At the end of chapter 9 (The Last Ride), Daniel asks Andi why her family did not travel to the recent International Exposition in Paris so she could see “all things electric.” If Andi had gone to Paris, she would have seen the telephone, Thomas Edison’s new phonograph, electric street lights, and the newly finished head of the Statue of Liberty on display!
World’s fairs—or International Expositions as they are sometimes called—have been around since the early 1800s. The first one was held in 1844 in Paris, France. The rest of Europe soon began hosting the fairs. England put on “The Great Exhibition” in 1851. During the 19th century (and even into the 20th century), world’s fairs were famous for displaying technological inventions (like the telephone, electric lights, and even solar power) and bringing science and technology from around the world together in one location.
The United States has hosted a number of world’s fairs: New York (1853 & 1939), Philadelphia (1876), Chicago (1893 & 1933), New Orleans (1884 & 1984), St. Louis (1904), San Francisco (1915 & 1939), and Seattle (1909 & 1962) to name a few.
After 1939, expositions began to depart from their original focus on technology. Inventions and scientific advancements were not the primary displays. Instead, many expositions showcased cultural themes like “Building the World of Tomorrow” and “Peace Through Understanding.”
When a city hosts a world’s fair, it can have long-lasting effects on the community. For example, the 1962 world’s fair (Century 21 Exposition) was held in Seattle, Washington. The race for the moon was in full swing, and the Expo’s motto was “Living in the Space Age.” A monorail and “Space Needle” were specially constructed for the Expo. To this day, Seattle is known for its space needle, left over from the world’s fair.
New Orleans hosted the last world’s fair in the United States in 1984. Since then, world’s fairs continue to exhibit around the world, but not in the U.S. Astana, Kazakhstan, will host the 2017 world’s fair, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is scheduled to host the exposition in 2020.
Attending a world’s fair is a memorable experience. Mrs. M. attended the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962, and she has never forgotten it. Going to the top of the space needle and riding the monorail are still exciting experiences for visitors.