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CityPASS Home  »  City Traveler Blog  »  Seattle Celebrates 50th Anniversary of World's Fair

City Traveler Blog

Seattle Celebrates 50th Anniversary of World's Fair

The previous 50 years brought Seattle the iconic Space Needle, futuristic symbol of the 1962 World’s Fair, and global recognition as a Pacific Northwest powerhouse in terms of innovation and culture. What will The Next Fifty bring?

According to organizers of a six-month-long commemorative event, The Next Fifty will bring competitions, performances, exhibitions and interactive learning opportunities for adults and children alike to the grounds of the Seattle Center, another legacy of the 1962 fair. Ongoing events include a community history project collecting individual recollections of the 1962 World’s Fair (add your memories at The Next Fifty).

From opening day on April 21 through October, visitors will be able to peruse an exhibit of memorabilia called Celebrating Century 21, and take walking tours of the historic 74-acre Seattle Center, “an urban park and cultural campus” built to accommodate the fair and provide a lasting gathering place for city residents and visitors. Individual activities will range from public art installations, including the largest exhibition of renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly’s work in May, to a month-long science fair at the Pacific Science Center in June, to a 10K run in August, to The Next Fifty Job Fair of the Future in September and a Pacific Northwest Tea Festival in October.

In this 50th anniversary year, a new generation of fair organizers hopes to tap into the memory of civic pride and worldwide enthusiasm that accompanied “Century 21 Exposition.” In 1962, the fair board played to the public’s fascination with Space following the Soviet’s successful launch of Sputnik. Exhibits presented science and dreams of the future as attainable for average folks. More than 10 million people attended the fair, with President John F. Kennedy providing the opening address.

In 2012, the fair board again looks forward, with themes such as global health, sustainability, science and technology, and learning focusing on areas of worldwide significance today. They hope that workshops, expositions and lecture series with experts in various fields will spark community conversations centered on these important topics. Fittingly, the six-month event culminates with an emphasis on civic action.

Rotating exhibits at the International Fountain Pavilion and Next Fifty Plaza will correspond to the various themes. And if you missed Tutankhamun on his journey around the States, you can catch him at his last North American stop when the the Pacific Science Center hosts Tutankhamun: The Golden King and The Great Pharaohs from May 24, 2012 to January 13, 2013 ($12 for CityPASS holders). Local and visiting audiences can enjoy public art displays, theatrical performances, musical entertainment, athletic demonstrations and parades throughout the six months of festivities.

Other highlights from the jam-packed roster of The Next Fifty include AVATAR: The Exhibition, an inside look at the making of James Cameron’s hit movie, a zipline over International Fountain, and a giant Seattle Works rally of volunteers. Additionally, the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) will present a series of free workshops co-hosted by Seattle Public Library, King County Library System and the Seattle Center Foundation exploring the memories, memorabilia and myths of Seattle’s 1962 World’s Fair. “The seminars will teach participants the skills needed to discover, document and distribute the fascinating histories of one of Seattle’s most influential events,” according to The Next Fifty website.

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