Happy 50th Birthday, Seattle World’s Fair

The Seattle World’s Fair opened today in 1962 and closed on October 21. As a child in England, I was fascinated by the World’s Fair. We had television so I must have seen some footage at time, but it was beyond my expectations ever to visit, despite having an American father. So that may have been the subliminal reason for choosing Seattle when I emigrated to the US in 1989, even if I didn’t consciously base my choice on the memory. At the time, it was more about the logistics of Greyhound schedules in getting from the East Coast to the West. It would have been a wasted opportunity not to see the Pacific with my own eyes. As it turned out, I fetched up in Seattle for the next 20 years and didn’t dip my toes in the ocean until 2009, a year before returning to live in Scotland.

I started out temping, and got a long-term assignment at a condom testing laboratory in the Queen Anne neighbourhood, which included the Fair site. It’s now an arts and entertainment campus called the Seattle Center. I also found an apartment in the same neighbourhood. The Seattle Center has always been one of my favourite places, and for it to be local was a piece of extraordinarily good fortune.

You can get some of the flavour of the Fair in this contemporary record by “Mr Here,” which perfectly expresses the boundless optimism of the time. Be prepared for cultural dissonance, particularly since the fairground exhibits were located in “Gayway 21.”

There was also a film tie-in, with Elvis appearing on location in It Happened at the World’s Fair.

The Seattle Center is still a hub for for the arts, sports, and entertainment, as you can see from their website. It was one-stop shopping for all my opera, ballet, theatre, science, live music, and festival needs. The Center House, which has been remodeled since I left, was a great place to hang out and indulge in my favourite spectator sport – people watching. I used to go there almost every day. I miss it. Scotland may have its charms, but I’d rather be in Seattle right now.

Here’s the special feature on the anniversary from the Seattle Times and a photo gallery from the PI.

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