The purpose of the exhibition was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French revolution and at the same time to celebrate the right to work.
However, to appease the European monarchies, the World's Fair was presented as having no connection with the revolution.
The construction was started with great delay and it was only in March 1887 that the states were invited; but this late date did not allow the great nations to participate, except for the United States. However, even if the nations did not participate, their companies came in large numbers.
The success of this exhibition was mainly due to the two works of art which were: the Eiffel Tower and the gallery of machines.
For their time, these two structures were technically advanced and impressive in their size: the Eiffel Tower by its height and the Galerie des Machines by its surface area; moreover, both structures were made of iron, which was not a common material at the time.
Numerous shows, fireworks and illuminations also contributed to this success.
The total surface area of the exhibition was 116 hectares, spread over the Champ de Mars, the banks of the Seine, the Trocadero and the Parvis des Invalides.
The state and the city of Paris paid 25 million francs to finance the 46.5 million francs needed to hold the exhibition, while the rest of the ticket price, the income from concessions (Eiffel Tower, etc.) and the sale of materials from the demolition of the buildings made it possible to fill the gap and even to make 8 million francs in profits.