In 1851, London hosted a Great Exhibition to promote British consumer goods, showcase wonders from around the world and feature technological advancements on the horizon. Since then, many cities have put on elaborate expos to varying degrees of success. Some were financial disasters, while others left ongoing legacies we still enjoy today. Many of these extravaganzas were the launching pads of innovative new products and architectural feats we can’t imagine a world without. Here are 13 things to thank world fairs for.
1. The Eiffel Tower
Perhaps the most famous leftover from a world fair is the gateway arch to the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. Believe it or not, this controversial structure was considered an eyesore at the time. The artistic elite actually petitioned the erection of this “useless”, “monstrous”, “barbaric” tower, calling it a “hateful column of bolted sheet metal.” Gustave Eiffel had a 20 year permit for his creation, and it was supposed to be dismantled in 1909. However, it still stands tall and proud today and has become the iconic symbol of Paris.