The Exposition Universelle of 1889
For the grand entrance of the Exposition Universelle in Paris, Gustave Eiffel and his firm, Eiffel et Compagnie, designed a three-leveled, 1,063-foot wrought iron tower. Selected from over 1,000 entries, the Eiffel Tower was built in homage to the French Revolution.
The Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915
From February 20 through December 4, 1915, the Panama-Pacific International Exposition was held in San Francisco. Though officially intended to mark the completion of the Panama Canal, this fair also celebrated the city’s remarkable recovery following a devastating earthquake in 1906.
When they weren’t marveling at the first transcontinental telephone call or admiring the on-loan Liberty Bell, visitors spent their time “strolling down wide boulevards, attending scientific and educational presentations, ‘traveling’ to international pavilions and enjoying thrilling displays of sports, racing, music and art” (National Park Service).
The 1964 World’s Fair
In 1964, the World’s Fair was held in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, New York. Thematically based on “Peace Through Understanding,” the spectacle showcased the achievements of 80 nations and 24 US states. It also featured pools, carnival rides, and fountains.
This edition of the world’s fair is where Walt Disney debuted his Audio-Animatronics. These technologically-advanced robots were featured in four shows: ‘Ford’s Magic Skyway,’ ‘Progressland,’ ‘Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln,’ and ‘It’s a Small World.’ Disney would eventually bring all of these attractions to Disneyland, with the particularly popular ‘Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln’ and ‘It’s a Small World’ remaining at the resort today.
The World’s Fair Today
Every few years, the world’s fair continues to inspire the public through two types of events: small Specialized Expos and the larger World Expos. Though the attractions have undoubtedly changed since London’s Great Exhibition, these spectacles continue to highlight industrial advancements, entertain audiences, and unite individuals from cultures all around the world.