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Expo at 50: Half a century later, a look back at the 1974 event that changed Spokane

A half-century ago this summer, the Expo ’74 international exposition was held right here in Spokane. It was the first environmentally themed World's Fair.

The event drew shy of 6 million visitors to the banks of the Spokane River in what is now Riverfront Park. Pavilion structures were built, some permanent (see today's U.S. Pavilion and the Convention Center), and then-President Richard Nixon presided over the opening day ceremonies, amid the Watergate scandal. Australia, Canada, West Germany, Iran, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines and the USSR were represented at the fair along with the U.S.

While the fair took place 50 years ago, Spokane still has many mementos, buildings, art pieces and memories left. Here are some of the highlights.

Around the World in 183 Days

  • Grand Opening

  • The Father of the Fair

  • Little Big City

  • Focusing on the Environment

  • Getting Our Goat

  • From Industrial to Incredible

  • Focusing on the Environment

  • World Powers

  • Paying for Expo '74

  • Day of Celebration

  • Afro-American Pavilion

  • Folklife Festival

  • Gigantic Butterflies

  • Having a Lasting Impact

  • Yippies and Hippies

  • Spokane River Natives

  • A-List Celebrities

  • The Real Star of the Show

  • Closing Day

  • The Park After the Fair

Expo's Legacy

Riverfront Park has been kept a mainstay destination for Spokane residents and visitors alike. The park has undergone numerous renovations in the 50 years since Expo '74, including a recent revamp of park arts and arbors, in an effort to revitalize the area just in time for the 50th anniversary of Spokane's World Fair.