- World's Fair of 1910
- The idea for a world's fair to follow those of 1888 and 1897 was first broached at the closing banquet of the latter when sentiment was expressed for a fair to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Belgian independence. An exposition was held that year (1905) in Liège followed by that of Brussels in 1910.The Exposition universelle et internationale of 1910 confirmed Brussels role as a major host city of international expositions. Located southeast of the city on a site situated southwest of the Solbosch Park and northwest of the Bois de la Cambre, the exhibition was built at a cost of 18 million Belgian francs, of which some sums were raised by a national lottery. The fair was linked to Brussels by a tramline, whose construction promoted the subsequent development of neighboring districts. A series of narrow gauge tramways serviced the interior of the fairgrounds.The exhibition opened on 23 April and featured attendance by King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth, who arrived in a gala coach escorted by squadrons of the civic guard. Twenty-one nations participated.The city of Brussels furnished exhibits featuring pictorial works of art and models of urban development plans. The neobaroque architectural style dominated in the design of the pavilions. A vast machine hall exceeded the total floor space in use at the Paris exhibitions of 1889 and 1900. Exhibits were not arranged in the traditional manner by broad categories (raw materials, machinery), but rather by functional groups, which totaled 22 and included education, electricity, engineering, agriculture, mining, textiles, women's labor, and the armed forces. For the first time at a Belgian fair, a salon of letters featured manuscripts and books by Dutch- and French-language authors.Distinguished visitors included ex-U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt, Prince Albert of Monaco, and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.On 14 August, after most of the visitors had left, a fire broke out near the central gallery and spread rapidly to British exhibits, the city of Paris pavilion, a French restaurant, the executive committee offices, the race track, wild animal enclosures, and the Brussels kermesse, a reproduction of an old city district. The flames were extinguished after several hours and there were no fatalities. The fire did raise public awareness of the fair. It also revealed the inefficiency of the fire services in the metropolitan area. Efforts to put out the blaze were hampered by the lack of standardized equipment employed by the fire departments of the several different communes that contributed to the fire-fighting effort (see FIREMEN).The exhibition closed on 8 November having drawn 13 million visitors, including approximately 1 million foreigners.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.