October 2, 2012
In the heady months from April to October 1962, more celebrities visited the Century 21 Exposition than “The Tonight Show” couch.
The boldface names — Walt Disney, George Burns, John Glenn and dozens more — trekked to Seattle to gape at the Space Needle, ride the Bubbleator and snack on a Belgian waffle. Even Lassie came to the fair.
In the hubbub, longtime Issaquah resident Kaaren Mathiesen sold souvenirs at the fair from a booth near the Food Circus, a global food court and a nucleus of activity.
Funnywoman Carol Channing stopped at the booth to purchase a postcard and on another day Mathiesen sold Liberace a giant postcard to send to his brother.
“I kept very calm, cool and collected, but I sure smiled a lot,” she said in a recent interview.
The fair ran 50 years ago, from April 21 to Oct. 21, and by the end, Mathiesen and other local residents involved in the once-in-a-lifetime event said the Century 21 Exposition reshaped the region.
“It brought people to the realization that Seattle was no longer a little fishing village,” she said. “It put us on the map.”
September 12, 2012
NEW — 2 p.m. Sept. 12, 2012
King County leaders praised the proposed agreement between Seattle City Council members and the lead investor behind a proposal to build a sports-and-entertainment arena in Seattle.
Seattle leaders announced revisions to the proposed arena deal Tuesday. King County Council members approved the arena proposal July 30, but any changes adopted by the Seattle City Council must go to the King County Council for approval.
“This is a great sign of progress. I always felt this proposal presented a win-win opportunity to bring back our Sonics, secure an NHL team and address the existing transportation issues south of downtown,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement.
July 31, 2012
Dozens of artists turned pavement into colorful canvases at the Chalk Art Festival on the Issaquah Community Center grounds.
April 10, 2012
The region is in the midst of a back-to-the-future moment.
The 1962 Century 21 Exposition opened a half-century ago and transformed Seattle and surrounding communities. Paula Becker and Alan Stein, staff historians for HistoryLink.org, chronicled the expo in the book “The Future Remembered: The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and Its Legacy” — a retrospective commissioned by Seattle Center and the Seattle Center Foundation.
The authors plan to lead a discussion about the book April 14 at the Issaquah Library.
Organizers originally scheduled the library event for Jan. 17, but a snowstorm led to a delay. Now, Becker and Stein plan to hold the event a week before the 50th anniversary, as Century 21 nostalgia grows as thick as a Belgian waffle.
April 21 marks 50 years since President John F. Kennedy tapped a telegraph key encrusted in golden nuggets to open the fair. The expo lasted until Oct. 21, 1962.
March 27, 2012
Reid Malmquist is the king of ventures
When it comes to entrepreneurship, Reid Malmquist is king.
Before the tender age of 17, Malmquist has launched more businesses than most people do in a lifetime — and he’s been successful. Malmquist does an array of things that include website design, programming and photography.
Malmquist’s first venture was Voomo, a social networking site. A friend and Malmquist developed the site and then realized they didn’t have the capacity to truly get it to where they wanted it. They sold it for more than $500.
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.
March 6, 2012
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.
February 21, 2012
Fair predicted a brave new world 50 years ago
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.
February 21, 2012
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.
February 21, 2012
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.