In 1492 Christopher Columbus explored the Western Hemisphere and reported back to Spain, who had paid for the expedition. This event sparked of hundreds of years of exploration, lead to the creation of the United States, and overall changed the world. in 1992, on the 500th anniversary of the event, the largest city in the world named after the explorer decided to hold a party.
AmeriaFlora ’92 was not just another city festival. It was a 6 month extravaganza that changed the city, created a landmark greenhouse in an old park, and spanned an area larger than Disneyland. The event was the first international floral exposition in the United States.
The event’s aim was flowers. Flowers were everywhere. Flowers were everything. One of the reasons Franklin Park was chosen was the Glass House conservatory that was already there. The building was based on the 1893 Chicago’s World Fair and Columbian Exposition Glass Palace. Finished in 1895, it was nearly 100 years old when the city decided to make it the center of the Expo. The Victorian Glass house was added on to and became the conservatory it is today.
Surrounding the new building were gardens. Tons (literal) of flowers were planted. 14,000 pounds worth were planted on the lawn of the Statehouse just to promote the event. The variety of flora helped to keep the number from overwhelming. One area was even dedicated to backyard gardens, including displays on recycling and environmentally friendly gardening. Many other gardens were themed to many different ideas, such as a European Garden Maze. One garden was even full of topiaries by Disney. The only other time they had done topiaries outside of the parks was at the 1964 worlds fair.
It was an international event and made sure to include the world. One of the big attractions was a the community of gardens representing the Nations of the world. Each garden was a small plot with building. Inside the buildings were cultural displays, such as tea ceremonies or palace recreations, and shops.
The Expo was more than just plants. The Smithsonian had the “Seeds of Change” interactive exhibit. GM brought the 70mm film “World Song.” There was a full days worth of entertainment through out the venue. The large “America’s Showcase” stage had something going on all the time. The event promised over 50,000 entertainers over its 6 month run.
While the event was meant to be a massive influx for the city of Columbus, it was over-hyped and not the only event of its type that year. Over all it only received 1/2 the visitors it expected. Whether it was a financial success or not it did have a major impact on the city. Over 25 years later it may be gone but Ameriaflora ’92 is still remembered.