Saturday, March 03, 2018

Century 21 Expo

Back in 1962, Seattle hosted a World's Fair - the "Century 21 Expo" - the first Fair in the U.S. since the 1939/40 New York World's Fair. Though not as gigantic as the 1964 Fair (which was an "unofficial" World's Fair - not sanctioned by the Bureau of International Expositions), it still looks like it would have been inspiring and a ton of fun.

There's that crazy Space Needle - still one of the coolest structures ever. Paging George Jetson... the Needle is 184 meters tall. That's 605 feet. (Am I the only person that wishes that the U.S. had just switched to the metric system back in the 1970's like the rest of the world? Let's get angry about it!). Love that "re-entry red" paint.

Here's a bunch of men, relaxing on the Fairliner Tram. Notice the little ticket booth in the background, as well as the souvenir stand and the sign for the food concession. We even get a glimpse of another form of Fair transportation, the "Electricab".

Here's a view looking out the window (yes, windows for Rainy Seattle) of a Skyride vehicle, looking down on the "Gayway" amusement area. Beneath the purple gondola is the "Flight to Mars" dark ride - man do I wish I could see that for myself!

There's just something about a marching band, especially when they are dressed in white; it's like they just arrived from heaven! The girls at the booth selling Danish pastries only have eyes for the Sousaphone players.

I hope you liked these, because there are more to come!


Nanook said...


These are some unusual views form the fair. The first image is of the Islands of Hawaii Pavilion (Polynesian Playhouse), and the flags to the right should be on Memorial Stadium.

Love the shot thru the 'window' of the skyway car.

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

It's looks like there is an automat type of set-up in the bottom left corner of that first pic. And the door behind the machines is open, so perhaps someone was stocking them......or robbing them.

I like the design of that Skyride station! Do we know if that ride was reused elsewhere, when the Fair was over?

K. Martinez said...

I really like the Skyride terminal of the Union 76 Skyride. Even the Skyride supports are painted that Union 76 orange. Love it!

You can still ride the historic Seattle World's Fair Skyride, but at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, Washington. Even the beautiful terminal remains with the attraction.

Chuck said...

Nice to see the "other" early-'60s American fair again. While I know it was designed and run by different people, I've always kind of thought of this as sort of an architectural and thematic "dress rehearsal" for the '64 NYWF.

I've been to Seattle Center, been up in the Space Needle, and ridden the monorail, but I would have loved to have been there during the actual fair. My dad went with his parents and my aunt when he was in college on the same trip as his first visit to Disneyland, but nobody seems to know where the slides went. I remember seeing them through a PanaVue viewer in the mid-'80s; hopefully they will eventually show up somewhere. You don't happen to have them, do you, Major?

Patrick Devlin said...

I wonder where we got our info as kids on fairs like this or the NYWF. LIFE magazine? National Geographic? We certainly were digging all of things we'd never get to see, but I wonder how we followed along...

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I could see some food service machines, and even though the building is vaguely Polynesian, it never occurred to me that it could be a Hawaii pavilion!

TokyoMagic!, ah yes, “automat” is a better description! Think of all those delicious three day old sandwiches. I actually do wonder, did the food that wasn’t sold get tossed at some point? Or did it stick around until somebody finally bought it? That tapioca pudding doesn’t look so great! As I was reading your question about the Skyride, I was pretty certain that somebody else would answer it. And I see that Ken Martinez did it!

Ken Martinez, thank you for doing the work so that I can spend more time being lazy. It’s my favorite thing to do!

Chuck, you can see similarities in a lot of 20th century World’s Fairs, even going back to 1933 Chicago and 1939 New York - the technology might get fancier, but a lot of the ideas were reused. It’s kind of fascinating! And of course EPCOT, a “permanent World’s Fair”, also used many of those ideas, intentionally or not.

Patrick Devlin, I suppose people were generally more well-read than today, with (as you suggested) major magazines having such a huge influence. Even now I love to thumb through a vintage LIFE magazine. One year I gave everyone in my family an issue from the week they were born! There was a bookstore near me that had nearly every issue.

Melissa said...

It's a babushka Bonanza! Besides the lady at the pastry shop, there's another behind the Electricab, at far left, by the uniformed men in their snowy cravats. I hope she's not being hauled off to Expo Jail for wearing gang colors!

TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, thanks for the link to that footage. Not only do I want to go on the Skyride now, but I also want to go on some of those rides I could see below, like the Enterprise! It looks like the stations were maybe reduced in height at some point. They appear to be just one story tall and in Major's pic today, the station appears to be two stories. It's cool that they still exist today, as well as the ride system!

Major, that isn't tapioca, it's pistachio pudding. At least the color is telling me that it's pistachio. Your "three day-old sandwich" comment makes me think of Homer Simpson's 10 ft. hoagie that he couldn't throw out and that he kept eating off of for days, even after it turned a purplish-gray color.

Chuck said...

"Homer, are you still eating that sandwich?"