Expo Blog

The Expo Blog is a space for posts on the history, themes, legacies and experience of Expos. It includes articles from the BIE and external contributors.

 

Expo 1867 Paris: Engineering the future beyond steam

Expo 1867 Paris: Engineering the future beyond steam

At Expo 1867, the second World Expo to be organised in Paris, a newcomer in energy production made a breakthrough – the gas engine. The emergence of this alternative form of energy production was the subject of significant rivalry at the Expo and it would go on to make ripples as a new method of powering machines and transportation.

In the mid 19th century, demand for accessible and reliable energy was increasing at a rapid pace, driven by the inventions and discoveries of the industrial revolution. The coal-powered steam engine enjoyed a near-monopoly in the production of energy for machinery and locomotives, but improvements in its functioning were beginning to plateau. This gave rise to a quest to find more efficient, more powerful and more practical ways to source, produce and use energy.

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From Past to Future Energy: innovation fuelling Expos, 1851-2017

From Past to Future Energy: innovation fuelling Expos, 1851-2017

On 10 June, Expo 2017 will open in Astana, Kazakhstan, under the theme “Future Energy.” The Specialised Expo will be an opportunity for host country and international participants alike to showcase the latest technologies and innovations in energy production, storage, access and use.

While the organisers, participants and visitors to Expo 2017 Astana will rightly focus on the latest innovations and trends that will shape the future of energy, the past can also provide inspiration. Previous Expos, at which innovation has been showcased and celebrated, may serve as an example and teach us lessons about the future.

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30 November 1936: the destruction of the Crystal Palace

30 November 1936: the destruction of the Crystal Palace

It was 80 years ago today, on 30 November 1936, that the Crystal Palace in London was destroyed by a fire. Originally built as the centrepiece of the Great Exhibition of 1851 – the first ever World Expo – the historic building enjoyed a second life in Sydenham for 82 years before succumbing to its fate.

Designed by Joseph Paxton, the Crystal Palace was erected in Hyde Park in only five months, an amazing feat given its dimensions (563 metres long and 139 metres wide). With 84,000 m2 of plate glass used as the structure’s walls and ceilings, the Crystal Palace was an architectural marvel of its time and a symbol of the progress achieved under Queen Victoria’s reign.

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Arcturus: the celestial beam that lit up an Expo

Arcturus: the celestial beam that lit up an Expo

Opening a World Expo is always a special moment as it marks the starting line for an event that will go onto attract millions of visitors from across the world. In 1933, Chicago wanted something electrifying to mark the opening of its “Century of Progress” Expo, a way to signal to participants and visitors how far the city had come since its establishment 100 years earlier.

While focused on technical innovation and the achievements of science and industry, Expo organisers also wanted to pay tribute to history, and notably to Expo 1893 – the World’s Columbian Exposition that was held in Chicago 40 years earlier. From these two considerations, a unique idea was born: to light up the Expo site using a beam of light that first left a star in 1893.

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The Legacy of Expo '88 - and Marching Towards the 30th Anniversary

The Legacy of Expo '88 - and Marching Towards the 30th Anniversary

Expo 1988 Brisbane was a runaway success and a game changer for the City of Brisbane. Attracting more than 18 million visitors - more than the total population of Australia at the time - and visited by numerous Heads of State and opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Expo, with its friendly furry platypus mascot "Expo Oz" and theme song "Together, We'll Show the World" was 1788-1988 Bicentennial Australia's largest and most successful event, proudly presenting a modern and brash Brisbane to the world stage.

But what about what happened after Expo, and its "Post-Expo" legacy?

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