The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce is a private, independent organization founded in 1866 by local business leaders. Originally known as the Atlanta Board of Grade, the organization sought to lower freight rates for the region and to promote direct trade with European nations without having to ship to Northern ports. In 1893, the Chamber organized the Cotton States and International Exposition, which was held two years later at Piedmont Park. Alongside the Retail Merchants Association, the Chamber created the Southeastern Fair Association, which organized fairs from 1916 until 1933. In 1908, the Chamber raised $1.5 million dollars for sewage disposal, water works, and the creation of Grady Hospital, a crematory, and new public schools. In an effort to improve transportation, the Chamber raised money to construct the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) in 1975,.