At the beginning of the year 1900, the idea of organizing a World Fair dedicated to water transportation, was launched. Subsequently, to celebrate completion of the Sempione Tunnel (the Simplon Tunnel), the idea of associating the Exposition with the theme of transportation in general, and extending it to participating countries, was launched. Although, initially, the Fair was scheduled to be held in 1905, delays in work on the Simplon Tunnel resulted in its being postponed to 1906.
A special committee set up for the purpose identified the green space lying behind Castello Sforzesco as the one best-suited to an exposition site. The area was named Parco Sempione (top photo) in honour of the Tunnel and a public appeal was launched to raise the necessary funds.
The International Exposition of Milan was solemnly inaugurated on 28 May 1906. The event saw the official participation of 40 countries while 225 buildings, designed by the era’s most noteworthy architects, were erected at what we know today as Parco Sempione and the former Piazza d’Armi (which, starting from 1923, was used to host Milan’s fairgrounds) and the two areas were connected by an ultra-modern aerial railway.
In April of the same year, the Acquario Civico di Milano which still, today, represents one of the maximum expression of Italian Liberty-style architecture, was inaugurated inside the grounds of the International Exposition. Exhibitors, hailing from all over the world, numbered as many as 35,000 and the overall surface area occupied by Expo totalled one million square metres. Additionally, the Milan World Fair was attended by some five and a half million people.
It was an epoch-making event that not only re-launched the potential of the Country but also one that enabled Milan to carve out a position of note for itself on the international scene.
A year to go to the beginning of Expo Milano 2015, the universal exposition that, from 1 May to 31 October 2015, will make Milan the world capital of subjects linked to nutrition. “Feeding the planet. Energy for life” is, in fact, the theme chosen for the event which, according to tradition, will be enhanced by myriad initiatives.
>> Read more: curiosities on Milan Expo 1906
The beginning of 2014, the year prior to the event, has already seen a significant increase of Expo’s visibility in the city: here are some vistas that the Milanese and tourists alike are getting accustomed to seeing: