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New York 2015: A World's Fair in the World's City

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Structures, Ideas, and Products introduced at past World's Fairs

  •  1851, London -- The first world's fair is held in the Crystal Palace (which introduced the large-scale use of metal and glass prefabricated construction); Colt revolver, and McCormick reaper.
  • 1853, Dublin -- The first elevator.
  • 1855, Paris -- The first sewing machine.
  • 1862, London -- The first calculating machine.
  • 1876, Philadelphia -- Charles Hires's root beer, Alexander Graham Bell's telephone, Remington's typewriter, Heinz Ketchup, and Queen Anne architecture are all introduced.
  • 1878, Paris -- The first outdoor electric lighting.
  • 1889, Paris -- The unveiling of the Eiffel Tower; the first gas-powered automobile.
  • 1893, Chicago -- Cream of Wheat, Shredded Wheat, Pabst Beer, Aunt Jemima syrup, Juicy Fruit gum, hamburgers, carbonated soda, picture postcards, electric lights, cracker jacks, ferris wheels, Postal service commemorative stamps, U.S. Mint commemorative coins, Columbus Day, the Pledge of Allegiance are all exhibited for the first time.  The Columbian Exposition of 1893 White City exhibit inspired both the U.S.'s 'City Beautiful' movement, as well as the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz.  Popular novels, such as Burnham's Sweet Clover and Burnett's Two Little Pilgrims' Progress took the Fair as their backdrop and theme, while sections of W.D. Howells' Letters from an Altrurian Traveler and Henry Adams' Education focused on the meaning of the huge cultural event they had just experienced.

    The Fair positioned itself as a cultural event, and included music as an important element in that scheme. John Phillip Sousa's work was frequently performed by the many marching bands on the Fairgrounds, Dvorak composed the New World Symphony in honor of the Exposition, and a young piano player named Scott Joplin was quietly developing a new sound in music while working at the Fair--ragtime.  The 1893 Fair also provided the inspiration for the present-day carnival, which manifested itself shortly thereafter at Coney Island and later Disney World.  Thanks to the emphasis on exhibits and education at the Exposition, public science and art museums can be found in every population center in the country. Of course, many of these museums were built in the monumental Beaux-Arts style; civic architecture has utilized the style almost exclusively in the century since the Exposition closed.

  • 1900, Paris -- Bonsai trees & motion pictures.

  • 1904, St. Louis -- Dr Pepper, hamburger & hot dog buns, iced tea, French's mustard, ice cream cones, teddy bears, controlled flight, the wireless telegraph; and the statue of Vulcan (the world's largest cast metal statue and the largest statue ever made in the U.S.).

  • 1915, San Francisco -- Palace of Fine Arts constructed; Kodachrome photos and stunt flying.
  • 1925, Paris -- Art Deco introduced.
  • 1933, Chicago -- Radio Flyer Wagon displayed to millions.
  • 1939, NYC -- RCA introduces television, modernist art, Trylon and Perisphere.
  • 1939, San Francisco -- Commemoration of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge; atomic energy:  model of a cyclotron.
  • 1962, Seattle -- The Space Needle is constructed; monrails first presented.
  • 1964, NYC -- Pepsi creates the "It's a Small World" ride that now resides at Disney World; New York gets the unisphere; computer technology, videophones, and the first fax machine.
  • 1968, San Antonio -- Tower of the Americas built.
  • 1970, Osaka -- First publically-displayed moon rocks.
  • 1985, Tsukuba -- Advances in robotics.
  • 1992, Seville -- large-scale outdoor air conditioning.