Saturday, February 28, 2015

Century 21 Expo, September 1962

Well, ladies and gents, ol' Major Pepperidge has been neglecting his scanning duties for far too long. Which means that I am somewhat unprepared on this "Anything Goes Saturday". Again.

SO… just because they are sitting on my computer, ready to go, here are the last few images of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (aka the "Century 21 Expo"), from a batch of stereo slides. They sound fantastic

No visit to the Expo would be complete without a photo of the magnificent Space Needle. I'm sure there must be somebody out there who doesn't like this "Jetsonian" edifice, and if so, I hope I never meet them, because they are clinically insane.

Oh, the humanity! It seems so funny to see those nearby hillsides covered in homes overlooking the Fairgrounds. Imagine the view at night, though. I love those "light poles" (or whatever they are) with the colored pieces of plexiglass, which combine to make other colors depending on the angle at which they were viewed.

There's the Alweg monorail… a real monorail, actually being used for transportation (just like the one in North Haverbrook)! It isn't as sexy as the one at Disneyland, but dammit, it's still there after all these years.

I think that blue-roofed structure is the Monorail station. An "ElecriCab" has just passed us (to our left); I guess we'll just have to use our feet like regular hu-mans and other schnooks. The kids in red coats are Boy Scouts, and they are just itchin' to do some good deeds.

Those graceful white structures have the look of a Martian cathedral (and I should know), or a futuristic city. The '62 Seattle Fair had a cozy, intimate feel to it compared to the gigantic New York Fair two years later; I wish I could have seen it for myself.

I'm not sure, but I think that might be it for my Seattle World's Fair photos (though there may be a few more in another box). I hope you've enjoyed your visit!


Nanook said...


Ahhh.. Century 21 Expo - and the fabulous Space Needle - pictured here in its original color scheme of Galaxy Gold, Re-entry Red, Orbital Olive and Astronaut White-! (I dare you to go into your local Sherwin-Williams paint store and try to find those colors). The International Fountain can be seen sending jets of water skyward, partially obscuring the Food Circus (originally The Armory, then the Center House, and now it's back to The Armory).

The "nearby hillsides" you reference in the second image are (is) in actuality the area known as Queen Anne. And the building at the very top - just to the left of the (KIRO TV - NBC affiliate) transmitting tower - is the old Queen Anne High School (1909-1981) and which has now been converted into condominiums. The building is also on the U.S. Register of Historic Places.

You are correct - the "blue-roofed structure" - with clear Plexi curved roof - in the 4th image is the (Alweg) Monorail station.

And those "graceful white structures" in the final image are a part of The United States Science Pavilion (now The Pacific Science Center), which was designed by Minoru Yamasaki, the same architect who designed The World Trade Center in NYC.

Thanks, Major, for another visit back to Century 21.

TokyoMagic! said...

It's nice that some elements of the Seattle World's Fair still remain today. I love riding the monorail in from downtown, but I wish they hadn't built that hideous monstrosity (the EMP building) around the monorail beam back in 2000. It doesn't fit in with the other architecture and it ruins the view of Seattle Center as you approach the station.

I wish the monorails in Brockway and Ogdenville were still operating!

K. Martinez said...

I was actually disappointed in the Seattle Center and Space Needle when I went up there in 2004. I suppose if I saw it when I was younger I would've been more impressed. This was also a few years after I went to the top of the Empire State Building which for me couldn't be beat for architectural beauty, height and view. It's kind of like comparing apples and oranges I guess, but I still couldn't help but be disappointed. Perhaps I built it up too much in my head.

What I really loved about my visit to Seattle and was impressed with was the Seattle Underground tour. That totally fascinated me along with the general history of that area. I also enjoyed spending time at the Pike Place Market where it's fish market employees threw large salmon to each other.

As for the monorails, they're limited to two monorails due to it running shuttle style on two parallel tracks. Also the two trains collided in 2005 due to a design change flaw in the tracks which placed the curves too close to each other.

Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, well I knew about "Galaxy Gold", but not those others. "Orbital Olive" seems to be going a step too far! I knew about the Queen Anne area, and that Yamasaki designed the WTC as well. I should hire you to write my blog posts!

TokyoMagic!, I like some Frank Gehry buildings (like Disney Hall), but his EMP building and his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame building are rather hideous, IMO. There are rumors that the Ogdenville monorail will be restored!

K. Martinez, wow, I can't imagine the Space Needle being disappointing. True, it's not as tall as the magnificent Empire State Building, but even so… it has to be an impressive view from way up there. I'll bet it ain't cheap to get up there, though. Never heard of the underground tour. Is it full of mutants and alligators? I always wondered why they didn't build the Seattle monorail as a loop, but I'm sure the answer is "It cost too much".

Nanook said...

@ Major-

Oh, I figured you knew all that 'stuff', but chose to self-edit your commentary. However, it was I.M. Pei who designed the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

@ TokyoMagic!-

There is definitely something to be said for "the original view" of Seattle Center, but the backside of Memorial Stadium, the side of the Armory and (the now) removed Fun Forest amusement area, is hardly a 'gateway view' worthy of preserving. Frankly, surrounding a small portion of the beamway with a structure (EMP) adds a bit of interest to the journey.

I'll leave it up to others to decide if the exterior design of EMP is a thing of beauty, or an eyesore.

And - I believe the monorail in North Haverbrook is still going strong-! Well, heck - that's where "the monorail is king-!"

K. Martinez said...

Major - The Space Needle was the one attraction I most wanted to see when I visited Seattle and it was with high expectations. That was probably the problem right there. Wish I could say I loved it. And as far as it ain't being cheap, it cost twice as much to go up to the top of the Space Needle than it did to go to the top of the Empire State Building.

The view was definitely nice though.

Nanook said...

@ K. Martinez-

I think puns must be contagious: "The Space Needle.... and it was with high expectations". Touché.

TokyoMagic! said...

I love Seattle. Pike's Market and Pioneer Square with it's Underground Tour that K. Martinez mentioned should not be missed. I also enjoy walking around Seattle Center and looking at the few remnants of the Fair that are still there (I would love to do that in Flushing Meadow sometime as well). However, Nanook is right about Seattle Center changing over the years. The EMP building just seemed out of place to me....and Major, I agree with you.....I like Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall too. The EMP building is this weird mishmash of color and different shapes that in my opinion don't blend together, but hey, who am I to say? I guess as "art", it is to be left to the interpreter. As for other changes to Seattle Center, I was also surprised a few years back to see that a huge glass cylindrical structure had been built around the base of the Space Needle. It isn't exactly an ugly structure, but it's very modern and I don't think it belongs at the base of the 1962 Space Needle.

Dean Finder said...

It's fascinating to see Seattle WF pics that show how the fair was integrated into the city, with the office building and Food Circus in the frame with the Space Needle. Nothing like that from Flushing Meadows.
I think one of those Boy Scouts dropped a stink bomb just before the second photo was taken. Everyone's making a face like they just smelled a skunk.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook… OH YEAH! That I.M. Pei… I forgot.

K. Martinez, the last time I was in NYC, we were planning on taking a trip to the Observation Deck of the Empire State Building (I hadn’t been up there since I was a kid). But it was so cold and windy at ground level, we could only imagine how much worse it must have been 1000 feet above us! So we passed.

Nanook, I have the feeling that it was an unintentional pun!

TokyoMagic!, I have never been to Seattle, unfortunately. The EMP might very well be great art, but there’s plenty of great art that doesn’t do it for me.

Dean Finder, I didn’t notice, but you’re right, nobody looks very happy in that photo with the Scouts!

Nanook said...

@ TokyoMagic!-

In 2000, the remodeled "base" of the Space Needle - including the Pavilion Level and The SpaceBase, naturally - was following an original concept from 1962, which due to time/dollar constraints was not completed then. Whether or not it would have looked the same had it been completed in 1962, we'll probably never know.

But, take it from me, the present configuration is far, far better than what originally was built 38 years prior.

As for the EMP Museum, it would most-likely "seem out of place" just about anywhere - that's either its charm or its thorn in many an observers' side. I'm afraid all those 'colors' are representative of many things Jimi Hendrix. Unfortunately, without a "scorecard, or glossary", it makes little sense to the average passerby, and probably little more when you know the 'meaning'. It may not be the Disney Concert Hall, but again, take my word for it, when viewed close-up, it can be quite beautiful.

TokyoMagic! said...

Nanook, that is very interesting! I have seen old concept art showing a ramp winding around the base of the Space Needle. The ramp had a roof over it, but it was not enclosed. I wonder if that was the inspiration for the 2000 remodel job or if there were other early design concepts involving a larger structure.