In 1909, Valencia inaugurated its Regional Expo. “Regional” doesn’t sound like that big of a deal — larger cities like Paris and San Francisco were celebrating World Expos — but it had a huge and lasting impact on the city.
The exposition took place north of the city walls, just across the Paseo Alameda. In 1909, the Turia river was still flowing strong, and the land north of it hadn’t really been fully developed. The Exposition, though, changed that — a large number of buildings were specially constructed, including even a gondola which brought visitors over the river.
A huge undertaking, the Expo lasted for over a year. It welcomed important guests like Blasco Ibáñez and saw the inauguration of the Valencian Hymn. A huge success popularly (if not financially), it would eventually earn status as a national exposition.
The Spain of 1909 was an unhappy, humiliated country — it had lost nearly all its overseas possessions and was losing a nasty war in Morocco. The Regional Expo, with its focus on the future, helped the citizens take their minds of their troubles for a little while.
Until the 30th of August, you can be transported 100 years backwards in time, by visiting an interesting exhibit at the Palace of the Exposition (location). Entrance is free, and you really come away with a good sense of the times.
The following pictures are from the concurrent expo exhibits in the Palacio and the The Ateneo Mercantil building: