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.

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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.

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State reduces paper use, saves stack taller than Space Needle

July 5, 2011

The state Department of Licensing has saved enough paper during the past year to amount to a stack twice as tall as the 605-foot Space Needle.

Nearly 400,000 Washingtonians signed up for email car tab renewal reminders, and then used a couple of mouse clicks from home to renew.

The email reminders represent a large-scale effort by the licensing agency to reduce costs. The agency estimates sending paper renewal notices cost the state about $3.5 million per year.

Though the agency does not have any plans to stop sending car renewal reminders by mail to people not signed up for email alerts, officials stopped mailing all boat renewal reminders last year. Sign up for email renewals at www.dol.wa.gov.

The agency has also expanded online offerings for citizens, reducing or eliminating the need for people to travel to a driver’s licensing office. Statewide, about 220,000 people renewed driver’s licenses online last year, and the number of people requesting driving records or using other online services has skyrocketed in the past year.

Made-in-Washington attractions deliver one-of-a-kind destinations

July 2, 2011

Greetings from Washington

Washington, land of Sasquatch and the Space Needle, is unlike any other.

Evergreen State travelers can find kitchenware fit for King Kong, celebrations dedicated to unglamorous farm commodities and roadside oddities pulled from a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! guide squirreled in corners near and far.

“Washington Curiosities” and “Washington Icons” author Harriet Baskas said geography explains at least some of the strangeness.

“You’re on the edge of the country, you’re out here and there’s still that pioneer spirit,” she said.

Summertime offers a chance to journey to out-of-the-way attractions not as obvious as Mount Rainier or Lake Chelan. Discover 10 attractions off the beaten path — but unmistakably made in Washington.

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State reduces paper use, saves stack taller than Space Needle

June 5, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. June 5, 2011

The state Department of Licensing has saved enough paper during the last year to amount to a stack twice as tall the 605-foot Space Needle.

Nearly 400,000 Washingtonians signed up for email car tab renewal reminders, and then used a couple of mouse clicks from home to renew.

The email reminders represent a large-scale effort by the licensing agency to reduce costs. The agency estimates sending paper renewal notices cost the state about $3.5 million per year.

Though the agency does not have any plans to stop sending car renewal reminders by mail to people not signed up for email alerts, officials stopped mailing all boat renewal reminders last year.

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Skyline High School slashes paper use 60 percent

May 17, 2011

On average, Skyline High School uses roughly 50,000 sheets of paper per week — enough to stack 16 1/2 feet high. That translates into uprooting about six average-sized trees.

But for a week last month, the school tried something different — the school’s printers and copiers were largely silent, as staff members attempted to address large-scale paper use and go “paperless.”

During the week of April 18-22, Skyline used about 20,000 sheets, a 60 percent reduction from a typical school week, said the effort’s organizer, Librarian Elisabeth Bacon.

“It was a challenge, of course,” Library Assistant Kathi Eide said, “But it was cool.”

After the “paperless” week ended, Bacon looked at how much the school had used and said she didn’t think the school was really saving much paper.

Her pessimism was a little off, however. She monitored staff computer IP addresses to measure the use another week and saw paper use jump back up.

“I did not think it was (a success), but staff did,” Bacon said.

She said she got the idea to attempt a “paperless” week at a technology committee meeting. It was pretty simple: Because their goal is to get people to use the technology available at school, why not save paper in the process?

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Leaders kick off World’s Fair anniversary celebration

March 15, 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 March 7 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. “One of my fondest connections to the center is watching children play in the fountain that my father originally designed. 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.”

The gates to the World’s Fair — featuring the theme Century 21 — opened April 21, 1962. By the time the expo closed on Oct. 21, 1962, 10 million fairgoers had passed through the Seattle Center grounds. The fair begat the Space Needle and the Pacific Science Center.

Nowadays, 12 million people trek to Seattle Center each year, generating $1.15 billion in business activity and $387 million in labor income for King County.

The center’s 50th anniversary celebration focuses on imagination, innovation and involvement. Leaders intend to engage the community in exploring, debating and defining a collective vision for the next 50 years.

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.”

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Nisqually earthquake anniversary jolts memories

February 22, 2011

Issaquah is more prepared now than during 2001 roller

Then-Skyline High School senior Sean Edwards (left) and then-4-year-old sister Quinn leaned over to look inside the cracked asphalt Feb. 28, 2001, as dad Maury looks along a crack in the 1400 block of East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast. File

The ground started to shake as Bret Heath stood upstairs at the old municipal public works office — the steel-frame and metal-clad structure used nowadays as the parks department maintenance facility — and in seconds, the building rolled, like a ship tossed on ocean swells.

“I remember thinking, ‘I wonder if this building is going to hold together,’” the longtime Public Works Operations and emergency management director said.

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Students offer ‘reflections’ on creating a better society

January 11, 2011

Contributed Samantha Stendal’s painting ‘Together We Can Unite Our World One Step at a Time’ qualified for state competition.

For years, Samantha Stendal, a Skyline High School senior, wanted to participate in the annual Reflections art contest, but she kept missing the deadline. This time, she managed to enter and her persistence paid off. Read more

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