History Still Happens: A Case Study (with Pizza and Pride)

History Still Happens: A Case Study (with Pizza and Pride)

Oftentimes, when I talk to people about world's fair history, it's seen as something far in the past. However, history still happens and we're a part of it. Creating the Expo 2015+100 Archive, I've accumulated items and stories about this year's world's fair to share with the future, specifically 2115. What can be most fascinating, however, is that we don't always know what will be important to future historians.

When I was 15 and attended the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA, the organizers had publicized the introduction of milk that needed no refrigeration. It was perceived, at the time, as the "big invention" that people would remember from the expo. Meanwhile, the United States Pavilion was using the first touch screen monitors to help tell their story about energy. Until then, only researchers had access to this technology. Today, nearly everyone on the Expo 2015 site has that technology in their pocket in the form of a smart phone. In 1982, though, touch screen technology was considered just an interesting novelty.

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The World as We Want It: The Expo as Experiment

As a child, visiting relatives in St. Louis, Missouri here in the United States, I’d often hear references to the 1904 World’s Fair that was held there. Officially known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, Americans have tended to use the term “world’s fair” much in the same way that we refer to football as “soccer.”

I’d later find out that not only did my great-grandmother attend the world’s fair, but I discovered that the hospital I was born in was on land that was part of the site. For folks in St. Louis, the event is still an important part of the city’s identity. It not only helped St. Louis shape its identity, but pointed the way forward for the city and the nation.

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