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    Follow the Stories | Seattle (2013)

    World's Fair Design and Architecture: Symbols of Solidarity

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    • ROADSHOW Reaches a Higher Altitude
      ROADSHOW Reaches a Higher Altitude

      Up into the Space Needle the ANTIQUES ROADSHOW team went for a chat about World's Fair posters with expert Nicholas Lowry. With the Seattle, Washington, sky setting the stage, Nicho delved into the subtleties of these graphic treasures.

      The poster on the left is from the 1939 World's Fair in New York featuring the Trylon and Perisphere; it is especially rare, valued between $2,500 and $3,500. The one on the right is an unofficial one from the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle and depicts the Space Needle and Pacific Science center, valued between $600 and $900.

      Bringing science, technology, and future thinking together into one event, the World's Fair serves as a platform for getting in touch with what industries could become, what laws of physics they could defy.

    • The Trylon
      The Trylon: The 1939 New York World's Fair, "Building The World of Tomorrow"

      From wonder and experience came a focus of World's Fairs to bring in a theme of cultural significance, including utopian, futuristic themes. The modernistic Trylon, with its three sides and standing 610 feet tall, reached toward the sky in an uplifting, abstract way. Given the economic downturn in the United States during the Great Depression, the New York World's Fair provided an opportunity to create a renewed sense of strength. Designed by architects Wallace Harrison and J. Andre Fouilhoux, the Trylon (named such by combining the words "triangular pylon,") served as the identifying symbol of the fair. The structure was installed at Flushing Meadows Park, Queens.

      (Image: Library of Congress)

    • The Perisphere
      The Perisphere: The 1939 New York World's Fair, "Building The World of Tomorrow"

      The Perisphere was coupled with the Trylon to create an area called the "Theme Center." Sitting next to the Trylon, this humungous sphere with a diameter of 185 feet housed a diorama called "Democracity," which depicted the city-of-the-future, designed by Henry Dreyfuss. Visitors entered the Perisphere via moving stairway, then exited down the stark, dramatic curved walkway called the "Helicine." After the World's Fair, both structures were torn down with parts used for scrap metal.

      (Image: Leo Husick, New York, 1939 via Wikimedia Commons)

    • The Parachute Jump
      The Parachute Jump: The 1939 New York World's Fair, "Building The World of Tomorrow"

      On a more whimsical note, the bright, colorful, 250-foot-tall Parachute Jump provided thrills for visitors. Eleven boundary-pushing couples sat beneath parachutes, which a cable would then pull to the top of the tower before an automatic release dropped the passengers to float to the ground. Wires and rings kept the falls controlled and mechanized. The Parachute Jump is now a landmark and can be seen at Coney Island.

      (Image: Gregg NHOC, 2003 via Wikimedia Commons)

    • Poster, Print, Promo
      Poster, Print, Promo: World's Fair Design

      Posters from the World's Fair were popular souvenirs and collectibles, such as this official poster from the 1962 "Century 21" Seattle World's Fair. Official posters from the Seattle World's Fair generally run in value from $300 to $600. Many posters were made as promotional materials before these structures were built; the poster of the Trylon and Perisphere seen on ROADSHOW was created two years prior to the New York World's Fair.

    • The Space Needle
      The Space Needle: The 1962 Seattle World's Fair, "Century 21"

      At 605 feet tall, upon completion the Space Needle in Seattle was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi, designed by John Graham & Company. With its flying saucer observation deck and revolving restaurant, this symbol of space exploration and experimental engineering in the early 1960s still inspires awe today.

      (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

    • Pacific Science Center
      Pacific Science Center, The 1962 Seattle World's Fair, "Century 21""

      The original buildings and structures were the United States Science Pavilion, erected for visitors' engagement with technology and science as part of one of the five theme areas of the fair. Other areas included art, entertainment, commerce and industry, and "Tomorrow." A theater in the Science Center was originally called the "Spacerium," which presented films of journeys through space.

      (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

    • The Unisphere
      The Unisphere: The 1964 New York World's Fair, "Peace Through Understanding"

      In the same location as the Trylon and Perisphere once stood at Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, is the Unisphere. Given the United States' interest in the space age in the early 1960s, the steel planet Earth represented strong dedication to exploring the stars. It was presented by United States Steel, reaching a height of 140 feet, and was built to last beyond the time of the fair and act as a unifying symbol in Queens.

      (Image: Doug Coldwell, 1964 via Wikimedia Commons)

    • The New York State Pavilion
      The New York State Pavilion: The 1964 New York World's Fair, "Peace Through Understanding"

      On the other hand, the New York State Pavilion was not originally built to last, and yet it still stands in Queens today. The structure cost the state $5 million to produce and was left to remain in the park to serve as a tourist attraction, the pavilion to provide a covered area for various park events. As this photo shows, though, the structure has become neglected and does not uphold the aspirations it was once created to represent, a "County Fair of the Future."

      (Image: Noah Sheridan via Wikimedia Commons)

    • The American Pavilion
      The American Pavilion, The 1967 International and Universal Exposition, "Expo 67"

      While most of the World's Fair structures thus far have suggested futuristic themes of space, physics, and industry, the now-named Montreal Biosphère in Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal, Quebec, was part of a theme called "Man and His World," to signify the shared experience of human solitude and the fusion created from human solidarity. The pavilion's geodesic dome, a spherical structure based on a network of circles on the surface that intersect to form triangular elements to distribute stress, was designed by Buckminster Fuller.

      (Image: Philipp Hienstorfer via Wikimedia Commons)

    • Tower of the Americas
      Tower of the Americas, The 1968 San Antonio World's Fair, "HemisFair '68"

      Deemed the "Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas," the HemisFair '68 also coincided with the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio. A mix of national and corporate pavilions still exists today in the park, which was originally built on over 90 acres in downtown San Antonio. The 750-foot tower, the theme structure for the event, was designed by architect O'Neil Ford and was the tallest observation tower in the U.S. from 1968-1996.

      (Image: Henry Camacho via Wikimedia Commons)

    • Sunsphere
      Sunsphere, The 1982 Knoxville World's Fair, "Energy Turns the World"

      In keeping with the combination observation tower and restaurant trend seen in other World's Fair installations, the Sunsphere, designed by architectural firm Community Tectonics, stands at 266 feet, topped with the ostentatious golden globe. Whereas the rest of the pavilions were demolished, the Sunsphere still stands today, with an observation deck open to the public.

      (Image: J. Glover, 2004 via Wikimedia Commons)

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