It was held during the year of the 100th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, an event considered symbolic of the beginning of the French Revolution.
The fair included a reconstruction of the Bastille and its surrounding neighborhood, but with the interior courtyard covered with a blue ceiling decorated with fleur-de-lys and used as a ball room and gathering place.
The 1889 Exposition covered a total area of 0.96 km2, including the Champ de Mars, the Trocadéro, the quai d’Orsay, a part of the Seine and the Invalides esplanade.
Transport around the Exposition was partly provided by a 3 kilometre (1.9 mi) 600 millimetre (2 ft 0 in) gauge railway by Decauville.
It was claimed that the railway carried 6,342,446 visitors in just six months of operation.
Some of the locomotives used on this line later saw service on the Chemins de Fer du Calvados.