Oklahoma City World's Fair

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When I 1st moved to Oklahoma in 1984 many locals talked of how Oklahoma was trying/had tried for a Worlds Fair.

Anyone know anything about this?

Oklahoma City could really have benefitted from this in the 80s/90s by having a fair revitalize what has now grown into the m.a.p.s. project and canal revitalizing much of downtown OKC and the river.

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Posted · Report post

I was still living there myself in 1984, but don't remember hearing anything about it. Sure would be interesting to find some archival info on, though!

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Posted · Report post

Hows this for starters? And I have found lots more! Don't have time to post it all.

OKC definately had a proposal for a 1989 World's Fair!!

post-157-127700119599_thumb.jpg

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guess no ones interested :unsure:

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At best I suspect Oklahoma City could attract attendance similar to The Texas Centennial / Pan America Expo in 1936-37, or San Antonio's Hemisfair in 1968.

So it would be best to pursue a regional expo, or a narrow-theme international expo, and not a full-blown major one like Shanghai.

Similarly, just because Oklahoma City has an NBA team now, it doesn't mean they're ready to bid for the Summer Olympics.

But I hope interest remains... sometimes good things come with baby steps and a lot of patience.

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Interesting information and thank you for posting. It is noteworthy that the commentary passage states that a 1989 world's fair seemed to be a "sure thing." Perhaps the facts of the New Orleans fiasco were not common knowledge when that commentary was written. But there must have been some awareness of the finacial losses in Knoxville. I don't quite get it. I really did not understand Knoxville's fair either. There have been small fairs, to be sure, but many were in fair more cosmopolitan locations including Seattle, New Orleans and San Antonio. Even Spokane had appeal, I suppose, because of the spectacular beauty of the Pacific Northwest. I guess I don't include Oklahoma City in that category of host cities. The fact that a city has a unique and inviting charm certainly does not guarantee success for an exposition but I suspect that it helps.

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I thought of that too.

Successful attendance levels often require a host city to be a recognized tourist destination. So a trip to New York could also take in the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and so on.

If Oklahoma City is a legitimate tourist destination, they've certainly kept it an Oklahoma state secret. Not to offend anybody of course- I'm sure it's a nice town with friendly people.

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Making fun of ole lil OKC are we? Knoxville was touted as the scruffy little city that hosted a World's Fair, well...OKC would have been the scruffier (scruffiest even)city to host a World's Fair.

I think they really could have (and still could) pull it off. It is centralized in the nation, easy to get to from all directions. If the fair was designed and marketed right, I think it could be rather successful.

The Fair was the Largest proposal ever done in Oklahoma history (as of 1994, and may still be.) It was over 890 pages long, in many volumes and the fair was set to go. Oklahoma City decided to pull the plug on it's own when the oil boom crashed and seen the reciepts for the '84 fair and then the exposed controversay that Knoxville suffered after it's fair had ended.

Just imagine, the 64/65 New York World's Fair luminaires could have been in ANOTHER world's fair being it was going to be in the Oklahoma City State Fair Park. B)

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Interesting. I guess I did view Knoxville as scruffy. I remember wondering, at the time, why and how Knoxville could host an actual world's fair. My experience with world's fairs was with NYC and Montreal. Both fairs were gigantic and stunning and on both trips, we spent a considerable amount of time in each respective city and both offered unlimited opportunities for amazement and entertainment. I could not determine what else could be found in Knoxville, what else would attract people to that city or that region. I suppose when I read the Oklahoma City idea I had the same thought. Unfortunately, when I think of that city, I think of the tragedy with the federal office building which, of course, happened after the date of the proposed fair. On the other hand, tragedies have often sparked the idea of an exposition. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake's damage and the subsequent rebuilding of that city resulted in the 1915 exposition. Chicago's growth following the great fire was a part of that city's impetus for its 1893 expostion. While I still see those places as far more appealing in a geographic sense and in cosmopolitan tone, I suspect any city has the right to redefine itself with a major event like a fair.

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I view efforts like Knoxville, and perhaps even New Orleans or Spokane, as the smaller "Class 2" or "Class 3" international expos. They were really no bigger than the regional expos like the "Cotton States & International Exposition" in Atlanta in 1895, which was intended to promote the region's products and open new markets for those products internationally, with particular targeting of Latin American countries.

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Just imagine, the 64/65 New York World's Fair luminaires could have been in ANOTHER world's fair being it was going to be in the Oklahoma City State Fair Park.

Does anyone know if the luminaires still used those unusual flat fluorescent panels when first installed in OKC or the other places they went to? Of course, they were replaced eventually as the flat ones were no longer produced.

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Only a guess, but my bet is they installed them as is and used them that way until they ran out of any spare parts they got in the deal. Why soend $ changing them until they needed to, plus GE was probably still thinking of selling those bulbs/panels at that time.

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Are the lights from 64-65 still at the OKC fairgrounds? Looks like they've done a lot of "improvements" lately...

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Sadly, I believe they're now gone.

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I thought of that too.

Successful attendance levels often require a host city to be a recognized tourist destination. So a trip to New York could also take in the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and so on.

Does anyone have opinions about how that augors for Yeosu?

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Does anyone have opinions about how that augors for Yeosu?

Thumbrules for America might not apply in Asia. (the stories about the Chinese bussing in mandatory attendance crowds last year in Shanghai).

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Thumbrules for America might not apply in Asia. (the stories about the Chinese bussing in mandatory attendance crowds last year in Shanghai).

I certainly believe it., and although I haven't seen reports, I think that there was addiitonal pressure to get 10 million on 1 day. (Which was horrible horrible day)

And often a lot of unhappy looking people around the place.

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post-157-0-01880600-1312349584_thumb.jpg

Are the lights from 64-65 still at the OKC fairgrounds? Looks like they've done a lot of "improvements" lately...

Not a one left at the Oklahpoma City Fair Grounds. I sure miss them. The fair was so colorful at night with those lit.

I added a couple pictures from when I went last at night and they were all in place.

And remember this is the exact location also where the Oklahoma World's Fair was to be held. So, we are still on topic! :)

Pictures were 2003, just before they started removing them.

post-157-0-12505900-1312349566_thumb.jpg

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Hey RocketThrower...

So glad this great old topic got revived. I think I may have posted a few of these pix a long time ago-- but suspect most of them were lost between PTU board shuffles. At any rate, in the Autumn of 2007, I was in Oklahoma City and decided to pop by the State Fairgrounds just to snap a few photos. On the day I arrived, the whole place was deserted-- somewhere between somber and creepy. And whatever World's Fair plans might have been made and/or scrapped there over the years-- so many of the aging fairgrounds structures that were still there dated to the mid-60's-- I couldn't shake the feeling that some kind of World's Fair had actually already happened there. I think more than a few of these pix will second that emotion.

For starters, there was a big Gateway Arch over the main entrance. A plaque for a Time Capsule. A giant skeletal steel sign reminding you of where you were. And some kind of white steel pylon structurethat looked exactly like it might have once held a sign over the 7Up Pavilion at the '64 NYWF.

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There was an empty Court of Flags (dedicated by LBJ) and a central Observation Tower which featured the positively Utopian moniker, "Arrows to Atoms Space Tower."

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Thanks to period fonts and designs, many of the old buildings looked like they might have been airlifted in from the '39 NYWF.

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You'll also notice some new "old" looking light fixtures which replaced the Luminaires from Flushing Meadow.

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And yes, there was even a Monorail... with its track cut off on both ends and the original cars sadly trapped in another time.

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I really don't know how many, if any, of those structures are still there now, four years later. But walking those old grounds definitely spoke to a different time, when even Oklahoma seemed ready to welcome the world.

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Hey back at ya!

Everything you pictured it still there. I really miss the monorail in operation.

The grounds through renovations is cleaner, but has lost alot of it's charm. The state fair almost seems sterile and boring now. But I still go, gotta see the Car show there and eat (build up my immune system). LOL

Now thinking to the World's Fair that could have been, I doubt any of those buildings would have been utilized for the World's Fair, and if had, I assume they would have been heavily modified. IMO, Chances are the Luninaires may even have been removed for the World's Fair being they needed so much work to clean them up.

I have always thought the grounds had a world's fair feel to it, and often wondered how many items at the grounds could be other world's fair legacies other than the luminaires.

And 7up always came to mind when I see that one structure. Amazing similarity. Wonder if they got anything from Hemisfair after it closed being it was nearby.

I live not to too awful far from the grounds, any photo requests? I'd be happy to oblige.

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Am I understanding this correctly: The monorail is still just sitting there?

Hey back at ya!

Everything you pictured it still there. I really miss the monorail in operation.

The grounds through renovations is cleaner, but has lost alot of it's charm. The state fair almost seems sterile and boring now. But I still go, gotta see the Car show there and eat (build up my immune system). LOL

Now thinking to the World's Fair that could have been, I doubt any of those buildings would have been utilized for the World's Fair, and if had, I assume they would have been heavily modified. IMO, Chances are the Luninaires may even have been removed for the World's Fair being they needed so much work to clean them up.

I have always thought the grounds had a world's fair feel to it, and often wondered how many items at the grounds could be other world's fair legacies other than the luminaires.

And 7up always came to mind when I see that one structure. Amazing similarity. Wonder if they got anything from Hemisfair after it closed being it was nearby.

I live not to too awful far from the grounds, any photo requests? I'd be happy to oblige.

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Yes, AfterTheFair. It's permanently parked on a short section of track that still spans part of the fairgrounds. Just decoration now, really.

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Am I understanding this correctly: The monorail is still just sitting there?

When the State Fair Grounds decided to rid of the Monorail, they decided to leave a section of the rail, with a monorail train sitting upon it as a monument/momento of the fairgrounds history. Really a great idea to me than having it dissapear altogether.

Here is a shot before they had taken the rail down:

post-157-0-04834500-1312389359_thumb.jpg

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I know it's been several years, but any word on what happened to the lights from the fairgrounds? Destroyed? Scooped up by collectors?

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