Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New Orleans 1885: Exhibits in Horticultural Hall.....

Soon recognized by visitors as being a popular attraction at the New Orleans exposition, Horticultural Hall was filled with hundreds of horticultural and agricultural displays. Extensive exhibits of fruit from nearly every state and territory of the United States, and from many foreign countries, filled the main aisle of the building for a total length of 500 feet. Apples, pears, peaches, apricots, plums, persimmons, dates, oranges, lemons, limes, pineapples, strawberries, and many other types of fruits were displayed. Among the numerous state displays, Arkansas displayed apples; California showed oranges; and Florida exhibited many varieties of tropical fruits. Several foreign nations, including England, France, Russia, and British Honduras, sent exhibits of fruit and agricultural products. Vast numbers of living trees and plants were also displayed by various countries, in conservatories located around the perimeter of the building's interior. In addition to numerous palms, ferns, flowers, and shrubs; banana, orange, lemon, coconut, coffee, ginger, cinnamon, clove, vanilla, and other varieties of fruit producing trees and plants were shown. One of the major attractions in Horticultural Hall was Mexico's extensive exhibit of cactus, of which hundreds of varieties were shown. Critics were so impressed by the cacti on display that many deemed this exhibit alone well worth a visit to the exposition. In the hot-house section of the building were displayed over 100 varieties of air-plants from South America, in addition to many other tropical and aquatic plants; including Venezuela's introduction of the water hyacinth to the United States. Unfortunately, the visually attractive water hyacinth soon became the blight of the Gulf States, as the voracious plant rapidly multiplied over the years and clogged thousands of navigable waterways.

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