This year marks the 40th anniversary of Expo ‘74, when Spokane hosted the World’s Fair, drawing 5.6 million visitors. It was the first environment-themed World’s Fair and was generally considered a resounding success. Take a look back at that one glorious summer of exhibitions, concerts, rides, famous faces and international visitors. President Richard Nixon, Gov. Dan Evans and Congressman Tom Foley opened the fair with speeches and 50,000 helium balloons on May 4, 1974.
The south channel of the Spokane River was the focal point. At right, floats rest in the river as masses of balloons are released. Below is another view, showing the state pavilion at right, in front of which are dignitary and press areas. May 7, 1974.
The Expo 74 Sky Ride was a popular ride during the fair. Riders got an elevated view of most of the grounds. The Ride ran from east to west across the park. The Gondola Ride was another popular attraction is was another popular attraction during the fair, the gondola is still in operation taking riders from Riverfront Park below the falls and back.
A star shell bursts behind the United States Pavilion during a fireworks display at the Expo 74’ World’s Fair. The Pavilion, whose theme is “Man and Nature, One and Indivisible,” prominently features the worlds of a Suquamish Indian chief who rebukes a delegation of white settlers who wanted to buy his land more than a century ago.
MIME GOODNESS, IT’S HOT: As temperatures in the 90’s continued, Don McLeod, left, and Mark Wenzel, right, of the Don McLeod Mime Theater decided to take a quick and surrealistic dip in the Spokane River at Expo 74’.
Riverfront Park was nearly ready for opening day of the 1974 World Expo in this April 1974 aerial photograph by Tom Salyer. The park downtown was transformed from a railroad yard over several years in preparation for the world’s fair.
U.S. Pavilion, Riverfront Park, Spokane, Washington. Photo 06/07/1974. Parks - Riverfront pavilion.
Much of the paving and landscaping at the site of Expo ‘74 is nearly completed, giving the site an “about to open” appearance. Twenty days remain until opening ceremonies are conducted May 4. In the photo above can be seen the Sermons From Science Pavilion in the left foreground; the German Hofbrau House the circular building over the river; the Japanese Pavilion, the larger white building at left center; the massive U.S. Pavilion; the Great Northern clock tower and to its right the sprawling Soviet Pavilion, and numerous other exhibit buildings and concession stands. The area shown lies mostly between Howard and Stevens Streets. Photo 04/11/1974.
Expo ‘74 Pavilion.
A hand-eating goat? Actually it is a trash barrel that Sister Paula Mary Turnbull, Fort Wright college art department chairman, is testing. Her unique welded weathering steel sculpture, commissioned by the Women’s Council of Spokane Board of Realtors in cooperation with the City Park Department, this week was installed on the Expo ‘74 grounds. A vacuum will draw litter from the goat’s stomach into a barrel behind a stone wall and the goat will ask for trash from a hidden recorder. 4/24/1974 photo.
The dances the Basques of southwestern Idaho have retained from the “old country” and the ones they have created in this country are popular with crowds visiting the Expo ‘74 Folklife Festival this week. In addition, the Basques are amazing visitors with feats of strength in the weightlifting games unique to their culture. Basque arts and crafts also are on display. Photo 08/01/1974.
Joe David and Frank Charley, both of Vancouver Island, B.C., are busy carving a 30-foot totem pole on Canada Island at Expo. The pole will be presented to the city of Spokane during Canada Week in August. July 9, 1974.
Expo ‘74. Aug. 1, 1974.
Expo ‘74. Oct. 9, 1981.
Throngs jammed the Expo ‘74 site Saturday seeking vantage points from which the opening ceremonies. Part of the crowd filled the walkways and riverbank in front of the Soviet pavilion. May 7, 1974.
The residence of several well-known artists, Spokane boasts many pieces of sculpture. This work, at the head of the Expo ‘74 Theme Stream, was done by Glen Michaels, Spokane sculptor. Jul. 2, 1975.
Dr. Frank Vaulter was on Canada Island, Expo ‘74. Mar. 27, 1978.
And here are the changes, as brightly colored pavilions in dramatically different designs have replaced the warehouses and tracks. Some structures will remain in the park setting. May 3, 1974.
Expo ‘74. Jun. 1, 1974.
Expo ‘74. Jun. 7, 1974.
Millions will remember fun and learning at Expo ‘74 and thousands more will recall hours in the spotlight of the fair’s amphitheaters. These singers provided a respite’s entertainment in closing days. Oct. 31, 1974.
Riding high at Expo ‘74 can be a literal as well as a euphoric experience. Frenchie, the international clown, (left) and JoJo, get away from it all on the skyride. Viewing the fair from above gives a different conception of its dimensions. The two clowns, who have varied acts and costumes, provide on-site hilarity and sometimes are unwitting tarkets for tots carried away with the unfamiliarity of it all. Aug. 8, 1974.
Glimpses of an era past await these Expo visitors who begin a tour of Union Pacific’s team locomotive 8444, the largest ever in passanger service. Old engine is inspected daily by fairgoers who see the Folklife Festival, and may stop a vit and chat with four retired railroaders who share their memories. July 17, 1974.
RCMP. Aug. 28, 1974.
The heritage of the Interior Northwest Indians is presented in full costume at Fort Spokane. May 2, 1974.
Joesph Tougas and his son (1 year old) Morgan visited the site recently. They are from Olympia, Wash. May 5, 1974.
This audience, both young and old, gives performers in the Alberta Amphitheater at Expo ‘74 its complete attention. Not only are the performances enjoyable to the ear, but they also give fairgoers a chance to sit or lie down, rest and relax. Oct. 8, 1974.