Past Worlds Fairs – Expo 2023


HGA hosted the May Expo 2023 gathering.   Guest speaker, Dean Tom Fischer, presented on the history of the Worlds Fairs selecting a number of prominent and international examples to showcase the size and impact these events have on their region economically and in terms of global branding.  A history of the fairs and the theme’s each represented was covered and it showed how cities where using the fairs to establish themselves on the international stage and for investment & development of city infrastructure.
Some of many examples covered in the briefing included:
  • The 1889 Worlds Fair in Paris.   This set the bar for future events and put Paris on the map as an international city.   The Eiffel tower was constructed as the entrance to the fair grounds. Other significant structures included the Galerie des machines.   Countries from around the world, including South Africa where included event.
  • The 1893 Worlds Fair in Chicago was a hallmark for the USA featuring 14 “great buildings”, moving walkways, and a large ferris wheel. The fair commemorated the 400th anniversary of Columbus voyage to america through a great reflecting pond.  This was building on the momentum of the 1933 fair that showcased electric lighting of the fair to the world and continued the tradition of establishing America’s cities as leading on the international stage.
  • The 1962 Worlds Fair in Chicago saw the construction of the iconic space needle and the World of Tomorrow grounds as a symbols of America’s commitment to the space race.  A monorail system.
  • The 1964 Worlds Fair in New York was the third in the cities history.  Themed Peace and Understanding the central symbolic feature was the Unisphere.  It showcased the American life style and emerging technologies like mainframes and CRTs.
  • The 2010 Worlds Fair in Shanghai set new records for both transformation and investment in the city, as well as,  record attendance and tourism.
The post briefing discussions focused on why fairs matter:
  • World Attention and Branding
  • Global Collaboration and B2B partnerships are formed
  • Leveraging investments in infrastructure and technology to propel the city going forward
  • Create infrastructure for transportation, education, and business that develops a lifestyle that attracts young talent
  • Tourism to expose people to the region and the regional income due to the millions of visitors can range in the billions
  • Investments in public transportation can allow the city to scale over time at a reduced cost
Common concerns where in two categories:
  1. The last US worlds fair was over 40 years about in New Orleans and it lost money.
  2. The US has pulled out of the international community for expos due to political reasons,  so it will take Federal State Department support to region if Minneapolis or several other USA cities to be a host.
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