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Expo ’74

Expo ’74 was the first environmentally themed world’s fair . It was held in Spokane , Washington, United States and ran from 4 May to 3 November 1974. The heart of the park is located on Canada Island, Havermale Island, and the adjacent Spokane River in the center of the city. With the exception of two pavilions, all of the buildings were modular structures assembled on the site. The fair had 5.2 million visitors and was considered a success, nearly breaking even, revitalizing the blighted urban core, and pumping an estimated $ 150 million into the local economy and surrounding region.

In proclaiming itself the first exhibition on an environmental theme, Expo ’74 distanced itself from the more techno-centric world’s fairs of the 1960s. The environmental theme was promoted in several high-profile events, such as a symposium on United Nations World Environment Day (June 5) attended by 1,200 people including many international representatives, and ECAFE Day for the United Nations Economic Council for Asia and the United States. East Far (June 14) that discussed regional environment issues. [1]


Spokane Was The Smallest city to host a world’s fair reconnu by the Bureau International des Expositions up to Knoxville, Tennessee Held the 1982 World’s Fair eight years later (the Spokane metropolitan area is still far smaller than the Knoxville metropolitan area). World’s Fairs began at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution as public showcases. Expo ’74 was the first fair in decades that did not focus on the space age, futuristic themes, or utopian ideas of living. An environmental theme was decided upon by the organizing committee, however there was some uncertainty about it because it had never been used before. After considering several other slogans, such as “How Man Can Live, Work and Play in Harmony With His Environment”, Expo ’74 settled on “Celebrating Tomorrow’s Fresh New Environment.” [2]

Uncertainty about the ability of a small business to make a large investment in the world. Kodak , General Motors , and Ford hosted pavilions at this fair but they were scaled down in size and presence compared to the exhibits constructed for the New York Worlds Fair ten years earlier. For the first time since the company’s Beginning, General Electric Did not-have a fair pavilion purpose it sponsored the musical group Up with People That Performed During the summer at the fair. Pacific Northwest Bellhad a pavilion that eliminated the use of air conditioning by using louvered panels on the roof. They demonstrated the use of TTY equipment and discussed the use of 911 for emergency telephone services. Expo ’74 was the last time that the Bell system would be exhibited at the world’s fair before its breakup ten years later.

Australia, Canada, West Germany , Iran , Japan, Taiwan , Republic of Korea , United States and the USSR . [1] Architectural Critics Were intrigued citation needed ] by the Australian Pavilion icts with 36 revolving screen audio visual platform and a model of the newly completed Sydney Opera House . (The artistic director for the film was film director Jonathan Dawson ). However, writer Calvin Trillintartly commented that the exhibits of several other countries are designed to demonstrate their nation’s lack of environmental care. “While other world fairs had been introduced, the escalator, and the Belgian waffle, Spokane’s Expo ’74 would be associated forever with the ‘institutionalized mea culpa,'” Trillin wrote in The New Yorker . [2]

President Richard M. Nixon presided over the spot where he addressed a crowd of some 85,000, including a few hecklers who shouted “Jail to the Chief!”. However, by the time the fair closed, Nixon had already resigned in shame to the Watergate Scandal . [3]

One piece of technology that made its debut at Expo ’74 was the IMAX movie theater. The original theater, built inside the United States Pavilion, had a screen that measured 90 ft × 65 ft (27 mx 20 m), completely covering the front wall of the pavilion. It was the largest indoor movie screen at the time and had bigger dimensions than a typical movie screen. The quote, “The Earth Does not Believe in Man, Man Believes to the Earth” (Attributed to Chief Seattle) was written in large letters on the outside wall. Inside the pavilion, visitors watched “Man Belongs to the Earth,” a 23-minute IMAX movie made for Expo by Paramount. Scenes of US splendor led to environmental problems including air pollution in Denver. The film was so realistic-especially during a sequence flying through the Grand Canyon-that motion sickness bags had to be made available. [4]

The fair also featured the interactive movie system Kinoautomat .

After the event closed, the exhibition site became the city’s 100 acre (400,000 sqm) Riverfront Park , containing the US Pavilion and a clock tower (part of a Great Northern Rail depot that was demolished for Expo ’74), which prominently featured the park’s logo.

Several structures built for the fair are still standing. The United States Pavilion still houses an IMAX theater built after the fair, as well as a winter warming. Plans are being made, however, for a new design for the pavilion that will eliminate the IMAX theater. The Washington State Pavilion still stands and is used by the Spokane Convention Center and the INB Performing Arts Center. Spokane’s iconic Looff Carousel was disassembled in March 2017, with a new building planned. The carousel (which in Spokane is spelled “carousel”) originated in Natatorium Park, which closed in 1967, and was restored for the World’s Fair. [5] An additional six structures, including the Republic of China Pavilion, were moved 150 miles south to Walla Walla where they were re-purposed to be used as classrooms and a performing arts theater for the Walla Walla Community College . [6]

The original covering of the US pavilion was a thick vinyl sheeting that was not designed to last. It was allowed to become damaged, become unsafe and safely. When the city opted to remove the cover, chunks of the thick vinyl could be purchased as keep-sakes. The Spokane voices the opinion that it should remain a unique architectural statement, and a monument to the 1974 exhibition.

Souvenirs are still available at The White Elephant in Spokane.

Entertainment and famous visitors

Dance : Cheremosh Ukrainian Dance Company

See also

  • Expo ’74 , special Amtrak service between Spokane and Seattle
  • List of world exhibitions
  • List of world’s fairs


  1. ^ Jump up to:b Bowers, Dawn (1974). Expo ’74 World’s Fair Spokane: Official Commemorative of the Spokane World Exposition 1974 . Expo ’74 Corporation.
  2. ^ Jump up to:b William T. Youngs (April 21, 2010). “Expo ’74 and Earth Day” . The Pacific Northwest Inlander . Spokane, WA, USA: The Pacific NW Inlander . Retrieved 26 May 2011 .
  3. Jump up^ http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=5133
  4. Jump up^ https://archive.org/details/govntis.ava03671vnb1
  5. Jump up^ Spokane’s Natatorium Park – Home PageThe Forestry Pavilion was re-purposed as a picnic shelter for Riverfront Park, and can still be seen on the far side of the hill on which the US Pavilion (now known simply as “The Pavilion “) sits. Other structures that remain in Spokane include the floating stage in front of the opera house, the Harold Balazs sculpture next to the opera house and the trash-eating.
  6. Jump up^ Expo ’74 Spokane: China Pavilion

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