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 Current State of Expos in the United States

I’ve spent a lifetime studying the history of world’s fairs and I’m often asked which expo is my favorite. It’s always been a difficult thing to answer, but in recent years, I realized there really has only been one answer. My favorite expo is always the next one. Living in the United States, that’s become a challenge as of late since we haven’t had a world’s fair in North America since 1986.

When I was just fifteen, growing up in Atlanta, I was fortunate to live just hours from Knoxville, Tennessee which hosted the Knoxville International Energy Exposition, better known locally as the 1982 World’s Fair. Two years later, I went to the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition in New Orleans. In college, I saved up money for a cheap flight to Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada to see Expo ’86. I was clearly hooked on expos at an early age.

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