Saturday, July 12, 2014

Brussels World's Fair, 1958

Expo 58, also known as the Brussels World's Fair, was the first post-WWII World's Fair, and in many ways it set the stage for Seattle's "Century 21" Expo and the 1964 New York World's Fair.

Here is the United States pavilion, that "… included a fashion show with models walking down a large spiral staircase, an electronic computer that demonstrated a knowledge of history, and a color television studio behind glass". Say, that sounds swell!

I am ashamed to admit that the USSR pavilion fascinates me more than the USA pavilion. Wikipedia sez: "The Soviet pavilion was a large impressive building which they folded up and took back to Russia when Expo 58 ended. They had a facsimile of Sputnik which mysteriously disappeared, and they accused the US of stealing it". Man, I would have stolen it if I could have! What a conversation piece.

There's the Atomium (what an awesome name!), representing a single unit of an iron crystal, with each sphere representing an atom. It is 102 meters tall (that's 335 feet - am I the only person who feels embarrassed that the US couldn't make the switch to the Metric system while the rest of the world could?).

In this very dark photo you can see the Sky Ride as it passes the Luxembourg pavilion. Which I can find almost nothing about! I have failed you as a blogger.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to Expo 58!


Nanook said...


My goodness - all this talk about the Brussels World's Fair, reminds me of the record album entitled: Jan Clayton sings Carousel at the Brussels World's Fair, on Disneyland Records.

See how easy it is to 'bring it all full-circle'-? Here we are on 'Anything Goes Saturday', and yet it still has a Disney connection.

Thanks, Major.

Nancy said...

Gorgeous pictures!! Really have inspired me to do some reading about this one.

I think I have an album from this Fair, too, but I will have to find it later (getting ready for work :( now)

Thanks for a fun start on this warm Saturday!

TokyoMagic! said...

I believe an early version of Walt Disney's "America The Beautiful" in CircleVision was shown in the American pavilion or in a building next door to the American pavilion. After the fair closed, "America The Beautiful" opened at Disneyland.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Being an American and too lazy to do the proper research. I would make an edge-a-mickated guess that is a Von Roll Skyway. Von Roll was the big name in so called "off the shelf" Skyway rides for theme parks, ski resorts, bubbling tar pits, etc. Von Roll is to Skyway as Alweg is to monorail. ;-)
Coolio pics, thanks for posting.

Grandpa Simpson said...

The metric system is the tool of the Devil!
My car gets 40 rods tot he hogshead, and that's the way I likes it!

Nanook said...

@ TokyoMagic! & Alonzo P Hawk-

Of course you (TM!) are correct about America the Beautiful premiering at the Fair. You can read about it here.

Same for APH - It's a Von Roll, and it ended up at Lakeland, an amusement park in Memphis.

K. Martinez said...

L always thought something like the Atomium would've been cool at the entrance to Tomorrowland.

I can still experience some of that Von Roll magic 30 miles north of me at California's Great America. I'm amazed the Delta Flyer/Eagle's Flight is still in operation at that park.

Chuck said...

102 meters, you say? Why, that would make the Atomium a bit more than 20&1/4 rods or about 5 chains and 1&1/2 yards in height. Who needs the metric system when we have alternate, easy-to-use measuring systems?

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I have seen that album on ebay… have you ever actually heard it?

Nancy, wow, I will be impressed if you have an album from the Brussels World's Fair. That is not something most people can say!

TokyoMagic!, yes, I have read about that as well. I guess the film replaced the "Tour of the West", which I would still kill to see.

Alonzo, I would be wiling to be big money that Von Roll made that Sky Ride… did anybody else even do those? Seems like Von Roll did all of them, as far as I know.

Grandpa Simpson, my grandfather's brother used to talk about plowing fields, and he actually used "rods" as measurement. I couldn't believe it.

Nanook, unfortunately, I can write, but I can't read!

K. Martinez, the Atomium would be cool anywhere. It does seem like it belongs in our Tomorrowland, somehow. The "atomic Tomorrow" that used to be such a golden dream vanished by the time WDW was built.

Chuck, I say we just stop talking to the rest of the world, so we don't have to worry about the metric system ever again. See? The solution was so easy.

Unknown said...

So that's called the Atomium? I've seen pics of it before, but always thought it was the Giant Tinkertoy!

Major Pepperidge said...

Unknown, if you go to Brussels, you can still see the Atomium!

Unknown said...

That's cool! We've lost so much "googie" and "mid-Century Modern" stuff that I'm always glad to hear some stuff survives. I don't know what's left from the 1964 NY World's Fair, but Seattle still has some of the 1962 World's Fair structures (besides the obvious -- the Space Needle!), such as the Monorail, U.S. Science Pavilion, and International Fountain, and well as some older buildings 're-purposed' for the Fair. The Food Fair was the old Armory, where my Dad used to go for his National Guard meetings back in the 1940s, and the old stadium was where my Dad played football for Queen Anne High (just up the hill)!

My grandfather was a prominent civil engineer in Seattle, and was on the original committee to create the Century 21 Exposition (before it was granted World's Fair status). As he told it years after, Alweg was pushing hard to get a monorail actually in place in a city, being used for daily commuting, so largely financed the Seattle monorail as a sort of "show-piece". Sadly, a more ambitious proposal to extend the monorail system throughout Seattle was met with either apathy or opposition by the city fathers. My grandfather always maintained that had Seattle "bitten the bullet" in the early-mid 1960's and gone ahead, they'd of had a first-rate rapid transit system, and at a fraction of what one would cost in later years. Apparently my folks remembered a similar proposal made by Alweg to Los Angeles (where we were living at the time) which was also never acted upon! Now when you hear about the (very limited) LA Metro Rail system, and the staggering costs to build it, you have to marvel at how short-sighted city planners were back then! (Especially L.A. with those horrendous freeway commutes! My folks knew people with hour or hour-and-a-half daily commutes to and from work -- and that's one-way!)

BTW, I was angry when they "chopped short" the Seattle monorail system (back in the 1980's, if I remember). It wasn't long enough, as it was! Even so, it's still nice to be able to leave the car at Seattle Center, and travel downtown on the monorail (or vise-versa), and dream about what 'might have been'!
-- Mike Douglas