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.
Thank you, Sheri, for sharing all of these memories. There is nothing better than first hand accounts and memories of Expo. Your stories certainly explain why you "became so much more" while serving as a guide.
There was no such thing as heating or cooling above ground. Obviously, below in the dressing rooms, PR lounge, and so forth, we were comfortable. I was devastated when of the fire. When I returned to Montreal, I was staying in Sherbrooke at a mandolin convention, and in the morning, I opened the curtains...and was shocked when I saw the dome in tact. I was sure I would see nothing. What a pleasant surprise when I took the first metro to the dome and found it as I remember it sans exhibits. It did feel completely different. I went up the stairs or took the elevator as I recall. Standing on the lunar platform was weird! That was off-limits whereas all the other exhibits were open to us and I would always go to the Hollywood floor and play on a golden, very out of tune piano. I usually played something from the era. 1920s style. It was so rinky-dink but I played everything I could remember and would spend an evening, after visitors and guides were gone. It was OK with security. My best memories were just meeting people while they cued in line--from all over the world. Chatting them up! keeping them happy with 3-4 hours waiting to get it. We were the most popular pavilion by far! We never had a short line except 20 minutes before we would close.
As to what I recall the most, well, every day there was some dignitary, president of some African country, or the Shah of Iran and his wife, movie stars every day. I'd have to look at my autograph book but celebs would come in all the time. Certainly, being 2 ft. from Pres Johnson at the height of his popularity before the end of 67 changed everything. Lady Bird was like a human parrot in her emerald green coat and hawkish nose! Cary Grant came and denied ever saying "Judy, Judy, Judy!" He was lots of fun. Of course, I consider meeting Ralph Bunche and being his guide as one of the most cherished memories I still carry. (see above)
The special U.S. day had every jazz, blues, classical musician on one stage--all day long! The talent was unbelievable! And being a guide, I meet just about everyone there. One of the other pleasures was being able to wear my uniform, and have all the doors opened to me. I never once stood in a line to see any exhibit. I would just walk up, smile, and the reciprocity took place. It was the same for allowing guides to visit U.S. Pavilion. Guides had very, very little time to wait in line. We all worked long, long hours and would go home exhausted. At least I did. My roommates partied but weren't bad. Let's see one roommate was a daughter of the Illinois Gov., others were related to senators or someone in Congress. I found out that quite a few got their jobs because of 'their daddy.' Why, there were siblings who talked about "Lestah" (Lester)! Why Lestah' said this blah blah blah! They were talking about GA's racist governor Lester Maddox. That's how they got their jobs! They knew Lestah! ;-) Neither guide could speak French so it wasn't from qualifying for the position, rather it was who they knew. That was true for others. Well, before I get into trouble...and one of my former roommates reads what I wrote, I better stop for now! ;-)
Great information, Roger. Thank you. I had not given much thought to the heating and cooling. I think Sheri stated the pavilion could get quite warm and uncomfortable during summer days in 1967 so there must not have been any cooling at all. I was there in 1976, for the Olympics, and I remember Ile Ste. Helene was a busy place but that is a quiet scene. I saw the Dome from a distance and it was scorched as this photo verifies. We were able to ride the Mini Rail across the channel and through the Expo remains on Ile Notre Dame. It' amazing how small the trees are in this photograph. In any event, I am glad the pavilion is still there and in use. I remember a visit to the Biosphere and looking at the openings where the Mini Rail passed through and reading the information explaining how the structure was built. And it is always a wonderful sight and symbolic of Montreal's great summer fifty years ago.
Unfortunately, the Bubble had a lot of design flaws – one the main problem was, as you said Jim, water. Heat had an effect on the structure and it moved ever so slightly but enough to cause water problem when there was hard rain. But a 4/5 sphere represents a lot of air – air that needs to be heated and cooled and there is the main reason why they decided not to rebuild the cover in 1992 when they were planning the renovation.
The plastic covering was not a problem – a few years after the fire, Shoji Sadao, the architect of the US pavilion (and not Buckminster Fuller!) had found new plastics that were basically fireproof. And the cost of re-covering the structure again was not a real issue – it was the extremely high cost of heating and cooling the building that made the architect that did the renovation go another way. But to be fair, the building is still wonderful and respectful of Fuller since the sphere itself is still there. They also repaired and kept all the platforms so if you saw it before the fire, you still get the basic feeling of how it felt to be inside it but without the huge escalator though
Here's the pavilion, a few months after the fire in 1976