Wanted: Locals’ 1962 Seattle World’s Fair memories

April 3, 2012

April 21 marks 50 years since the Century 21 Exposition opened — and transformed the Puget Sound region.

Though the fair unfolded 17 miles east, on the Seattle Center grounds, Issaquah residents headed to the expo in hordes.

Some Issaquah residents spent a summer working at the fair. Many more residents crossed Lake Washington to experience the fair’s futuristic fun.

Issaquah also greeted travelers as the Century 21 Exposition at a tourism station along U.S. Route 10, a precursor to Interstate 90.

Now, as the fair’s 50th anniversary approaches, The Issaquah Press is seeking Century 21 memories from local residents for upcoming coverage of the milestone.

Email your contact information to editor@isspress.com by April 18, or contact the newspaper on Twitter at www.twitter.com/issaquahpress, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/issaquahpress.

Wanted: Locals’ 1962 Seattle World’s Fair memories

March 27, 2012

April 21 marks 50 years since the Century 21 Exposition opened — and transformed the Puget Sound region.

Though the fair unfolded 17 miles east, on the Seattle Center grounds, Issaquah residents headed to the expo in hordes.

Some Issaquah residents spent a summer working at the fair. Many more residents crossed Lake Washington to experience the fair’s futuristic fun.

Issaquah also greeted travelers as the Century 21 Exposition at a tourism station along U.S. Route 10, a precursor to Interstate 90.

Now, as the fair’s 50th anniversary approaches, The Issaquah Press is seeking Century 21 memories from local residents for upcoming coverage of the milestone.

Email your contact information to editor@isspress.com by April 18, or contact the newspaper on Twitter at www.twitter.com/issaquahpress, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/issaquahpress.

Event benefits Space Needle Space Race semifinalist

March 13, 2012

Issaquah Brewhouse customers can help a local man blast off on a suborbital flight — and fulfill a childhood dream.

The downtown pub is hosting a public event at 5 p.m. March 15 to support Issaquah resident Saurabh Saxena, a semifinalist in the Space Needle Space Race 2012 — a contest to launch a civilian on a suborbital flight. The software programmer is among 20 contenders in the contest.

The brewhouse, 35 W. Sunset Way, plans to set up computers for patrons to cast Facebook votes for Saxena, who plans to make a short speech at the event.

Watch Saxena’s Space Needle Space Race 2012 entry video and vote at the Space Needle’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/spaceneedle. The voting is open until March 18.

Executives from the Space Needle and Space Adventures, a Virginia-based space tourism outfit, partnered to offer the contest to celebrate the structure’s anniversary.

Saxena dreamed of space travel as a boy growing up in India.

Issaquah man is semifinalist in Space Needle competition to blast off on celestial adventure

March 6, 2012

Saurabh Saxena, of Issaquah, has made it from 50,000 entrants into a group of 20 semifinalists trying to earn a trip into space in a contest held for the 50th anniversary of the Space Needle and Seattle’s Century 21 Exposition. By Greg Farrar

The next space race is not between rival governments. Instead, the competition to blast off is among regular Joes and Janes.

Issaquah resident Saurabh Saxena, 40, is among 20 semifinalists in the Space Needle Space Race 2012 — a contest to launch a civilian on a suborbital flight.

Saxena and other semifinalists created videos for the public to watch and then vote on top candidates. The longtime amateur astronomer said the contest offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“No matter what the result is, whether I get selected or not, being enthusiastic and doing what your heart says is something I’ve learned,” he said. “Everything you do, you have to put your best in.”

Even though organizers already tallied more than 17,000 votes, fewer than 15 votes separated some semifinalists March 5. In the meantime, acquaintances and friends mobilized to support Saxena as the March 18 deadline approaches.

Read more

Off the Press

February 21, 2012

Fair predicted a brave new world 50 years ago

Warren Kagarise Press reporter

From a standpoint 50 years later and a dozen years into the 21st century, some ideas — flying cars, outer space colonies — presented at the Century 21 Exposition seem more quaint than far-fetched.

The idea of Greater Seattle as a technology hub, however, lingers long after the world’s fair closed in October 1962.

For a piece in the wintertime Issaquah Living magazine, I set out to collect local fairgoers’ memories from the heady days before and during the Century 21 Exposition. (Readers can find the magazine tucked amid the sales circulars in the B section.)

I heard the same question again and again from colleagues, family and friends as I reported the piece: “Do cities still put on world’s fairs?”

The answer is yes. Shanghai hosted Expo 2010 and Expo 2012 is scheduled to open in Yeosu, South Korea, in May.

Read more

Tomorrow turns 50: Century 21 Exposition, space-age celebration, reshaped region a half-century ago

February 21, 2012

In early Century 21 Exposition concept art, circa 1961, the monorail hangs from a rail rather than gliding along a track. MOHAI, Walter Straley Century 21 Exposition Photograph Collection

Opportunities seemed endless as Seattle prophesized a sleek future at the 1962 Century 21 Exposition.

In the years before the fair opened a half-century ago, local leaders imagined the fairgrounds along Lake Sammamish. Envision, as entrepreneurs dared to do in the late ’50s, Lake Sammamish State Park as a site for the still-embryonic exposition.

The fairgrounds showcase Cougar Mountain as a backdrop for the Space Needle. Or, rather than the bubbling International Fountain, placid Lake Sammamish defines the landscape. The monorail, all Swedish design and German engineering, connects suburban cities, not Seattle neighborhoods.

Organizers considered, if only for a moment, a fair situated amid farmland and forests, perhaps a Festival of the West set in Issaquah, a former frontier settlement.

“What if it had been in Issaquah?” asked Lorraine McConaghy, public historian for the Seattle-based Museum of History & Industry, or MOHAI. “What if 10 million people had come to Issaquah between May and October of 1962?”

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce leaders proposed the then-300-acre state park as a possible fair site in July 1958, as boosters from the Puget Sound region urged organizers to consider locations outside Seattle.

Read more

Tomorrow turns 50: In 1962, Issaquah residents crossed Lake Washington for fair’s futuristic fun

February 21, 2012

Diners enjoy drinks — and a now-forbidden smoke — in the Eye of the Needle revolving restaurant atop the Space Needle. MOHAI, Milkie Studio Collection

The distance from Issaquah to the future measured a mere 17 miles.

In 1962, as the Century 21 Exposition greeted fairgoers from the United States and beyond, residents from Issaquah — then home to about 3,000 people — crossed Lake Washington from April 21 to Oct. 21 for the Space Age fair.

Nowadays, 50 years after the spectacle at Seattle Center closed, memories remain as clear as the Bubbleator dome. The fair introduced countless palates to strawberry-topped Belgian waffles and tempted millions of guests to brave the maze inside the IBM Pavilion.

“Everybody went to the fair,” said Lorraine McConaghy, public historian for the Seattle-based Museum of History & Industry, or MOHAI. “It was not just an urban phenomenon. It was a regional phenomenon.”

The iconic Space Needle — then painted in Technicolor hues — and the Bubbleator left lasting impressions on locals. The bubble-shaped elevator carried fairgoers to exhibits inside the Washington State Coliseum.

Read more

Tomorrow turns 50: Issaquah greeted travelers en route to the fair

February 21, 2012

Issaquah, a way station on the route to the 21st century, opened the city to travelers as the Century 21 Exposition greeted almost 10 million fairgoers.

In 1962, the fair also came to Issaquah in a sense, after Issaquah Chamber of Commerce leaders established a fair information booth along U.S. Route 10, a pulsing artery stretched from the Midwest to the Northwest.

Inside the A-frame structure, 168 volunteers offered fair facts and Evergreen State greetings for 12 hours each day from May 12 to Sept. 30. In August, as the fair readied for its 5 millionth guest, Issaquah residents greeted the 5,000th traveler to stop at the booth.

The booth hosted representatives from all 50 states and 28 foreign nations. Organizers could arrange accommodations for fairgoers from Issaquah via a direct telephone line to the lodging center at the exposition.

“People became aware of Issaquah” through the information center, longtime Issaquah resident Dick Campbell said. “We were something other than a farming-logging-mining community.”

Book about 1962 World’s Fair resurrects memories for local teacher, expo’s 9 millionth visitor

January 10, 2012

 Paula Jones, fifth-grade teacher at Sunset Elementary School, holds the sign she still has from Oct. 14, 1962, when the 6-year-old Paula Dahl set a Century 21 Exposition milestone near the end of the Seattle World’s Fair. By Greg Farrar 

The future envisioned in 1962 resembled something lifted from “The Jetsons” — space-age cool, conveniences galore and optimism as boundless as the cosmos.

April marks 50 years since the Century 21 Exposition opened on the Seattle Center grounds, brought the vision to life and transformed the region.

Paula Becker and Alan Stein, staff historians for HistoryLink.org, collected memories from the fair in the book “The Future Remembered: The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and Its Legacy” — a comprehensive account of Century 21. The authors plan to lead a discussion about the book and present a slideshow of fair images Jan. 17 at the Issaquah Library.

Seattle civic leaders intended to use the fair to stimulate the economy and create a cultural and social hub in Seattle Center.

“Seattle certainly wouldn’t be what it is today” if the fair did not happen, Becker said.

The authors also produced a book about the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition — a seminal moment in Seattle history and the inaugural world’s fair hosted in the city.

Read more

King County leaders kick off World’s Fair anniversary celebration

March 9, 2011

NEW — 2 p.m. March 9, 2011

King County Council members offered some World’s Fair nostalgia in recognizing Seattle Center as host to the 1962 expo.

The council issued the recognition Monday to kick off the celebration leading to the World’s Fair’s 50th anniversary in April 2012.

“Seattle Center has a special personal connection for most King County residents, as it serves as the region’s gathering place,” Councilman Larry Phillips said in a release. (Phillips’ district includes Seattle Center.)

“One of my fondest connections to the center is watching children play in the fountain that my father originally designed,” he continued. “The center’s 50th anniversary commemoration is an opportunity to reminisce about the rich history of Seattle Center and the World’s Fair, as well as envision the center’s future.”

Read more

« Previous Page