Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The World's Fair!

Have any of you attended a World's Fair?  I haven't, although one of my friends ALMOST made it to the 1964-65 World's Fair in New York (her brother got sick so they couldn't go).

For people of my generation, especially those of you who live in the States, we were in our mid-teens the last time the US held a World's Fair.  I was 15 or 16 when the Fair was held in New Orleans in 1984 - that was the last one (I don't even remember hearing about it!).  In fact, for some of us the only reference to the World's Fair could possibly be the hilarious Simpsons episode where Bart, Milhouse, Nelson and Martin Prince road trip to Knoxville, TN, the site of the 1982 World's Fair (which was actually quite popular in real life, and turned a small profit of $57, but left Knoxville $46 million in debt!).  Here's a recap to refresh your memory. :D

Other popular expos from this time period were Seattle (1962), which produced the Space Needle; and Montreal, which hosted "Expo '67" to commemorate 100 years of independence (and was the most popular World's Fair of the 20th century).  I have ephemera from two different World's Fairs - the aforementioned New York fair in 1964-65:

World's Fair napkin, 1965

Unused World's Fair pass, available at Old Stuff Only

...and the San Antonio "Hemisfair '68", held in conjunction with the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio (the fair, incidentally, ended the day before I was born!).

"Hemisfair '68" bag, available at
Old Stuff Only

It appears that, for the next decade and a half, anyway, there will be no expos or "World's Fairs" held anywhere in North America.  It's interesting to note that developing countries are in the forefront with these expos now, with Kazakhstan, Turkey and Thailand all bidding for the 2017 or 2020 Expos.

I have used some of my ephemera in my collage work - one of the napkins from the New York World's Fair:

Is the era of the World's Fair over?  Only time will tell!


  1. hello mel, yes, i went to the 1964/65 world's fair a few times. we lived in ridgewood NY at the time, so it was right there. what an entertaining experience and one that i will not forget. i still have the guide book. most impressive stuff: visually the pieta by michaelangelo, olfactory the japanese pavillion (it was filled with hundreds of rose buds) and for my taste buds belgian waffles filled with ice cream.

    1. Hi Patricia! Wow, the fair must've really made an impression on you - you can actually remember what you ate? :D All kidding aside, that Michelangelo exhibit sounds amazing (so do the hundreds of rosebuds!)! :D

      I'm sort of bummed that I'll probably never experience something like this in my lifetime - I just don't think our cities have the money to do this sort of thing anymore, what with all of the budget cuts and everything. It makes me smile to know that you experienced it firsthand! :D

  2. Oh My Gosh - how funny is this??? Our family was going to go - and I was the one that got sick - MY brother was SO mad at me!!!

    I love the 'futuristic' look of all the world's fair stuff!