Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Hoodlock

The evolution of world's fair themes

Recommended Posts

The evolution of world's fair themes, Trylon (40's) = Skylon (50's) = Unisphere. (60's)

For those not familiar with the Skylon from the London Exposition of 1951 check out the link below,

<a href="http://search.freefind.com/find.html?id=1465446&pageid=r&mode=ALL&query=skylon" target="_blank">http://search.freefind.com/find.html?id=14...LL&query=skylon</a>

[This message has been edited by Hoodlock (edited 09-26-2000).]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are several good sites for ths Space Needle as well. The one below is very interesting:

<a href="http://www.seattlecenter.com" target="_blank">http://www.seattlecenter.com</a>

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the much-maligned Unisphere has held up as a signature work. None the smaller expositions in this country since then have produced anthing as unique and identifiable (San Antonio, Spokane, Knoxville, New Orleans).

The Space Needle is probably the champ as it remains,like the Eiffel Tower for Paris, the symbol of Seattle almost 40 years on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would have to say the fairs in San Antonio, Spokane, Knoxville and New Orleans all left their host cities with long lasting civic improvements.

I don't know much about the history of Hemisfair or Expo74. I have visited the tower and park in San Antonio. Had they planned anything different for these fairs?

The fair in Knoxville was the first I attended. Some of the original concept art for the Sunsphere was very grand and impressive. Much larger than what was built. It's a shame that money always gets in the way. Building codes also played a part in how the Sunsphere turned out.

If I remember correctly they had proposed a tall tower for Expo84 but again due to a lack of money it was never built. I did enjoy the Wonderwall. I remember it as being very magical and whimsical. The towers of the MART were tall but far from inspiring.

All four fairs were in one way or another modeled after Seattle's fair. Not exact copies and some did better than others.

It's hard to imagine the Space Needle being different from what it is now but early designs for the tower were... strange.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Space Needle is an interesting theme symbol partly because it was not the "official" symbol of the Century 21 Exposition at all. It was, in reality, a private enterprise. It was originally sketched by Edward Carlson, the Fair Commissioner, while on a trip to Stuttgart. He was inspired by the huge television tower which has a restaurant near the top. The final project, begun just one year before the Fair opened, was funded by private investors and the Space Needle was operated as a privately sponsored exhibit, and it is still operated that way today (although it has been granted historical landmark status to protect it from radical changes in appearance). The Space Needle so caught the imagination of the public that it came to symbolize the Fair. When the postal service used the Needle on a stamp, it was said to be the first time a private venture had been so distinguished. Century 21 was called the "jewel box fair." Only about 75 acres in size, it was a glittering showcase and the surviving Seattle Center is a monument to great urban planning. One other note: One can purchase actual Century 21 Exposition souvenirs at the Space Needle. These are not reproductions and include slides, paper weights, post cards, pens etc.--all from the Fair. The gift shop is sort of a time warp.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting entry on the Space Needle. The Seattle Center succeeded because the Seattle World's Fair was well-integrated with the surrounding city. The NY Fair was self-contained and bore no relation to the adjacent neighborhoods.

The NYWF/FMCP had a different goal and that accounts for how the Park impacts Queens and N.Y.C. today. Except for the border of what was the Transportation Area near the Hall of Science, you must cross over/under major highways or rail lines to get into the park. Mainly this resulted from R.M.'s pre-Fair conception of FMCP not as a local park but as a regional center and the focus of the N.Y.C. arterial highways network drawing people from throughout the Metropolitan Area. The facilities to draw the people though were never carried out. The Hall of Science, as an example, was meant to be part of a much larger science museum, which in turn was to be only one component in a New York "Smithsonian Institution". In that respect the National Tennis Center and Shea Stadium (officially part of the Park) are the only parts which realized this concept as they play to a regional audience.

I visited the New Orleans fair site in the early '90s and there was nothing like Seattle Center left. I believe the New Orleans Convention Center was part of the Expo and is active but holds little interest for the casual visitor. The Vatican Pavilion remained but was empty and unused, reminding me a bit of the U.S. Pavilion at FMCP (unvandalized however). I've read that the Knoxville site was underused Post-Expo. I don't know much about Spokane.

So Seattle is the champ in goals-fulfilled in that it was planned, sanctioned, and built to a well-conceived scale, operated efficiently enough to turn a profit and then integrated successfully with the surrounding city. All that and it produced an Elvis Presley movie too!

One thing though, if they are still selling original Century 21 souveneirs out of the box 38 years later whoever was in charge of inventory control in 1962 really was in outer space.

[This message has been edited by Gene (edited 09-28-2000).]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The U.S. Pavilion in Knoxville was also saved after the fair and was supposed to be turned into a science center but it never happened. I don't have the date but the building was torn down. The Sunsphere has also been mostly ignored.

Spokane's fair site was designed to be a city park and venue for entertainments with the U.S. Pavilion and opera house (Washington State Pavilion) remaining after the fair.

MART at Expo84 was supposed to remain after the fair as well but it was never used.

I remember back in the 80s the city of Seattle brought in Disney as a consultant to redesign Seattle Center. Disney's proposal was out of touch with what Seattle wanted and was ignored.

[This message has been edited by Marc Williams (edited 09-28-2000).]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gene,

You're correct in what you say of FMCP. The Hall of Science and Shea were supposed to play thos respective parts.

Regarding New Orleans; the Convention Center was there before the Fair, unless they built a new one.

Sunsphere's restaurant is closed. The tower is now open only as an observation deck.

Go under Marc Willaiams's links and there is a limited site for Spokane.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ken, I assumed the Morial Convention Center in N.O. was part of Expo '84 as it is located right at the old fair site across ( at least in '92) from the former Vatican Pavilion. According to their website it opened in '85 so perhaps it was an exhibition building during Expo.

The earlier Convention Center, smaller and closer to the French Quarter, was still there at that time and last I heard was to be turned in to a Casino. From it's "space age" look it appears to have been built in the early-mid '60s.

As I have yet to find an Expo '84 website, we will have to wait for some Louisianan NYWF fan to fill in the above blanks.

[This message has been edited by Gene (edited 09-29-2000).]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gene,

Sounds like you're right. The Convention Center I was thinking of was closer to the French Quarter.

All searches for this Expo have turned up empty. I know it wasn't popular; but it seems as if it never existed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×