The Century 21 Exposition, also known as the Seattle World’s Fair, was held from April 21, 1962, until October 21, 1962. Over 10 million people attended the fair. The Space Needle and the Alweg monorail are relics of this historical exposition.
The Century 21 Exposition was originally planned in 1955 to honor the 50 anniversary of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, but there was not enough time for preparation. Instead, amidst the space race, with Boeing having turned Seattle into a major city, a major theme of the fair was to show that “the United States was not ‘behind’ the Soviet Union in scientific development.” Space, science, and the future trumped the earlier conception of a “Festival celebrating the West.”
The grounds of the fair were divided into:
World of Science centered on the United States Science Exhibit. It also included a NASA Exhibit that included models and mockups of various satellites, as well as the Project Mercury capsule that had carried Alan Shepard into space. These exhibits were the federal government’s major contribution to the fair.
World of Century 21 (also known as World of Tomorrow), had exhibits of future transportation (centered on a monorail and high-speed “air cars” on an electrically controlled highway). There was also an “office of the future”, a climate-controlled “farm factory”, an automated offshore kelp and plankton harvesting farm, a vision of the schools of the future with “electronic storehouses of knowledge”, and a vision of the many recreations that technology would free humans to pursue.
World of Commerce and Industry contained exhibits ranging from 32 separate furniture companies to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Vogue produced four fashion shows daily alongside a perfumed pool. The Ford Motor Company, in its pavilion, presented a simulated space flight and its vision for the car of the future, the Ford Seattle-ite XXI. The Electric Power Pavilion included a 40 feet (12 m)-high fountain made to look like a hydroelectric dam, with the entrance to the pavilion through a tunnel in said “dam”
World of Art contained art from many prominent contemporary national and international artists as well as 72 “masterpieces” ranging from Titian, El Greco, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Rubens through Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet, and Turner to Klee, Braque, and Picasso.
World of Entertainment was a $15 million performing-arts program at the fair which ranged from a boxing championship to an international twirling competition.There were many nationally and internationally famous performers, especially at the new Opera House and Playhouse.
Show Street was the ‘adult entertainment’ section of the fair.
The Gayway, a small amusement park.
Boulevards of the World was “the shopping center of the fair”. It also included the Plaza of the States and the original version of the International Fountain.
Exhibit Fair was another shopping district.
Food and Favors, which ranged from vending machines and food stands to the Eye of the Needle (atop the Space Needle) and the private Century 21 Club.
Food Circus, which had 52 concessionaires in all, nine of them with exhibits in addition to their food for sale.