thumbnail of NightSight; 
     Where Were You in '62: 25th Anniversary of the Seattle World's
    Fair, Part 1
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Where were you in 62. I just looked back at the CNN World's Fair tonight. It was 25 years ago this month that Seattle opened Century 21 a spectacular World's Fair. Tonight we begin a weeklong celebration of that special anniversary. Looking back at the event that helped launch Seattle as a world class city. All this week we'll be bringing you night sight from the former fairgrounds Now of course known as the Seattle Center. We'll take you back to 1962 and to relive some of the fair's greatest moments. We'll also look at how the World's Fair has changed Seattle paving the way for new cultural institutions and galvanizing the political and business leaders and the citizens of the region. And we'll explore the future of the fair side which after a quarter of a century is due for some major
changes. Think about it. Where were you in 62. Well if you missed the fair or if you feel like reminiscing take a moment to join us as we take a trip back to Century 21. Back in the first place the freak show that really excite you when you get back to. The. Seattle USA where when the world was that and what were all these people doing here at a Real World's Fair. Well ask El Rochester. A lot of people consider him to be Century 21 is official founder. Back in 1955 he thought Seattle deserve more respect more recognition
from the rest of the world. We really were historically or or internationally. Turned way up here in the northwest. And anybody in Texas or Missouri. Or. Or. Or. Region Yeah. They were very poor. You mentioned Seattle. Rochester had worked at Seattle's Alaska Yukon exposition in 1999 and felt that fair called so much attention to the city that a 50th anniversary commemoration was in order. So Rochester a city councilman in the 50s along with a lot of other optimists began a process that lasted 70. They met they lobby they raise money and they made a World's Fair in Seattle. But it wasn't easy. The Century 21 people wanted official recognition as a World's Fair. It had to come from the Bureau of international expositions. So they sent a delegation with a slide show off to Paris. Only problem was the committee had never
heard of Seattle. Ewan doing well remembers a group of readers that were there realized that we had to put some we had to make a new beginning for the slide presentation to show them where Seattle was so they started with the slide of the whole you know the whole globe but gradually focused it on the U.S. and then a world over here on the other side of the country from Washington D.C. was this other Washington this other Washington what was it like in the late 50s. Bagley right moved here from New York around then. Everything was accessible. No no traffic jams. But it had no. President Putin had no opera no ballet no rest no speaker only couple restaurants I was the Green Room of the Olympics and catalyst that I remember in those days it hadn't been too many years. But the Seattle it had a look about a brick of the regrade was open parking lots. No buildings out there.
And there had been no buildings built in downtown Seattle since 1928. It certainly didn't look like a metropolis. And an open look and now gone forever but that's not how I was going to build it until the arrival of the Space Needle an outlandish collaboration by a group of local investors. The needle sprouted up in less than a year. Soaring over sky scraper list Seattle. It became the dominant symbol of the FAIR TO BE is the site developed into a real fairgrounds. The owners of the needle insisted on opening it a week before the fair's opening day. Bagley Wright was one of them. I want to see whether anybody would come or not. The first day we opened it the line ran out of the center and almost in the middle of Seattle I've never seen so many people in my life. The view was just unbelievable. I mean that was it. There's been no tall buildings where you live for the first time anybody been up high enough to see what's going to look like a few days before Century 21 opened you ending wall invited the world to a fare that he hoped would be a smash hit the tremendous spectacle of history making
and the whole field of world affairs. A great great show we're all very proud of there's no doubt about that. Thanks so much bring whether they'll be at the fair but opening day at the fair didn't go quite as well as the space needle's first day. L. Rochester and his wife Marguerite were at the top of the Space Needle to watch the crowds arrive. So we came down fairly early. Went up to the plate. Platform looked out at all the parking lots were empty. No cars in the parking lot. Were you worried when you looked out there. Oh I sure looked as if I got just for going to be a flop nobody's interested in news. We couldn't book couldn't believe it we couldn't believe we were she right where all the people are. And then from there the Russian there were drugs and therefore he lost the Rochester's needn't have worried. From the first day Century 21 was a hit of the nine and a half million visitors that came a surprising two out of three visited the United States science pavilion a showcase for this country's new entrants into the space
race. I think at the very moment we're previewing the official uniform for your client demonstrators are we know where we're going to grab it. Four of them critical women talk to the blue with United and U.S. insignia buttons. And of the beautiful uniform and you look very beautiful and thank you for your. And of all things art made a profit a million and a half people came to see modern and not so modern works that channel lines new buildings sits right on the edge of the Old World's Fair Grounds and we have the distinction of having inherited the site of one of the major successes of the fair. Everybody remembers it is just racy Hansen's a girl came in to see me one day. When we were organizing the fair. I. Came to see reason my name is Gracie Hanson. I'd like to have my. Entertainment for Sony at the fair. I said you would. Because I said what kind of a. Better table would you like to have. She says a girlie show.
She had these. Seven. Dressed women was an unusual to see half naked women performing in public. Oh yes oh yes. They think that kind of a journey. Prior to leaving. Just literally people standing in line would have never talked about. The kind of people. All just very very responsible civic leaders and others standing in line for the great your job. As I did myself. More than once. I think the needle was the most fun of anything because it went so quickly and success was so easy and we were making money in a way that we had no notion that we would. It was coming in so fast that once we lost the whole cycle of money they're going to mean what happened when it was kicked under the counter and somebody nobody found of the three days we do we know a sack full of money. Yes I call him I think about $5000 worth.
Would you say the fair was a booming success. Oh yes I think so. I think in every other respect to me you didn't lose money. It brought a lot of money in the community during its run. It also left a legacy of old buildings Science Center play house. Opera House it was a great experience. It was a great group of leaders and it was a daring you know the sort of brash exactly the right thing to do. Wait. All this week we'll be talking with the local
movers and shakers whose vision and hard work helped make the 1962 World's Fair a reality. Tonight's newsmaker is Eddie Carlsen. He was in charge of the St. world's fair commission from 1955 to 1962 and is referred to as the father of Century 21. In the following conversation with Crowley Carlson recalls some of the early ups and downs in planning the Seattle World's Fair. When you started out you didn't know where the fair was going to be. You didn't know what its theme was going to be. What we did century early on was that this might be an opportunity to join together and the levers of government at that at all trade levels federal state and city and with a business to be on your labor. To do something in the way. Acquiring a major site and erecting buildings which could be a permanent legacy for the. Weather community for general for generations to
come in they and the planning bit days you know who are just the first employee of the day. Of the fair organization and I went to Washington DC one time and. Talked to the secretary of the army. To see whether an odd week and. Required the use of you know Auburn deep full. Well I didn't think much of the idea and neither did we as we thought about it. Horrible horrible thought on railroad tracks and buildings out there. More serious thought was given to the use of Fort Lauderdale and that would have been a superb sight beautiful view. Plenty of land. But again when we thought of the permanent buildings which we wanted to have as the permanent legacy it didn't make any sense to put a model for a lot and I have often said if you think traffic is bad in the Seattle Center now think how horrible it would be to get out to Fort Lawton back in a inadvertent way the Russians came
to the rescue of this world's fair when they launched Sputnik in 1957. There had been no involvement at the national level. And we really had no theme we're talk about Century 21 Century 21 that's just kind of a difficult thing to merchandise the sorriest of but that time put Sputnik into orbit and that created great consternation nationwide in particular the scientific community. Jim Faber a well respected newspaper man I've been hired by the staff had been hired by the staff and he was in Washington D.C. and he took the initiative in arranging for. Center Magnussen and I to have dinner one night at the Sheraton Park Hotel. With the leaders of the National Science Foundation. It was a fascinating evening. And when.
We finished dinner a long interesting discussion. The leaders of the National Science Foundation. Said they thought it was in the national interest to. Have an exhibit in Seattle and a focus on the importance of science. And the next morning or Magnus's office started drafting the legislation. Which eventually resulted in the AMA Saki be instructed as the architect. And the construction of the beautiful. US science exhibit which is now. And has been in the last 25 years of Pacific Science Center. When April 21. 1962 finally rolled around and the fair was real. Were you secretly surprised or did you believe it was going to happen this way all along. By opening day the leaders and in this effort the broad cross-section of the community. Have been meeting.
Once or twice every week. I had breakfast meetings. The last few months. For the old me I think three or four mornings a week seven o'clock breakfast. And we we we were we had the momentum and we were committed to so far as that goes. And. We're pleased to have it open. When you walk through the doors of what used to be the old Nile temple here on the fairgrounds you're walking into a dynamic arena for the visual and performing arts. Today this is the home of the Pacific Arts Center a place for children and their parents to exercise their imaginations and their appreciation for the Arts. This place is run by a nonprofit organization and there's a lot here art classes a gallery workshops for teachers even a performance theater. You'll find the Pacific Arts Center filled with clay paint music
dance and a bunch of people dedicated to creative artistic pursuits. The Pacific Arts Center is a place where young people their parents their teachers their friends and anyone can come to celebrate the artistic achievements of both artists and of young people. Our main mission is to bring young people together with artists because of the kind of commitment and role models that an artist can before a young person to
engage them in what art making is really about and to help them grow through the vocabulary that they get from movement dance of light and dark. What a painting looks like what it can be when you try to think thing out there really isn't it. And if you. Give me. You're a good. Boy. If you're. If I'm going to get. Something you. Can. Do. The Civic Arts Center is directed by the board of
trustees and we staff it. Let the physical plant belongs to the city of Seattle. It was purchased with a bond issue and it was voted to be a center for young people in the arts. And so the city of Seattle really owns the physical structure and they have given the lease to the Pacific art center to develop the programs that have been here since the voters approved the bond issue. So it really belongs to the people wouldn't I would think. What we hope is even if they don't become artists they will become the patrons the sponsors and supporters of our wonderful arts organizations here in Seattle and in the county. And so we're really looking to the future because we care about young people and we know they can be successful. But we know that the arts will enrich their lives. With thing.
Just between you and the first could see this idea of the World's Fair somebody had the bright idea. To call Tex McCrary. He was a great New York publicist. To get him to come out and publicize the fair. McCrary is alleged to have said. In Seattle a World's Fair and Seattle. I always thought of Seattle as a place where the town prostitute had a call down the bed. One of the things that was amazing is the fact that his mare happened in all. This because there are more people that love to say something isn't quite aware than someone. Give it a chance. Are you crazy. You know that kind of talk was around and. I think that was part of. The city's sense of itself that it couldn't possibly be. A center for
great exposition as a very young woman. I would take the bus down to my job with an advertising agency in downtown Seattle and people on the bus would come by the side and you know go. It's never going to open and you know where they're not going to get me to go to that thing and then when they would see the Space Needle lying on it lying on its side before parts of it were put together I would say you're not going to get me up in that thing. And there was just a lot of like I hope it fails type of environment. I think the turning point in the. Affair. The local enthusiasm the excitement came when the building started to rise above ground. Once people saw things happening. You know. All of a sudden it was a good idea and when the ferry opened you know. You couldn't find a decenter everybody always only I was did think that was a good idea. The day that the Fair opened it looked like the Emerald City that our last King had gone in the night before. And people there were just armies of landscapers here making sure that
it was ready. I never thought it would be ready but it was I was stupid enough to walk the monorail rail itself from the center down to to the terminal. Downtown I'll never forget as as I was walking this down a bit but I want to show it was before the monorail was on. On the Tracks. It was the view and how it looked going down the reels and downtown so I'd walk and shoot some scenes and keep doing this. And I never forget when I got by the Grosvenor House. One man held the window and he says hey you going to let me sell you something coverage insurance before you continue. My job was to find out what aspect of the fair they wanted to cover and then we had press guides who were marvelous young men who were assigned to the reporters to ease the way in other words if they wanted if they needed to get up to the needle to complete their story the lines were horrendous. So we would arrange for these reporters to go up with the garbage. They would go down into the basement of the Space
Needle and then they would ride up with the garbage cans and write down with the garbage. In the beginning it was predicted. That you had to. Draw people who wanted to see a bear write a bicycle. But it didn't turn out that way at all. So I got two out of three people who attended the fair went through the Science Center the memristor was caused when Elvis Presley was here and there were so many security people involved and everyone wanted to get a glimpse of Elvis thing I noticed about him first of all was he was very polite in fact very seldom will you ever find any young man his age at that time that was as polite as he was he was and that that I thought would and I didn't think you'd be that player but he he really wasn't impressed lots of people that way. The young ladies were sure sure trying to make us all to it was kind of funny. And some of the mothers were trying just as hard as the girls to see that their daughter medals. Well I think I think I'm like a lot of other people that participated in the faire and think we're all
very proud. Of the sad. Loss a lot of people spend an awful lot of hours with out any you know expectation of any great rewards just real good feeling inside of what you hope a. Bit of fun. With. My death or for leaving it out of the fun. Remember those cabs a sort of hybrid cross between a bicycle and an open carriage. We're going to go cruising with Gary Gibson on a pedicab tour just like visitors experienced during the Seattle World's Fair. Here's Gary in the back. In 1962 I worked at the World's Fair I was a petty cab driver you know the bicycle rickshaw to take people around on tours. I was a student and it was a great job after school and in the summer. J I remember that. All the signs of that street I'm sure you want but I'll show you once not to give the
bank a thank you to the post office and you know what. It'll only cost you $5 and you won't have to lock it down. Now what do you know. When. You had to rent your cab for $18 a day and anything over that you got to keep some days you didn't make your rentals other days you get really well right. Now this is the Washington State Coliseum when you step inside here you're stepping into the next century. You ride in the bubble later to view the technology of tomorrow like a wall to wall television no doubt flip of the switch windows and look proof. You are an eyewitness to the future so this is the third circus in here they've got 52 different kinds of food goods there's food for every taste in every pocketbook there's 38 food to send home to grandma while there's even food in there the
kids only maintenance was an important function of man and his machine against BLM. But. What I remember most is the pedaling. Pedaling. Rounds aren't flat so you want to size up the load and try and start at the highest point you could. And it always seemed the heaviest people gave the smallest tips. Now over here is the fashion of the year and every day at 2 4 6 and 8 you can see the latest fashions on a beautiful model and they walk around. Tools. For you. To smell anything. It was always important to remember you were an independent businessman looking out for your own interests. Now let me get this straight you're telling me that you're going to give me all the popcorn I can eat
all I have to do is stop here. With every tour I go out and tell them this is the official World's Fair popcorn. That's right buddy. OK sounds good to me. Right. I know Seattle style. Everyone. Must see it. Well now you know a lot of people think that it rains a lot in Seattle but it's not true it's the Space Needle air it's really a giant sprinkler head you know if you don't believe you're that I don't know really the nail Lair is 600 feet high you can ride the elevator up to the observation deck of the restaurant take only one minute to get up there. Or you could walk up to a hundred thirty two steps I don't know how long it takes somebody like you to get up there. But no really seriously when you get up there sir you ride up there in the restaurant takes you one hour to make a complete revolution you see everywhere. That is day. In the campaign. Just not. You driving pedicabs was no easy job. There were always difficult situation as to.
My promise to you but I'm going for Ask him for money and my house. You're right over that mountain. His show story. It's God. It's not easy and I bet it's why you. Came to Century 21. You know if you go in there. After dark sir we can't guarantee to get yeah you know as they say here. It's all. Fair. And. Fair. By the end of some days. You were so tired you could sleep sitting in your cab. But you hated to give up because you might get another fare. I remember it just like. It was. Yesterday. Me Well hey hey are you all right. We got a check on your guys once in a while will show your face. Well make sure you're asleep but not so good. Don't want your fall over here on the films it would look to be all right. Yeah.
I want to go someplace else and take it easy there till. She. Was the World's Fair really 25 years ago. Well it's our first show on the World Fair for this week. Tomorrow Crowley reports on that famous landmark the Space Needle. We'll find out just whose idea it was to begin with. Also tomorrow we'll have a report on the renown Pacific Science Center from Leigh Hochberg And we're visiting another popular spot here. The Seattle Children's Museum Gary Gibson will introduce us to one of the most amazing collectors of World's Fair in Seattle Center memorabilia. Join us for another night of celebration. See you tomorrow. Good night. Oh boy you know. I'm on top of the needle. I would need to go bird go me. Right.
You don't believe me. Well let me tell you.
Where Were You in '62: 25th Anniversary of the Seattle World's Fair, Part 1
Producing Organization
KCTS (Television station : Seattle, Wash.)
Contributing Organization
KCTS 9 (Seattle, Washington)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/283-171vhkm4).
Episode Description
Focus Segment: Fair History - Leila Gorbman looks back to 25 years ago this month when Seattle opened Century 21, a spectacular World's Fair. Focus Segment: Newsmakers - Walt Crowley talks with Eddie Carlson, the man in charge of the state's World's Fair Commission, also known as the "Father of Century 21. Feature Segment: Pacific Arts Center - The Pacific Arts Center at Seattle Center occupies the old Nile Temple building and now serves as a center for music, dance and painting. Feature Segment: Fair People I - Vox-pop of reminiscences from fair-goers. Feature Segment: The Backbeat - Gary Gibson takes us on a pedicab tour such as visitors experienced during Seattle World's Fair.
Copyright Date
Asset type
Local Communities
Copyright 1987, The KCTS Association
Media type
Moving Image
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Director: Ko, David
Executive Producer: Mitzman, Barry
Host: Gorbman, Leila
Host: Fung, Victoria
Producer: Smith, Lisa
Producing Organization: KCTS (Television station : Seattle, Wash.)
Reporter: Gibson, Gary
Reporter: Crowley, Walt
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: NightSight: Program #2057 (tape label)
Format: Betacam
Generation: Master
Duration: 00:29:22
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “NightSight; Where Were You in '62: 25th Anniversary of the Seattle World's Fair, Part 1 ,” 1987-01-01, KCTS 9, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 30, 2023,
MLA: “NightSight; Where Were You in '62: 25th Anniversary of the Seattle World's Fair, Part 1 .” 1987-01-01. KCTS 9, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 30, 2023. <>.
APA: NightSight; Where Were You in '62: 25th Anniversary of the Seattle World's Fair, Part 1 . Boston, MA: KCTS 9, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from