The History of World Expositions

The Seattle World Exposition 1962 and the New York World Exposition 1964
Rockets and Nuclear Power Plants

Year: 1962
City: Seattle
Country: USA
Duration: 21th April - 21th October 1962


As in Seattle 1962, the world exposition in New York 1964/65 was an ideal platform for the new space travel industry. Almost everywhere the contributions of national organisations, companies and the Department of Defence towards space exploration could be marvelled at. All rockets developed in the States and many satellites were displayed in the Space Park. The visitors were shot into orbit in simulated take-offs, multimedia shows about rocket flights and artificial moonscapes.

With the same drive the big power plant manufacturers and operators demonstrated the benefits of the nuclear power era. General Electric presented the history of electricity in a Disney designed show that culminated in an artificial nuclear fusion. In an extremely strong magnetic field a temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius was created for the fraction of a second by a fusion of Deuterium nuclei. Disney’s animated puppets were tested for the first time on a big scale. In the State of Illinois pavilion a Lincoln puppet quoted excerpts from speeches of the American President. Similar animation was used in Disney Parks later. The most successful pavilion of the World’s Fair was also the largest, General Motors’ Futurama. More than 29 million visitors wanted a glimpse of the City of Future. In General Motors’ Futurama of 1939 the superhighways of the sixties had been optimistically imagined but now a prediction for the 21. century had to be made. For the modern Futurama up-to-date architectural forms, a curved giant screen and a restaurant looking like a science fiction space ship were put together. As in 1939, the visitors were guided through a model landscape on movable seats with speakers. But this time they went from a research station in the Antarctica to the depths of the ocean and even to a space station. Boldly constructed mega-cities and concrete highways almost floating in the air characterised this vision of the future. In this landscape was no space for primeval forest, a huge ‘forest roads construction machine’ got rid of nature in one step: it cleared the trees with laser cannons, levelled the terrain and left a ready made road behind it.

The Radio Corporation of America offered – like 1939 – a technological innovation in the TV sector. This time R.C.A. transmitted the World’s Fair opening by President Lyndon B. Johnson in colour to the whole world. Therefore the whole world could see that with bad weather and under pressure from civil rights groups disappointingly few visitors had come to Queens. At any rate, a few foreign heads of state visited the Fair: The Shah of Persia, the President of Korea and the Egyptian Prime Minister. And also Pope Paul VI. came to Flushing Meadows on his first visit to the States. The surely most valuable exhibit stood in the Vatican pavilion: the Pieta by Michelangelo from the Cathedral St Peter in Rome.

EXPOSEEUM - The Museum of World Exhibitions, Hanover, Expo Plaza 11
Open every Sunday from 11 to 16