World’s Fairs

Reflections from Lileks.

We went to New York in 1965 and Montreal in 1967. I remember on the way back from the latter we had to pull over and duck in a ditch for a tornado between Port Huron and Flint. New York had some things that later went to Disneyland, including the wretched “It’s A Small World.

I also went to Vancouver in the 80s, but don’t recall the year. I was particularly amused by the Romanian Pavilion (this was before the fall of the communists) that claimed they’d invented the airplane in 1906.

7 thoughts on “World’s Fairs”

  1. My first full time job was at Hemisphere 68 in San Antonio. I worked games that summer and after school into the fall. I was 11 with my 12th birthday just before it closed down.

    I still remember the computer game that people lined up to play. Tic-Tac-Toe believe it or not.

  2. I went to the fair in Vancouver also. As to the Romanians, maybe? Although at first glance I read Romulans. The Brazilians claim Santos Dumont invented the airplane. We claim the Wright brothers, but who really knows for sure who was first. Just because its written in our history books doesn’t make it true.

    1. The Wright Brothers developed the first fully reusable airplane, that is one that could take off, land, and then take off again without collecting all the pieces from the last landing.

    2. Maybe because the Wright plane actually existed and they went on to build more? Maybe not “first” but the first that mattered.

      1. There is more to it than that.

        Of all of the contemporaneous first flights, the Wright Flyer was demonstrating a high degree of maneuverability at a time when it was a big deal to take off and land shortly thereafter along a straight-line path.

        Now the flight control setup would be foreign to any person today with a Private Pilot-Land certificate, and maybe it took a sort of skill in coordinated operation of controls akin to operating a helicopter to do the impressive maneuvers it could do.

        By modern standards, it was dangerous to operate. A PA-28 Warrior with benign stall characteristics and compensated aileron deflection that you didn’t need to do anything with the rudder pedals it was not. But the ergonomics of the flight controls would be refined. The important thing is that it could maneuver in a way that contemporaneous aircraft could not.

  3. My family also went to Expo 67 in Montreal. The Six-Day War occurred and concluded during our two weeks there. The pavilions of the Maghreb nations all closed when that started, greatly annoying my father who had spent the first few days of our sojourn visiting all of them to retrace his peregrinations in North Africa during WW2. Postwar modification of national borders resulted in certain places he had been being in different countries in 1967 than they had been in 1942-3. My favorite thing at the Expo was riding the enormous British hovercraft that traversed between disconnected bits of the Expo territory.

  4. I was selected to go on a student exchange program that allowed me to go from Ontario to Expo 67 in Montreal. That World’s Fair was huge in Canada because it was the Centennial celebration for the country. Sadly, little did we know that the Trudeaus (Pierre and later Justin) would be hugely successful in almost totally erasing the country’s history.

    I didn’t know it at the time, but the fair’s most iconic building, an upside down pyramid, would impact me in an unexpected way later in life, as I got to know its architect very well.

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