Marks and Remarks
Food for the Mind and Eye

No. 0007, January 27, 2015


Collecting World Fairs

      It all started in 1962, the year of the Seattle World Fair. Actually, we have to go back to 1851, the year of the great International Exposition in London. It was the first of its kind and set the standards for all the World Expositions (later called Fairs) that followed. The next one was in Paris in 1867 but it wasn't until 1889, for the tenth World Exposition and the third one in Paris, that the Eiffel Tower was built. The World Expositions or Fairs became established as colossal global extravagazas showcasing world's goods, accomplishments and aspirations. The Seattle Fair (the twenty fifth) was less than colossal, in fact it was the most modestly scaled World Fair ever, but it was charming and still grand leaving a permanent mark on the city's skyline: the famous Space Needle which featured the world's first revolving restaurant at the top. I have eaten there during the Fair and submit as proof the photos I took from below and from my seat by the window. The restaurant revolves at one rph and we stayed there for three leisurely and delicious revolutions. It was my first World Fair.

Copyright 2015 by S. W. Paul Wyszkowski

Copyright 2015 by S. W. Paul Wyszkowski

      There was another modestly scaled World Fair in 1965 in New York. I happened to be in New York during the Fair and I went there a couple of times, not long enough really to take much of it in. Nevertheless, it counted as a visit and according to the principle I observed at the time, two of anything is a start of an obligatory collection, so I was now obliged to start collecting World Fairs.

      As it happened, the next World Fair was a biggie: the 1967 World Fair in Montreal, celebrating Canada's Centennary. It was called Expo '67 and since then all the World Fairs have been nicknamed "Expos". It was huge and situated on two islands in the middle of St. Lawrence River facing downtown Montreal. I got a season pass and attended the Expo every weekend from its opening in May to its closing in October. No photos survive (that's another story) but I attach a photo from a book about World Fairs. Note the upside down pyramid in the background - it's the "Katimavik", the centerpiece of the Expo.

Copyright 2015 by S. W. Paul Wyszkowski

      The next World Fair was in Osaka in 1970 - travel to Japan was out of my budget then. I skipped Seville and Hanover as well, but then in 1986 the Fair returned to Canada, to Vancouver. Made that one. It was also rather modest - no pictures survive. My chief memory is the pair of "Sole-suckers" strapless stick-on sandals I picked up in the Australian pavillion. Wore them throughout my visit but the adhesive didn't last much beyond that - it picked up dirt and lost its stickum. I was never able to restore it.

      There followed a dry period Expowise, for various reasons. Expos are now spaced once every five years and the next one that came to my attention was Expo 2010 in Shanghai. I was now in a position to venture across the Pacific and Expo 2010 was touted as the most colossal ever (3 square miles, $50 billion to construct, 50 million visitors). I had to see that. So I did, sort of. Expo 2010 defeated me. I could not manage it even in the seven days I had scheduled for it. I did what I could. Highlights: best Japanese dinner I ever had, an excellent Polish dinner (at the Polish pavillion). Did not like Shanghainese food. Anyway, it was interesting. The picture below is of the Chinese pavilion (I could not get into it, no chance at all). Notice something familiar about it?

Copyright 2015 by S. W. Paul Wyszkowski

      Expo 2015 is in Milan. I'll be there. It's about 1/3 the size of Expo 2010 which is just fine by me. The theme is, wait for it, FOOD. OMG. In Italy. Anyway, virtual 3D tours of the site and live videos taken from drones cruising the site suggest it could be an interesting one. I have scheduled four days and I'm bringing a foldable travel chair. I hope to get more out of this Expo than the Shanghai one. I believe Italians will be better organized. For one there is a strict limit on maximum daily attendance allowed which there wasn't in Shanghai. On the other hand they do expect 25 million people to attend. We'll see.

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