Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor
Volume XI, Issue X
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." -- Sir Winston Churchill
The age of the great world's fair had been proclaimed over before, and yet here in the new Alaskan capital of Fairgate there stood a world of wonder to rival them all. The great fairs had had their beginning in the Nineteenth Century. They brought people together to see great wonders and inspired civic architecture with their gleaming classical edifices and grand reflecting pools. Rowdy Chicago was transformed through the vision of the 'White City' presented by the 1893 Columbian Exposition. St. Louis in 1904 also saw a grand vision for her future.
In Europe, France celebrated the Centennial of her bloody revolution by hosting the 1889 Exposition Universelle which featured as its centerpiece the famous Eiffel Tower. Though the critics heaped contempt on the bold design of Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier, it eventually became the symbol of the city of Paris! Railroads brought the crowds to view wonders of the present world and visions for the world to come.
New York hosted two great fairs, one in 1939/1940 and another in 1964/1965. The two-season fairs ran afoul of the official sanctioning agency's policy of recognizing only one season for each exhibition, thus they were unrecognized by the agency; but they were great fairs. Thew 1939 fair presented a vision of the future to a Depression-weary America. Farm ladies in print dresses wandered past wondrous household appliances they would only see in their own homes after a horrible World War was over. The 'White City' was replaced by a Deco world not unlike the movie vision of the Emerald City in Oz. General Motors proudly presented 'Futurama,' a ride through the world as it would be in 1960!
The 1964/1965 Worlds's Fair also produced visions of the future. General Motors built a bigger and better 'Futurama' and showed visitors underwater hotels and cities on the Moon! It was heralded as the "last of the great world's fairs." Indeed it ushered in innovations in communication and technology that would soon bring the world to people in the remotest of places. A New York Times article went so far as to say that the New York World's Fair sealed the fate of future fairs. To be sure, there were more great fairs, but by the beginning of the 21st Century the world was coming to you via your little screen! Air travel became more stressful in those years and people pretty much had seen everything that was going to be exhibited on their iPhones anyway.
Alaska had actually hosted another 'Centennial Exposition' in 1967 to celebrate 100 years passing since the purchase from Russia in 1867. It was somewhat small and had been overshadowed by Expo '67 in Montreal, Canada. Both the Montreal fair and the Fairbanks fair had featured geodesic domes... a forerunner of the biospheres that would cover her communities in another century. At the time it indeed seemed as though technology had rendered the institution of 'World's Fairs' obsolete. They had progressed from grand 'White Cities' that had inspired true civic renewal to brash conglomerations of competing iconic structures that, while fascinating, were not exactly structures you wanted to copy in remaking your community.
The Bering Strait Bridge was completed in the 21st Century and the world seemed smaller again. Evacuated tube trains made extremely long distance travel fun again as they could literally whisk you to the other side of the world in a matter of hours. In the years following the Alaska Revolution, there seemed to be a newfound optimism and people were ready to visit the great fairs again. Since Alaska still considered it's 'birth' to be in 1959, a Centennial Exposition was planned. Martin O'Malley became the Director of the Fair Corporation mainly as a means of keeping busy while staying out of the hair of his niece, who now ran the bridge. In his nineties, his job consisted mainly of looking at renderings of proposed fair buildings, but that he found quite interesting enough.
And so the stage was set for what could certainly be considered one of the 'great' world's fairs. The infrastructure was there to bring people from the four corners of the earth!, and come they did!
(to be continued)
The Alaska Pavilion at the 2059/2060 Centennial Exposition in Fairgate. Fairgate is the new Capital City that was constructed near Fairbanks.
The 2059/2060 Alaska Centennial Exposition.
(to be continued) [click to read]
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