When Seattle Invented the Future: The 1962 World's Fair (2012)

About the Documentary

The Space Needle. Monorail. Bubbleator. Science Center. Show Street and Gracie Hansen. Century 21 created icons and scientists, and brought Elvis and John Glenn, Joan Baez and Roy Rogers to our city. In 1962, Seattle invented a future that included a tech-savvy portal to the Pacific Rim.

Through historical photographs and motion pictures of the Seattle World’s Fair, the KCTS 9 documentary The 1962 World's Fair: When Seattle Invented the Future brings to life the textures and sounds of Seattle in the late 50s and early 60s. In interviews, Seattle’s business, civic and cultural leaders and longtime residents tell of the excitement and ambition the Fair ignited.

Tune in as KCTS 9 takes a look back at the fair that shaped Seattle's future. Presented in partnership with HistoryLink and The Next Fifty.

   The Seattle Times review:When Seattle 'invented' the future
   Crosscut.com: A documentary worthy of Seattle's shining moment

Songs from the 1962 Seattle World's Fair Archives

Title: Summer of '62
Recording used by permission
of Seafair-Bolo Records
Cover image courtesy of MOHAI

View Album Cover
Title: Meet Me in Seattle
Recording used by permission
of Seafair-Bolo Records
Cover image courtesy of MOHAI

View Album Cover
Title: Invitation to the Fair
Recording used by permission
of Seafair-Bolo Records

Cover image not available

More World's Fair music and videos

Women of Century 21

Watch an audio slideshow of historic photographs illustrating the many ways in which women helped shape the 1962 World’s Fair

Postcards from the 1962 World's Fair

Flip through vintage World's Fair postcards using an interactive map of the United States

Music by Art and Toni Mineo

The husband and wife team of musicians Art and Toni Mineo produced two albums for the World's Fair. Art Mineo's space-themed, 'Man in Space with Sounds,' was the music for the Bubbleator ride and Toni Mineo composed the music for 'Rhapsody 21.'

Watch the interview and listen to the World's Fair music by Art and Toni Mineo

A World's Fair Digital Scrapbook

In 1962, Jane Morton (then Jane Smyth) was sixteen and living in Ness City, Kansas. As members of the local high school band, Morton and her classmates received a special invitation to represent their state at the Seattle World’s Fair.

Watch the interview and view Jane Morton's digital scrapbook

Archival Footage: Century 21 Calling

Century 21 Calling was a commercial to promote the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle. Courtesy of archive.org

Watch: Century 21 Calling

History Café: Director John Gordon Hill

The spring of 1962 was a pivotal time for the city of Seattle. The World's Fair gave us the Space Needle and the monorail and brought Elvis and John Glenn to Seattle. Filmmaker John Gordon Hill discusses KCTS 9's 1962 World's Fair documentary "When Seattle Invented the Future."

Watch: Seattle World's Fair History Café



I was 19 years old and came to Seattle as a staff member at the Philippine Pavilion. I met a lot of wonderful people. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I wish I could meet some of them again.


I was 12 when my family went to the fair. In a time when we were all afraid of nuclear destruction, I found the Peace Pavillion and the people so committed to preventing all war profoundly moving. It moves me even now to remember. There were open-air sweeping white arches, and lots to read and think about.


oh it seems like yesterday ,many yesterday I hate to admit ,that I was working part time for the Vancouver province newspaper [ 7508] trying to get people to take the paper even if for a month just so I could win a trip to the world's fair in Seattle ,I bet that my parents had wished that I had another p.t job before school,since I would always sleep in and the sub manager would have to bang at the front door just to wake me up ,and every one else for that matter,,since I was never a good sales person ,then as well as now ,I was surprise to find out that I WAS GOING , yes I won ,,oh god ,how did that happen? it must of being all those one month subscribers ,that I need to deliver to , oh well ,I'M going to Seattle ,had never been and was looking forward to the day trip.on the bus ,which seem like it took hours and hours to get there.but IT was worth it what I can remember anyway, since that trip in 62, I have never stopped going to Seattle,


Does anyone remember the Library of the Future at the Seattle Worlds Fair? I haven't found any pictures of it. Or the Gutenberg Bible that was on display too. Thanks Linda


I have a collection of photos and articles on the Christian Witness Pavillion at the fair. My in-laws were instrumental in setting this pavillion up and organizing the activities during the fair--a childcare facility for fair goers who needed a break from their children.


My family headed to the World's Fair from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on their annual camping holiday. My most vivid memory as a four-year-old was getting a ride on the monorail. My parents, on a budget as always, bought tickets as a treat for my two older siblings and me but didn't realize that it was a one-way trip. They were frantic with worry by the time our little trio showed up again having walked back under the monorail to the starting point. Just this past year my daughter and I returned to Seattle and rode the monorail-- both ways this time! It's a great city and I hope not to wait such a long time again before returning.


My Grandparents were both from Belgium. they both served at the World's Fair, I believe, as representatives for the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. My Grandmother served up a few of those Belgian Waffles. I grew up eating many of her wonderful Flemmish treats. Hers always tasted the best, but the waffles at the Seattle World's Fair were made and introduced by my Grandmother (not just her, but she was one of them).


Some of my favorite memories include going to the site of the Space Needle to see the construction of the footings and seeing the giant sized nuts and anchor bolts used to hold the legs to the concrete footings.

Going through the "House of the Future" and then finding that house in Corvallis, OR some 45 years later and for sale. It had not aged well.

Getting pins at the USSR exhibit.

"Please Step to the Rear of the Sphere" sang the Bubbleator operator.


My family attended the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. Coming from Ashland, OR, the fair was huge and exciting for the whole family. My brother was 7 and I was 5. I have memories of crowds and rides and smells and especially riding up the Space Needle. My dad's favorite memory from that trip was recounting that my poor brother (who suffered from motion sickness)started looking a little green as we descended the Space Needle's speedy elevator. We exited, and my brother made a beeline to the base of one of the Needle's footings and promptly lost his lunch! Memorable. My brother and I both moved to Seattle as young adults, and have lived here for 20+ years. And every time I pass by the Space Needle while at Seattle Center, I feel a very special connection with that beautiful Jetson-inspiring structure!


I was the Filipino Queen during the World's Fair and was crowned by LT.Gov. John Cherberg. It was a very exciting year for me. My gown was designed by a famous Filipino couturier named Pitoy Moreno. I had a chance to meet him while he came to Seattle for the Fair. I recently visited Seattle last month since I now live in Cambridge, MA (right across from Harvard University.) My brother, granddaughter and me visited the World's Fair. It sure brought back pleasant memories. I even met Elvis!! I bought the book and I was surprised to see my picture is in the book! Happy Anniversary!!


My first memory of the Seattle’s World Fair was also the opening day and the Jet that crashed. It was a few houses down from where I lived and my family witnessed the whole crash. My Brothers were on the roof watching planes do various tricks for the opening. We all watched as a Fighter Jet went into a big dive. We were all yelling,” pull up, pull up” and before we knew it was bearing down on our house. It was surreal and a scene I’ll never forget, but just as it was about to hit, the tip of the wing hit a lone pine tree and the Jet switched directions sending it crashing down the street instead. There was a huge fireball and the force was so great, it broke windows all up the street. Sadly, a senior couple was killed, but all the other houses it hit, either the people weren’t home or somehow! Everyone got out, even though their house was hit too. I was 10 at the time and my friends lived in the houses hit so I got in when most of the area was off limits. A crazy sight! My friend’s room was a big hole in the ground and stuff was melted to the walls. Shrapnel was stuck in trees and littered the whole neighborhood. Our summer project was collecting it.
It wasn’t all bad. We usually didn’t get to go anywhere, but our relatives from Illinois came out, so we got to go a couple of times. I LOVED it! –Everything - All the Futuristic stuff, rides, Bubleator, Flag pavilion and especially the Science Pavilion. On one of the trips we had just gotten our tickets and barely were inside when there was all this commotion. Here was another girl getting tagged as the 9 (?) millionth guest! Ahhh, just missed it. Fun visit anyway.
I have been going to Seattle Center ever since. What fun it was when my Kids were small to take them on the Bubbleator, fun forest and up the Needle. Really enjoying everyone’s stories too.


My brother, Ray Shupp, and the Olympia High School Band played at the Fair. They were awarded a metal on royal blue ribbon. The metal, his clarinet and case were stolen years back. He's about to retire, at the young age of 66, from teaching. Attempts have been made with our newspaper and Olympia High School to obtain a photo or clipping to no avail. Since we only get 15 minutes of fame, maybe someone has something to contribute to Mr. Shupp's opus. Thanks in advance.


I was living in Arcadia, CA, going to school at L.A. State. My roommate Janet Jones and I drove to Seattle to meet my parents and younger siblings (who lived in Spokane) for a 4-day fair visit. The fair was fabulous, I especially liked the wide range of musical acts and events, as well as the innovative technological ideas and wide array of cultures - the food, the dress - the crafts - the music. It solidified the focus of my studies back at school in folklore and arts administration. I would eventually return to Spokane and become one of the producers of "The Northwest: A Gift of the Earth", the folklife festival that provided the cornerstone theme for the 1974 Spokane World's Fair. I still feel that was my most exciting professional endeavor. By then, Overton Berry (who contributes to this film), and I have become long time friends, along with other many other wonderful PNW musicians and artists I've worked with over the years. Having been involved since with a variety of nonprofit public cultural programming entities, I realize the importance of the Seattle World's Fair that has resulted in the growth and vibrancy of the arts and culture in Seattle. Whether by design or happenstance, it provided the cornerstone (Seattle Center) for an explosion of arts and culture for all Seattleites and visitors. After a stint working in the Southwest, primarily manifesting cross-cultural programming and films with Mexico and co-founding the Tucson Jazz Society, I moved back to Seattle where I became ED of the Seattle Folklore Society, then the parent organization for the Northwest Folklife Festival, still (I believe) the only admission-free festival of its size in the world, held every Memorial Day weekend at Seattle Center. The Seattle World's Fair opened my eyes to a lifetime of creative manifestation and I revel in the joy of its legacy often.


I was a university student from Victoria who had a summer job as a waiter on the Princess Marguerite which sailed between Seattle and Victoria every day. In 1961 we watched in awe from Puget Sound as the Space Needle went up. During the fair the Princess Marguerite arrived in Seattle each evening and then became a floating hotel overnight. Being in Seattle every night was great. But the hardest part of the job was trying to wake up all the overnight guests VERY EARLY in the morning. It was around 6:00 as they had to get off the ship by 7:00 so it could load all the day passengers for Victoria and leave at 8:oo . The fair itself was wonderful to an excited 19 year old. Besides the space needle and science pavilion, I still remember seeing color television for the first time at the KOMO studio. The fair whetted my appetite for many future visits to your great city. Thanks to the citizens of Seattle!

Does anyone recall staying on the Princess Marguerite?


I ran across this when trying to figure out what is was that we took from Seattle to Victoria in 1965 and I think it must have been this Princess Marguerite that you speak of. We would have been the passengers that got on at 8 after you woke up the night group. I went for a day trip to Victoria, which was very exciting. I was 10 and I think it was my first time out of the US. It was somewhat fancy and we dressed up for the occasion. I wore a brand new dress. But that may have not meant that much, because you dressed up to go out for dinner in those days.


...let’s see...standing on the corner near our apartment at 14th @ Olive we could clearly watch the building of the 'needle'. My parents never actual took us to the fair, but I did somehow manage to go. I remember somewhere they had this real cool exhibit of one million dollar coins. They were in this huge display case...very cool. The monorail was very slick and moved with ease above the traffic. I believe in the early days the needle had a real flame on top..? One of my friends was the first in our neighborhood to actually go up in the needle. He was like a celebrity for the rest of the summer. The coolest part was to stand at the bottom of the needle and look straight up. You could get dizzy. I also saved up and bought one of the special Seattle World’s fair coins. It was like special money and you could spend it anywhere (even in Bremerton) during when the fair was the fair.


Recollections of the Seattle World's Fair ...
(1) The plane crash from the flyover on opening day that killed a couple watching the fair events on TV at home because they had been advised that crowds would cause problems for those attending the fair on opening day.
(2) Bill Cosby featured as a commentator broadcasting for an extended period on radio from the Space Needle throughout the summer. We didn't know at the time that he would later become famous for his hilarious recordings and for several popular series on TV.
(3) President Kennedy having to call off his planned visit at the close of the fair, reportedly due to illness. We later learned that the reason for his no-show was the escalation of the Cuban Missile Crisis.


My parents were very involved in the Seattle Worlds Fair in 1962. I have some very rare mint condition VIP invitaitons and un-opened record from opening day. I was only 6 years old but I remember how amazing everything was. My parents were also very involved in helping produce the Seattle Folklife Festival in 1972. To me Seattle is one of the most beautiful cities in America. I hold this city close to my heart. It is just amazing how far Seattle has grown in just 50 years. Thank you KCTS9 for remembering the future of Seattle.


Knute just showed a helmet from the fair. Wow! My mother (a polio victim) was in a wheel chair and always looked for jobs that she could do at home. I was 9 years old and vividly remember people delivering huge cases of the helmets in assorted colors to our house and she and I would spend hours putting the stickers on them. Then they would come and pick them up and bring more cases. Strangely, I never ended up with a helmet.
What a memory, right at the end of your awesome documentary!


The documentary looks fascinating! Is there any way I can watch it online if I don't have a television?


Hi Guest,

This documentary will re-air several times in the near future. Check out airtimes here. You can also pledge to KCTS 9 and receive the DVD as a thank you gift here.

KCTS 9 Staff


I was young (4) when I went to the fair. I vaguely remember the cable hung carriers that transported visitors above the crowds to another part of the fair. I was the youngest of my family (at that time) so got to ride on my Dad's shoulders for part of the day. I remember the ladies in the Bubbleator in their fancy outfits and thinking Wow was this the future? When I was 16 my Dad handed me a package. Inside was a charm bracelet with a Space Needle on it. He said he kept it for me since that trip to the fair, and figured it was good time to give it to me. I still have it and brings back good memories of the exciting trip to the fair. Congratulations and Happy Celebrating!


My father was the manager (director?) of the children's section of the Science Center during the fair. He worked from sometime in early spring (well before the fair started), and I know he was still working the day of the Columbus Day storm. He was also a teacher in Seattle Public Schools, so did "double duty" during much of that time.

I was 8 years old and turned 9 that July. My photo is in the original souvenir book, and reappeared in the recent Seattle MET magazine recounting the history of the fair. (...I must say I let out a small shriek in the grocery store when I idly opened that issue and found myself looking AT myself!)

There was a time, years later, when it seemed that he may have been an assistant director of the entire Science Center. That is very unclear to me, and may or may not have been true ~ I have not been able to find out.

I have many memories of the fair, as I was there fairly often. My Bluebird group sang on the flag plaza for some part of the opening ceremonies. Some of my friends were also photographed for the souvenir book on that day in early spring (when my father very suddenly called my mother and said there would be photographers there later that SAME day, and could she possibly round up some children willing to be photographed?? ~ She did.)

At any rate, I was inordinately proud of my father, proud of Seattle, proud to be alive, and excited about the wonderful future ahead of us all in "Century 21"!!


To KEM: I, too, remember singing in the Flag Pavilion as a Camp Fire Girl. We had gathered at a Burien school with other Blue Bird and Camp Fire groups in the (now) SeaTac and Burien areas for the purpose of learning and practicing our songs. I clearly remember that my age group sang "The Tennesee Waltz" and I think we sang "Froggy Went a'Courtin'". I do remember being very bored at the last practice but the actual performance day was thrilling!
The flags were impressive and I was proud to be in my red, white and blue Camp Fire Girls outfit, singing as part of a large turnout of girls who were involved in a terrific youth development organization. (Not that I knew back then that it was a youth development organization. I just knew that I enjoyed the meetings and the activities and the adult leaders who voluntereed their time with us.)
Was that the same day that the Soviet Premier, Nikita Krushchev, attended the fair? Anyway, it was a day that I felt proud to be an American, a Washingtonian, a Seattleite and an 11 year-old girl. I will never forget the experience. I still have my '21' pin, my felt CFG emblem commemorating the event and one or two world's fair 'dollar coins.'


I was 8 yrs old with my Bluebird Group from FallCity Wa. We sang with other groups from all over, I remember singing "Washington my home" and Oklahoma. What an amazing time that was.


Gail, I recognize your name. If you were 11, you were "impossibly" older than I (I was in awe of anyone even one grade above me)..... But at any rate, I was in the Westline District and stayed in Camp Fire all the way through school.

And by the way, I think my mother accompanied EVERYthing in those days that was "Camp Fire" in South King County. She accompanied Camp Fire singing at Southcenter at Christmas for years.

A friend and I have been talking; she thinks we sang "Froggy Went a'Courtin'" as well. She also thinks we sang, "My Old Kentucky Home" ~ and I KNOW we sang "You're A Grand Old Flag" (because I've known it ever since!).

At any rate, I still have my Century 21 felt patch, but what the heck was the 21 pin??

KEM :)


My Aunt Carol worked in the Space Needle gift shop during the fair. I was so proud of her!


My brother won a trip to the World's Fair for being a top paperboy in his district. And of course, Elvis was there!!!!!!!!


My Dad helped make the original huge 6x24" post cards with the photo of the Space Needle against the blue sky. My mom still has a few.


I was 9 yrs old when my parents packed my 3 older sisters and me into our station wagon for the 2+ hour ride from Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island to Seattle. It was a trip we didn't make very often and I was excited beyond belief. I'd never been to Disneyland and what little I had seen in the newspaper about what would be at the World's Fair really peaked my interest, even being so young.

My most vivid memories are riding on the Bubbelator and going through the Home of the Future, having lunch up in the Space Needle, which was a HUGE splurge for my parents, and getting separated briefly from my parents in the Science Pavilion. I'd never seen crowds of people like that before and the overwhelming panic I felt when I was pushed along with the crowd going down the stairs, away from my mother's hand, still sticks with me today! I still cannot stand being lost.

It was a most thrilling and terrifying day all in one! Everything I saw at the 1962 World's Fair made me very hopeful about the future. At that time schoolkids were still having to kneel in the hallways or hide under desks with our hands over our heads in the event of a nuclear attack. The 1962 World's Fair made all things good seem possible and I felt proud that Seattle was at the center of it.


My aunt demonstrated live Horseshoe crabs at the Science Pavilion.


I have a collection of photos and articles from the fair pertaining to the Christian Witness Pavillion. My in-laws were intrumental in setting up this pavillion and organizing it's daily activities--providing a couple of hours of childcare for fair goers.


I have a collection of photos and articles on the Christian Witness Pavillion at the fair. My in-laws were instrumental in setting this pavillion up and organizing the activities during the fair--a childcare facility for fair goers who needed a break from their children.


I was not born as of yet but my father was 21 when he visited the fair with a press pass from Channel 12. He told me a story recently of him and friend being asked to participate on a game show which was being broadcast in color. He cannot recall the name of the show but it involved him running back and forth with a key, trying to find the right one to open a lock.
Sadly they didn't win but as a consolation prize they were awarded one of the coveted Space Needle lighters that was one of the hotter items to get. He gave it to his friend and unfortunately it has been lost in time.
As a personal project I have been searching for the footage, if it still exists, but so far I've had a lot of fun talking to archivists as I am looking to go to school to become one myself. If anyone has any information or possible leads please comment back.
Also to the KCTS folks, I came across a booth at the Aurora Antique Pavilion on Highway 99 chock full of original Seattle's Fair merchandise as well as one of the Space Needle lighters for around 500 bucks. Just a heads up, hopefully it helps you out.


My Dad worked on the sky ride at the World's Fair before I was born and still keeps his ID card in his wallet!


I wasn't even around back in 1962.


My Dad installed the Bubbleator, I was stationed in Germany at the time of the Fair but when I got home they showed me a newspaper photo and article about him during the installation.


Sir, Can you give us more information about your father? We need it for our project--Stories of visitors of the Seattle World's Fair.


My dad drove to the world's fair at the ripe old age of 16 from northern Minnesota. His older brother lived up here so he had a place to stay. somewhere in South Dakota his car broke down (needed a generator)...so my dad called home and my grandfather said "fix it" and hung up the phone...haha 2 days of sleeping in a barn the parts finally came in and he was on the road again...till the car broke down again in Idaho...which he just put it in neutral and coasted into spokane (no interstates...just a very scary steep drive downhill according to him). He finally made it and enjoyed the fair...but spent most of the time rebuilding the car to make the trip home.


I was 9 at the time of the worlds fair. My Aunt and Uncle had a spot on the "Food Circus" serving sandwiches. As I recall they had two of the first microwave ovens on the west coast. Quite possibly the first time microwaves were used in commercial food prep. At least in Seattle.


I just took my family to visit the Space Needle yesterday on our way home from a vacation in Victoria.

I was 13 when my family visited the worlds fair. One of my most vivid memories was when I climbed up on one of the big footings for the space needle (the ones with several large nuts). I was sitting there resting, and after awhile a large throng of people was passing by. Then in the middle of it all was Elvis riding on a tram with several other people (they were there to film the movie). They passed just a few feet in front of me, so I had a very good view from my vantage point on the Space Needle footing.

My youngest daughter is just turned 13. Yesterday I sat her up on the same footing I sat on nearly 50 years ago, and I took her picture. Now that memory is even more pleasant. :-)


May I inteview you for a class project about the world fair. It would be very helpful
Thank you


I was born in 1961.


I attended the 1962 World's Fair at the tender age of 1. My mother brought me up from Salem, Oregon to go with my two Aunts who lived in Seattle at the time. I currently have a still shot that was taken at the fair and of course, I do not remember any of it. Unfortunately, my mother and both of my aunt's have long past away so I cannot quiz them about that time.


I was almost 12 and my Father won a Salmon Derby that was hosted by the Elks Lodge in Olympia. The top prize was $200 in Worlds Fair money and tickets to the fair. The wind was blowing too much for the elevators to operate up the Needle so we did not get the opportunity to go to the top. To this day I have yet to visit the Needle. My fondest memory of the fair was the water ski show as I knew that I could perform as well as those entertainers and I maintained that dream all the way into my twenties. However, much like riding the elevators up the Needle; being a professional water skier never happened either.


Noel, you have to take a trip to the needle! Make a special occasion out of it and eat a fancy dinner at the top!


I worked with Mary Boland and Hap Hazard at the space needle gift shop.I enjoyed riding the elevator with the prime rib and those wonderful lemon sweetrolls...We had a hard time finding anything to sell that wasn't from Japan..I do remember one very high wind storm that made the jewelry sway and when Janie Rosselini got stuck in the elevator...the times were so different that I even took the bus to Lake City at 1am. I loved working there, it became almost like home..I remember James Garner and Hogy Charmichael and Sammy Davis Jr.
My mother's best friend Corinne Marshall was an extra in the Elvis movie..those were the days.


My wife and her parents went to the World Fair and there main memory is how my wide became the first lost child at the fair. I remember seeing a newspaper clipping one of her grandparents kept about the event. She would have been around 3 or 4 at the time.

If that is of any interest to anyone I can see if they remember anything more.


Yikes, I now see why you have that preview button by the save. I really do know the difference between their and there and my wife is not wide but my fingers are.


I was seven years old when the World's fair kicked off.

I was born in Minnesota. At the time, my oldest sister's husband (Air Force) was stationed at the Fairchild AFB.

We came up to visit, and part of that visit included a trip to Seattle.

I remember my sister up from me (three years older) picking up what she thought was a gag candy:

Chocolate covered ants, Honey covered bees

I suggested she read the ingredients:

"Chocolate covered ants, Honey covered bees"

All I remember thinking was how I wish she had bought (and ate) the candy for no other reason than the look on her face at first bite...

The other thing I remember was attending a presentation at the Ripley's Believe it or Not exhibit in which the man in charge demonstrated the firing of the world's smallest working firearm. I still remember it because he put the shell casing in an envelope and gave it to me. Being no more than maybe 9 or 10 at the time (or younger), I had no grasp of the value of it. My sister was there, maybe she did, I have no recollection of what happened to it.

It was just a special moment never repeated over the course of my childhood.

I used to collect the old Ripley's believe it or not books.
They too disappeared, just as did my old comic book collection ("rot my brain").

Unfortunately, all I have left, in spite of my best effort, are memories. But, you asked.

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