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.
The idea of a Belgian Village was not new to the NYWF. The 1965 Guide does not state who sponsored it--at least not in the description on page 130.
However, there was Belgian Village in Chicago in 1933-34 sponsored by the Burnham Brothers (a Chicago architectural firm) with Alfons deRydt (also spelled deRidt). Daniel Burnham, incidentally, was the master planner of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.
That second name, deRydt, was a sponsor of the 1964 Belgian Village. He also designed an exhibit known as "Belgique Joyeuse" at the Brussels' World's Fair. The NYWF Corporation pursued him starting in 1961 to see if he would build a village for the NY fair. His motivation, it appears, was purely financial. He wanted to make money and there's nothing wrong with that. But considering the cost of construction, the delayed opening and the feeble entry fee of one buck, it's hard to see how he did. Everything inside the village cost something (food, drinks, souvenirs etc.) but it was also staffed by waiters, guides in full costumes, vendors etc. They had to be paid.
In 1964, he was "president and architect" of Beautiful Belgium, Inc. He broke ground for the exhibit on April 11, 1963 with Robert Moses and a host of others and full press coverage.
That press coverage was put into a pamphlet entitled "Beautiful Belgian Village, April 11, 1963." It is on-line.
The Belgian Village certainly had a good deal of world's fair pedigree when many of us saw it in NY. Its direct link goes all the way back to Chicago in 1893 when you think about it. Pretty cool.
I was. Well, except for the lunch my family had one day at this restaurant that had "radar range" ovens--the first microwaves I had ever seen. I can still remember that the food didn't taste quite right and my dad, who was a surgeon, wondered aloud if the stuff was safe to eat.
They were huge in size (in 1964 terms) and covered with strawberries and whipped cream. Something new, different and decadent. Everybody had to try one.
Kind of like when Burger King Whoppers were actually whopping big (5 or 6 inches across). Those have been super-downsized over the last 40 years.
We forget how much we've seen in the last 50 years on television and in the movies and on the web. This show must have been spectacular to eyes that were used to seeing b&w entertainment. Then again, I guess we were all bedazzled by most everything at the fair, weren't we!