Held in Chicago in 1893, the World’s Columbian Exposition played host to 27 million visitors. It’s notable for a few big things – it served as the ground for a bidding war between General Electric (who proposed the Fair be powered by Direct Current) and Westinghouse (who proposed Alternate Current), it was the first fair to have national pavilions (Haiti elected Frederick Douglass to be its delegate!), and it was the first Fair to have a separate area strictly for amusement.
In addition to the original Ferris Wheel, the first commercial movie theater was created on the grounds. Eadweard Muybridge gave lectures on animal movement using his zoopraxiscope, in the Zoopraxographal Hall to a paying public, making it the first time people had paid to see a motion picture. Take that, Oscars!
Here’s Muybridge’s beautiful device in action:
Oh also, Alternate Current won. But that’s a subject for another post.
Over at Imagineering Disney there’s a cool post with “Then and Now” images from the 1964-1965 World’s Fair in New York. The pictures are fascinating but it’s also a little depressing to see how quickly a lot of the structures have decayed.
My favorite bit from this post, however is the inspiring design of the ticket! I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the ticket to this fair before.
Great colors, fonts, and imagery in the middle. Just please don’t show me what it looks like now.
Nestle had a presence at the 1964 World’s Far in New York with Chunky Square, a pavilion which included a glass-walled building containing a factory that showed step-by-step the process in which Chunkies were made. The products were then made available for sale at a small round kiosk. I love this picture: from the entry to Chunky Square:
The “World’s Fair”-ness of the exhibit lay in the fact that the Chunky-making process was almost completely automated. Chunky Square also contained a playground filled with various sculptures for children to play on. Called the “Sculpture Continuum”, the shapes would take animal forms when viewed from certain angles. Pretty cool, but how does that fit in with Chunky again?
Here’s an ad from a Playbill for an Olsen and Johnson play performed in 1939 during the World’s Fair. This particular ad features a fashionable “Tish-U-Knit” sweater, obtainable at “smart shops anywhere”!
My favorite part is where you have to send them a letter to get the location of the nearest shop that sells the Midgies. Thank goodness we live in the FUTURE!
Hit the link for more great ads.
So Much Pileup‘s got some gorgeous, gorgeous concept drawings of the Japan pavilion at the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville. Here’s two of my favorites; the first looks like an AIR album cover:
I wonder how closely this held to reality. These drawings always seem to rely on things like clean floors and sparse attendance to achieve that “FUTURE” effect, but I’m willing to bet that this came close.
Also there’s this. What is it? Some sort of future-theater? I’m having a tough time finding out. Regardless, amazing:
It looks like it has something to do with the Sunsphere, or maybe it’s creating its own sun, or something.