The Southern Exposition, held in Louisville from 1883-1887, was driven by the city’s need to succeed in a competitive national economy. The Exposition provided Louisville with the opportunity to showcase its manufacturing capabilities and strengthen business relationships with both the North and the South. The Exposition opened in 1883 on the city’s southern outskirts—today’s Central Park, and St. James and Belgravia Courts. The Exposition’s main building—perhaps the largest wooden building ever erected in the United States—covered thirteen acres. Much of the main building was devoted to machinery exhibits, where products ranging from barbed wire to silk fabric were created. The Exposition’s agricultural department presented a working farm and horticultural garden, featuring crops of tobacco, corn, hemp, flax, peanuts, and castor oil plants, as well as a vast field of cotton growing to the south of the main building. An art gallery housed an exhibition of masterpieces by artists from around the world; visitors also enjoyed floral displays, concerts, theatrical performances, and a weekly fireworks show. One of the main attractions of Louisville’s Exposition was its ability to remain open at night. It was lit by 4,600 lamps, the largest display yet of Thomas Edison’s recently invented incandescent lights. Although originally planned to operate for only one season, the great popularity of the Southern Exposition resulted in its continuation until 1887.