The location was along the Western & Atlantic Railroad tracks near the present day King Plow development. Planned to show the progress made since the city's destruction during the Battle of Atlanta and new developments in cotton production.
Placed a short train ride from downtown, it was designed so that the largest building could later be used as a cotton mill. A quarter of a million people attended generating between $220,000 and $250,000 in receipts split evenly between sales and gate receipts.
Early that December, James W. Nagle and J. W. Ryckman came to Atlanta to ascertain what action the citizens proposed to take in the matter. At their suggestion several preliminary meetings were held. A committee consisting of Governor A.H. Colquitt, Mayor W.L. Calhoun, ex-Governor R.B. Bullock and J.W. Ryckman was appointed to prepare a plan for preliminary organization, which resulted in the formation of such an organization and the election of Senator Joseph E. Brown, president; S.M. Inman, treasurer and Ryckman, secretary.
At first it was only contemplated that the exposition should be confined to cotton and all pertaining thereto, in its culture, transportation, manufacture, etc. The capital stock of the corporation was originally fixed at $100,000 in shares of $100. As the work advanced, however, and as the country became interested in the subject, it was decided to open its doors for the admission of all products from every section, and the capital stock was therefore to $200,000. H.I Kimball was elected chairman of the 25 member executive committee whose mission was to raise the money.
It was believed if Atlanta subscribed one-third the amount required, other cities interested in the succedss of the enterprise would contribute the balance. A canvass of the city was made, and in one day the amount proportioned to Atlanta was secured. Mr. Kimball was authorized to visit Northern cities and endeavor to interest them in the undertaking. He visited New York and secured subscriptions to two hundred and fifty-three shares of stock ($25,300); Boston took sixty shares; Baltimore, forty-eight; Norfolk, VA buying twenty-five; Philadelphia, forty-three; Cincinnati, seventy-nine. The gratifying result of Mr. Kimball's work in the North and the apparent interest manifested by the whole country caused the executive committee to take immediate steps to put the whole work of organizing and conducting the enterprise in hand. Kimball was named director-general and CEO.
Oglethorpe Park was selected as the site of the exposition. It belonged to the city and was located two and one half miles northwest from the railroad depot, and on the line of the Western & Atlantic Railroad. This park was originally laid out and improved under the direction of Mr. Kimball, in 1870 for the use of agricultural fairs, but the work of adapting the grounds and erecting the necessary buildings for the exposition was not an easy task. The work was begun under Mr. Kimball's direction and rapidly pushed to completion and made ready in ample time for the opening of the exposition.
The main building was constructed after a general model of a cotton factory, as suggested by Mr. Atkinson, the form being a Greek cross, the transept nearly half the length, the agricultural and carriage annexes extending along the southern side, and the mineral and woods department forming an annex at the extreme western end of the building. Its extreme length was seven hundred and twenty feet, the length of the transpt four hundred feet, and the width of the arms ninety-six feet. The dimensions of the remaining principal buildings were as follows:
There were several other buildings, as the Florida building, press pavilion, police headquarters, etc, and quite a number of individuals or collective exhibitors erected buildings for themselves.
The exposition was a success in every way. The entire number of exhibits was 1,113 of which the Southern States contributed more than half; New England and Middle States, 341; Western States, 138; foreign, 7. The gross receipts were $262,513, and the total disbursements $258,475. The average daily attendance was 3,816 for the seventy-six days it was open. The largest number of admissions on any one day occurred on December 7th, Planters' Day, when there were 10,293.
This article incorporates text from the public domain 1902 book, Atlanta And Its Builders by Thomas H. Martin