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Remembering the Seattle World’s Fair

The Space Needle was built for the Century 21 Exposition held in Seattle, Washington in 1962.

I saw a program on Public Television recently (Yup, I do watch it–I keep hoping I can become an investigator on “History Detectives”) on the Seattle World’s Fair of 1962.

It was, I suspect, produced by a public TV station in Seattle, but it hit home for me because I’ve been to the former fairgrounds twice, many years apart.

The program covered a lot of what went into the “Century 21 Exposition” in a city that was trying to raise its profile. There were many movers and shakers who thought it could be done and they got it done, making a lasting mark on Seattle with its look at life in the future. It was, after all, the dawning of the Space Age.

Of course, the most visible of those lasting marks is the Space Needle, which not everyone was wild about back in ’62. But when you think of Seattle now, you think of the Spade Needle–iconic then and iconic now.

The site of the World’s Fair is now called Seattle Center, an area dedicated to activities, the arts, education and more.

The first time I was there was in 1967, with hundreds of other teenagers, for a national Luther League convention. Such events are still held every three years, same as they were then, but “Luther League” was dropped long ago. Still, it was a central part of my teenage years and I remember much of it vividly.

The other time I visited Seattle Center was ten years ago, when Sharon and I spent several days in Seattle. Sure enough, Seattle Center is still there, and it’s still impressive, at least to me. People everywhere, all enjoying themselves.

The Seattle World’s Fair lasted six months, and many of the people who had a connection to it talked about what a letdown they felt when it was all over.

Back in 1967, it was a letdown for all of us that our convention was over and what we had to look forward to was a long bus ride home to Eastern South Dakota.

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