The Final Days of the World’s Fair

One personal reaction to the Science Pavilion is in the incredible air of serenity and peacefulness just listening to the fountains and looking up at the sky through the Arches of Science, each arch representing one of the five major scientific fields: Astronomy, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Life Sciences, and Physics. The arches are visual landmarks from all across the south slope of Queen Anne Hill.Late August turned to September and the fairgrounds were filled with larger and larger crowds. The arrival of Elvis Presley and entourage to film “It Happened at the World’s Fair” turned the area into an “Elvis-Watch.” My sister took time off from work to follow the film makers around the grounds, taking candid shots of Elvis and eventually working up the nerve to ask for his autograph and receive three hand signatures on small pieces of paper shoved through the fence which separated the film crew from the adoring fans. If you watch the film you will see other ties to Queen Anne, as Jackie Souders, 1922 Queen Anne High School alum, led the World’s Fair marching band around the grounds.

At least one day in September and one in October brought more than 100,000 visitors to the grounds on a single day. The Canadian Tattoo was a highlight of the entertainment, and was nearly destroyed by the Columbus Day Storm. I was at work when the winds began to rise, and we didn’t have any warning as to just how bad it would get. The winds blew open the double sets of doors to the (then) new library and they ordered us to leave at 7 p.m. Trolley buses had been taken off their runs prior to the closure so I had to walk home. The fair didn’t look damaged as I came up Fifth North, but inside the grounds, the mockup of old Fort Henry had been blown down, anything loose on the grounds suffered.

The storm failed to stop the fair, and with hurried repairs, the Canadian Tattoo completed its run at the High School Memorial Stadium.

On the final day of the Fair, my mother had caught cold, so gave me her ticket to the Closing Ceremonies. My sister and I sat in the North stands of the stadium, listening to all the speeches, entertainment and burst of fireworks such as we had never seen before in Seattle. I was impressed – not just by the fair itself, but by all the notables who came to Seattle for the events. From this gift to lower Queen Anne would come the Seattle Center.

Looking back from 50 years later, I did not realize just how lucky we were to have this right in our back yard! The grounds grew on one, and return visits became commonplace. After all, where else could you find so much to see and do in this city?