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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Issaquah, King County leaders pay tribute to late Gov. Albert Rosellini

October 10, 2011

NEW — 5 p.m. Oct. 10, 2011

Issaquah leaders lowered flags at City Hall and other municipal buildings Monday to commemorate the death of former Gov. Albert D. Rosellini.

Rosellini, governor from 1957 to 1965, died Monday at 101. Gov. Chris Gregoire called for flags at public buildings across the state be lowered to half-staff.

Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger, King County Executive Dow Constantine and other local leaders offered tributes to the late governor.

“He was widely respected and regarded, I think, with affection amongst people,” Frisinger said. “I saw a very long and full life.”

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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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Cougar Mountain and the Cold War connection

June 29, 2010

Missiles atop peak defended region against Soviet threat

President Kennedy had a bad cold.

The leader of the free world begged off public appearances in October 1962, blaming a respiratory infection. Kennedy skipped a planned appearance in Seattle to close the Century 21 World’s Fair.

Except, the president had no cold, bad or otherwise.

The discovery of Soviet missiles in Cuba pushed the United States and the Soviet Union — both nuclear-armed superpowers — to the edge of annihilation. The ersatz illness provided a ruse for Kennedy to duck the limelight and address the crisis.

U.S. military installations around the globe operated at heightened alert in case a spark ignited the Cold War flashpoint.

Sidewalks that connected barracks 50 years ago at Cougar Mountain's Radar Park are among the few signs that remain of the Nike Ajax Integrated Fire Control radar site, now a King County park. By Greg Farrar

High above tiny Issaquah, anti-aircraft missiles sat poised on Cougar Mountain. Installed less than a decade earlier, the system had been devised to protect the Puget Sound region in case bombers came screaming across the Bering Strait from the Soviet Union.

The program debuted in the late 1950s as a technological triumph — the first operational, surface-to-air guided missile system used by U.S. forces.

The military positioned more than 200 Nike Ajax installations nationwide — including 13 around Puget Sound — near major cities and key military and industrial sites as a last line of defense against a Soviet air attack. The missile network defended the economic and political center of the Pacific Northwest, as well as Boeing aircraft factories, shipyards and military installations.

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Village Theatre presents a bold, fresh ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’

November 17, 2009

Clockwise from left, Ryah Nixon (Esther Smith), John David Scott (Lon Smith Jr.), Katie Griffith (Agnes Smith), Analiese Emerson Guettinger (Tootie Smith) and Bryan Tramontana (Rose Smith) share a scene together in Village Theatre’s production of ‘Meet Me in St. Louis.’ By Jay Koh/property of

Clockwise from left, Ryah Nixon (Esther Smith), John David Scott (Lon Smith Jr.), Katie Griffith (Agnes Smith), Analiese Emerson Guettinger (Tootie Smith) and Bryan Tramontana (Rose Smith) share a scene together in Village Theatre’s production of ‘Meet Me in St. Louis.’ By Jay Koh/property of

“Thump, thump, thump, went my heartstrings” as Village Theatre’s energetic holiday cast of “Meet Me In St. Louis” gave audiences the musical equivalent of perfection wrapped under the Christmas tree.

Drenched in dazzling lace and lush velvet dresses, women twirled about by men clad in seersucker and linen suits and a rich wood-paneled Victorian home, set close to the stage’s edge, sucked me inside the Smith family’s 1904 St. Louis home.

Scene three was barely over and I was hooked.

The show’s details are what recreate a feeling of a simpler life and time, but it’s the incredibly well-selected cast and ensemble of 26 that makes this show shine and stand apart from a beloved film, familiar to so many.

With a fresh face and bold vocals, 22-year-old Ryah Nixon returns to Village Theatre in the role of Esther Smith. Her last role at the theater was as Princess Amneris in “Aida” during the 2007-2008 season.

Reprising one of Judy Garland’s most well-known roles, Nixon’s high energy electrifies the stage and her portrayal of Smith, a young woman struck by love, is spot on and full of youth’s innocent exuberance. Read more

Holidays arrive early in ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’

November 3, 2009

Ryah Nixon, as Esther Smith (left), and Jason Kappus, as John Truitt, converse as (back, from left) Katie Griffith, as Agnes Smith, and Analiese Emerson Guettinger as Tootie Smith, look on, in the Village Theatre production of  ‘Meet Me In St. Louis.’ By John Pal/Village Theatre

Ryah Nixon, as Esther Smith (left), and Jason Kappus, as John Truitt, converse as (back, from left) Katie Griffith, as Agnes Smith, and Analiese Emerson Guettinger as Tootie Smith, look on, in the Village Theatre production of ‘Meet Me In St. Louis.’ By John Pal/Village Theatre

It’s time to deck the halls and stoke the hearth — the holidays are coming to Village Theatre.

Village Theatre’s cast and crew are taking audiences back to a time when horse and buggies were the mode of travel, home telephones were still novel, the World’s Fair was on the tips of all tongues and first love was anything but easy.

Welcome to St. Louis in 1904 as Village Theatre presents “Meet Me in St. Louis,” Nov. 11 through Jan. 3.

“The holidays are time for family. It’s a time when people think about their families, going home or having people over. The holidays are a time to reconnect with family,” said Steve Tomkins, artistic director for Village Theatre. “Really, what this show is about is the interaction of the family.

“It is delightful and energizing.” Read more

Off The Press

July 7, 2009

Pizzeria gets Italian seal of approval

Warren Kagarise Press Reporter

Warren Kagarise Press Reporter

City leaders, so fond of the sister city relationships Issaquah forged with cities in Morocco and Norway, might want to consider extending the olive branch to a municipality in Italy.

Though city officials might be too late. Ambassadors from Naples, birthplace of pizza, have already forged ties to Issaquah.

How? With pizza, of course.

Issaquah staked claim to specialty pies last month when Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria and Zeeks Pizza opened within a day of each other. Read more

Depot Museum unveils display on Seattle’s first world’s fair

June 16, 2009

Original postcards of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition depict  the ‘Pay Streak’ arcade boulevard and a roller coaster

Original postcards of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition depict the ‘Pay Streak’ arcade boulevard and a roller coaster ontributed by Greg Spranger

Long before the Space Needle pointed skyward and a monorail whisked passengers downtown, Seattle hosted one of the most successful world’s fairs, the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. The event’s centennial is being commemorated this summer at the Issaquah Depot Museum.

Greg Spranger, world’s fair enthusiast and executive director of the DownTown Issaquah Association, loaned AYPE memorabilia to the museum. His collection includes souvenirs from the four-and-a-half month event. Postcards depict fair scenes in vivid detail; snow-capped Mount Rainier is the only distinguishing characteristic of the Seattle skyline.
The exposition attracted more than 3.7 million visitors to the then-tiny University of Washington campus. Many Issaquah residents rode trains into Seattle to participate in the fair.
“It was a huge, huge success,” Spranger said.
The successful exposition was a precursor to the successful 1962 World’s Fair, which begat the Space Needle and the Seattle Center Monorail.
Visitors to the depot museum have an opportunity to view century-old AYPE souvenirs and other artifacts throughout the summer.
The exposition lasted from June 1-Oct. 16, 1909. President William Howard Taft opened the event from Washington, D.C., by pressing a gold telegraph key.
At the same moment Taft opened the fair, racers set off from New York to Seattle in a cross-country auto race. A Ford Model T won the race, but was later disqualified after organizers learned the race team changed the car’s engine at a stop along the more than 3,800-mile route.
“They could, because there were a lot of little Ford dealerships popping up across the United States,” Spranger said.
Model T enthusiasts are re-enacting the race in honor of the centennial. Dozens of Model Ts will stop at the depot museum overnight July 10. Spranger said organizers plan to hold a barbecue to welcome the travelers to town.
Spranger said he started collecting AYPE memorabilia more than two decades ago “on a fluke” when he happened upon souvenirs at an antiques show.
“What is this?” he recalled. “I had to know more about it.”
Today, his collection includes postcards, medallions, ashtrays and hard-to-find silk handkerchiefs embroidered with the exposition logo — three women from the United States, the Yukon and Japan. Among Spranger’s finds is a handmade invitation to the opening gala, painted with delicate watercolor flowers.
He said the success of the exposition is even more impressive because Seattle was far from major cities of the era, yet the fair was still able to attract visitors in droves.
“A hundred years ago, we put on one of the largest world’s fairs anywhere,” Spranger said.
Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

Long before the Space Needle pointed skyward and a monorail whisked passengers downtown, Seattle hosted one of the most successful world’s fairs, the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. The event’s centennial is being commemorated this summer at the Issaquah Depot Museum.

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