The exhibition was a World's Fair that was located in what is now Bryant Park. It was based on the Great Exhibition in London, UK of 1851, which was a wild success. The Exhibition even had its own version of the fabled Crystal Palace, the New York Crystal Palace (above left), which like it's London inspiration (above right) was eventually destroyed by fire.
The exhibition is also where Elisha Otis demonstrated his safety equipped elevator, with the "safety" stopping the car from falling should the hoist rope break.
The exhibition had in excess of 1.1 million visitors during its duration. The exhibition closed on November 14, 1854.