Staged to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal, and drawing over 19 million visitors in only nine months, the Pan-Pacific International Expo rose like a literal jewel from the ashes of San Francisco's 1906 Earthquake and Fire.
A Century of Progress International Exposition was held in Chicago, Illinois from 1933 to 1934 to celebrate the city's centennial. The theme of the fair was technological innovation. Its motto was "Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms".
The 1939-40 New York World's Fair, located on the current site of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, was one of the largest world's fairs of all time. The fair ran for two seasons and over 44 million people attended.
The Golden Gate International Exposition was held in San Francisco, California to celebrate the opening of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge. The exposition's first season ran from February 18, 1939 through October 29, 1939 and its second season was from May 25, 1940 through September 29, 1940.
The 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair, located on the current site of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The fair ran for two seasons and took place without sanctioning from the Bureau of International Expositions.
Expo 67 was held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada from April 27 to October 29, 1967. It was considered to be the most successful World's Fair of the 20th century, with over 50 million visitors and 62 nations participating.
I'm not so sure the possibility that this photograph was snapped on a weekday explains the lack of people. Each season averaged 25 million visitors. That's 180 days and averages to about 138,000 per day. Of course, that number didn't appear every day, but 50 to 60,000 was a fairly typical day with larger numbers on weekends, probably, and holidays. The Fair sold itself as a vacation destination, a once-in-a-lifetime event. Hundreds of thousands must have filled NYC hotel rooms, including weekdays, to visit the place. I'd like a nickel for the number of people who have posted here who said that they cut school to see the Fair, or visited with school groups. Either way, they got there no matter what and regardless of the day of the week.
We all know that the Fair just didn't live up to its own hype. Expecting 70 million, just over 50 million visited with about three million finally deciding to show up in the final two weeks. That's still a lot of visitors. But compare a photo like this to a typical any day of the week Expo 67 photo.
No clue why this looks like a pre-opening post card shot. You could fit the number of visible souls in this photo into a telephone booth. It helps to explain why attendance fell so short of predictions but it doesn't explain why more people didn't check out the place for themselves. It's a very inviting scene. What's not to like about the Fair? Where were all this expected visitors? We'll never know. I know I would have been there more often than two days if it had been possible for me to do so. But I was 13 and lived 250 miles away.
I first found reference to Italia 61 in a text book I use in my European History course. It quite surprised me. It was an actual event and rather successful. It's also noteworthy that this fair produced the beautiful facility which was later used for figure skating and short track at the 2006 Torino Olympic Winter Games (The Palavela). The wiki link also provides a link to another website that contains photographs of the still existing monorail tracks and stops which linked the grounds in 1961.
The BIE website does contain photos and information about Expo 61. Nineteen nations, including the USA, participated. There were five million visitors. Disney even presented a 1000 seat Fiat Circarama which showed a film highlighting sights and landmarks throughout Italy. This must be the first time this technology was presented--or very close to the first time.
Missing your sign or a gondola? Have no fear.