RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL 1922-23
Independence Centenary International Exposition
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Quick List Info
Dates Open - September 7, 1922 to July 24, 1923 (Official Close).
Attendance - 3,626,402 paid attendance.
International Participants - 16 nations and colonies.
Total Cost - $20 million.
Site Acreage - 62 acres.
Sanction and Type - Prior to sanctioning by the Bureau of International Exhibitions. Would be considered a Special category Registered event today like those on the 5 years of the decade.
Ticket Cost - Unknown.
Photo top center: View of Pavilions for Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo, 1922. Courtesy Pinterest. Column Top: Poster of the Exhibition, 1922, likely Fair Authority. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Bottom: Independence Centenary International Exposition 1922-3. Courtesy Pinterest.
It was held to commemorate the 100th year of Brazil's declaration of independence from its colonial power Portugal on a site which peered over Guanabara Bay to Niterol. Foreign nations participated, including Portugal, the United States, Argentina, Japan, France, and Great Britain, as well as all states of Brazil. The 1922 event was the first international world's fair in South America. Rio de Janeiro had hosted a national exposition in 1908, and even in more modern times, South American fairs have been few and far between. In 2023, Buenos Aires will host a special Bureau of International Exposition.
The site was divided into national and foreign sections. Many of the pavilions opened late, including the United States, which finally became finished and officially opened on December 24. Colonel D.C. Collier was appointed by President Harding to be the U.S. Representative to the Brazil Centennial. Exhibits from the United States were in both the Embassy Building and American Industries Exhibits Building. There was a Palace of Industries, Palace of Hunting and Fishing, and a Pavilion of Brazilian States, which wsa the largest at the fair with over six thousand exhibitors. Other exposition buildings included the Administration Building, Food Pavilion, Statistics Pavilion, Festivity Pavilion, Agriculture and Road Pavilion, Small Industries Pavilion, Large Industries Pavilion, Antarctica Beer Pavilion, Jewelry Pavilion, and Portugal's Honor Pavilion.
Nations participated for a variety of reasons. Belgium came due to its economic ties to Brazil. Foreign dignitaries visited, including the President of Portugal, and the President of Brazil opened the event, signifying its importance. For the foreign participants, international congresses were held.
Above photo. View of the Exhibition, 1922. Courtesy Pinterest. Middle: Polar Bear and building from the Rio de Janeiro World's Fair, 1922. Courtesy Pinterest. Bottom: Another photo from the exhibition, 1922. Courtesy Pinterest.
How did the fair do? Attendance rose to well over three million, but was overshadowed in some ways by the financial crises that brewed in early 1923. Despite that, reports from the New York Times lauded the city as the world's cleanest and noted that it was at its best as host to the exposition.
Carlos Kessel - "The government wanted to show that on Brazil's commemoration of the first century of independence from Portugal, the country could be counted as one of the civilized nations. There was a lot of pride, but also negative criticism regarding the delays - many pavilions were not finished. I think there were not significant innovations. The theme - the independence anniversary - was related to the country. There was only a big fair before - an exposition in 1908 - and the first big hotels were being finished for the fair. There was a special budget, a large amount at the time, that the mayor got from the congress, and that made things easier to organize the fair and build the pavilions."
Sources: The Great Exhibitions; New York Times; London Times; Fair News; Historical Dictionary of World's Fairs; Les Expositions Universelle en Belgique; History of Fairs and Expositions; History of Centennials, Fairs and Expositions; "Colonel D.C. Collier: An Inspiration to the Citizens of Today" by Richard Amero; A Exposicao de 1922, Official Organizing Committee, research done by Carlos Kessel, Museu da Republica.
Prior to BIE
International Participants Nations and Colonies
Argentina, United States, Japan, France, Great Britain, Italy, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Belgium, Sweden, Portugal, Chile, Mexico, Switzerland, Brazil. Also noted that there was a Scandinavian Pavilion, which may have included some of the above.
Note: It is sometimes difficult to tell whether certain nations or colonies actually participated in a significant way, especially in joint pavilions. Newspaper reports as well as the official guidebook may indicate participation when actual participation did not occur, or occurred minimally. Take the above as a guide, not gospel. List above from a variety of sources.
French pavilion was a replica of the Petit Trianon of Versailles. A sum of L102,720 was voted by the French Chamber for France's participation at the Rio exhibition.
The London Times reported on February 22, 1922, that nations were bringing military vessels to the fair; the United States with 3 ships, Japan with three, Argentina, Chile, and Portugal all bringing one. At the time, no British ships were going.
The New York Times reported that Rio de Janeiro had new hotels for the exposition. The Hotel Gloria had 300 rooms, Atlantica 600 rooms, and Sete de Setembro Hotel 250 rooms. It cost $4 per day for living expenses at hotels.
The United States pavilion reported receiving twenty thousand visitors per day by March of 1923. The 83rd Co. of the 6th Marines paraded during the opening ceremony, fielded a baseball team, and brought along the regimental band.
After the fair the United States pavilion was transformed into the new U.S. embassy. The Pavilion of France was donated to the Brazilian Academy of Letters. It remains today. The Palace of Industry became the National Historic Museum. The Palace of Hunting and Fishing became the Captainship of Ports. The Pavilion of States became the Image and Sound Museum.
Those in Charge
Epitacio Lindolfo da Silva Pessoa was President of Brazil at the beginning of the exposition, leaving office in November 1922, and supported the creation of the exposition.
Photo column top: Commemorative Stamp from the Brazil World's Fair, 1922, Correio - Printed by Pimenta de Mello and Cia, Rio. Courtesy Pinterest. Bottom: The Avenue of Nations, 1922, original source unknown. Courtesy Pinterest.
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