic Games were held in Barcelona at the same time that the Expo was held. Due to these grand events, Spain becomes the center of world attraction.

The United Nations endorsed 1998 as the International Year of the Ocean. The Lisbon World Expo was held in Portugal, in 1998 the theme was ‘Oceans—A Heritage for the Future.’

21st Century

(Way towards progress and development)

During the early days of the 21st century, the major focus of the World Expos `was on economic progress. However, in recent years the focus on economic and technological progress has opened the doors to ‘Sustainable Development and many other concepts.

Latest Dubai World Expo (Connecting Minds, Creating Future)

Dubai Expo is another grand World Expo that will begin on October 20, 2020, and end on April 10, 2021. The event will last for 173 days with the theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating Future.’  A total of 190 countries will participate in the expo to showcase the pride of their nation. Visitors can experience world tours under a single roof.

The sub-theme of the expo is ‘Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability.’ The expo is going to glorify the amazing beauty of the world by displaying the blend of development, technology, innovation, culture, and much more.

This expo is going to show us the future to us in 173 days. Dubai Government is using 438 hectares of land to create a larger-than-life experience for their international guests.

Participants will witness something that going to create a new world history.

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