Six-year-old Paula Dahl was rather ready and very lucky for the excitement attendant on her second visit to Century 21. It was in October, the last month of the 1962 world fair’s sixth month run, and the fair’s publicists had managed to inspire locals with the likelihood that the goal of having 9 million visitors would almost certainly be reached. Paula remembers her parents making this point after the Dahl family’s most exciting day at the fair.
While her 9-year old sister Nancy waited at the turnstile with their mom, Paula stayed with her dad to buy the tickets, including the fated one. Soon after the family was reunited at the turnstile surprises wondrously “fell” upon Paula. First a bouquet of roses, an oversized stuffed dog and the glowing yellow sign that numbered her distinction. City councilman, fair booster, and gregarious Democratic pol, Al Rochester, hung the sign around her neck, a neck that was no doubt smaller than expected.
For the rest of their lucky day the Dahl family rode the fair’s rides without fee, and toured the grounds like royalty always going to the head of the line. Their guide, a European named Erika, made such an impression on Paula that she named her stuffed purple dog after her. At the fair’s Plaza of States, Paula was asked to give a speech. She recalls, “I really was very unsure about what I should say to this very large crowd of people; but somehow I managed the courage to say very meekly, ‘Hello.’ The crowd followed my ‘mini’ speech with the song, ‘For she’s a jolly good fellow!’”
While Paula wore out her purple Erika – “I rode it pretty hard.” – she saved her necklace sign with such care that it seems brand new in Jean Sherrard’s repeat. There, Paula Dahl Jones, a fifth grade teacher at Sunset Elementary in Issaquah, poses with her class. Also appearing behind her students are two special teachers for the day. One is another Paula, Paula Becker, and the other Alan J. Stein, both lecturers on all things Century 21, and authors for the Seattle Center Foundation’s illustrated history of the fair, aptly named “The Future Remembered, the 1962 Worlds’ Fair & it’s Legacy.”
Authors Becker and Stein will be on hand this coming Saturday, April 21, for the beginning of the Center’s six month Golden Anniversary celebration of Century 21. The opening ceremony begins at 10:30 am on the Center House Stage.
Anything to add, Paul?
Certainly Jean, and I may I also hope that you will reflect some on your visit to Paula’s classroom at Sunset Elementary in Issaquah? Here we will start with Ron Edge’s attachment of two links to former blog features that deal with Seattle Center and also to some extent with Century 21. Following that we will attached three or four fresh – if retreaded – features as well as an ensemble of other appropriate subjects, most of the photos with short captions.
One month separates the subject above, dated Dec. 8, 1927, and the one below, dated Jan. 9, 1928. Construction of the Civic Auditorium is progressing on the right.
(First appeared – in part – in Pacific on Nov. 7, 1993)
In its transformation from swale to Seattle Center, David and Louisa Denny’s donation claim never developed into a typical residential neighborhood. Rather, its uses were mixed – from the Dennys’ large garden (one of the principal sources of Seattle’s produce through the 1870s) to circuses, auto races, baseball, opera and Bumbershoots. The contemporary photo (which I have as yet not uncovered) was recorded on Labor Day during Bumbershoot 1993. (I’ll substitute another Bumbershoot – a later one – and described within it the spot – once the intersection of Third Ave. and Harrison Street – from which this “then” was taken in 1928.)
On the right of the historical scene the city’s new auditorium is a work in progress. Built in great haste, it was dedicated Nov. 12, 1928, less than a year after this scene was photographed. The auditorium (which was later given
a new Opera House skin for the Century 21 fair in 1962) was part of a civic complex designed, as promotional material of the time put it, as the “most multipurpose auditorium group in the world,” lifting Seattle to the status of “Convention City of the Charmed Land.” Also included on the eleven-acre site were the surviving Ice Arena and Civic Field, which was replaced in the late 1950s by the Memorial Stadium.
In the distance, north of Mercer Street, Queen Anne Hill climbs to a 400-foot-plus horizon. Straight up Third, the roof line of Queen Anne High School is detectable at the center of the subject’s horizon. Many of these residences survive in part because of the successful zoning struggle this community waged in the early 1970s to restrict the proliferation of high rises on the south slope of the hill.
(First appeared in Pacific, Nov. 14, 1993)
This rear view of Seattle’s Civic Auditorium was photographed two short blocks from the scene shared directly above it. In the earlier scene, construction was beginning; here, nine or 10 months later, it is complete. At the time such speed was heralded as record-breaking.
The photographer looks across the freshly paved intersection of Fourth Avenue North and Harrison Street to the principal components of the new civic center: the Ice Arena, center right; the Civic Auditorium, center, and the Civic Field. The east end of its covered grandstand shows on the left. The sign above the Arena’s wide back door reads “Ice Skating Opens November 7th.” The 1928 dedication ceremonies featured an ice carnival presented by the Seattle Ice Skating and Hockey Association in benefit for Children’s Orthopedic Hospital.
The 6,500-seat auditorium had opened earlier for a Kiwanis convention. On June 20 the Kiwanis witnessed the auditorium’s first musical event, “Oriental,” with exotic dances, sets, soloists and a 50-piece orchestra. Civic Field was used for professional, amateur and high school sports. Seats (9,000) were covered, and the low “peekaboo fence” along Fourth and Harrison opened the contests to freeloaders – the “knothole gang on Deadbeat Hill.”
Included among the complex’s 655 events in 1935 were auto and dog shows, dances, operas, wrestling and boxing smokers, banquets, lectures, donkey baseball, soccer, hockey and lacrosse. But not Rita Rio and her all-girl orchestra. They were banned in 1939 by Mayor Arthur Langlie for “activities objectionable to a substantial portion of our citizens.” The Communist Party and the Jehovah Witnesses also were banned repeatedly by officials anxious to protect the public from controversial or eccentric ideas – material and spiritual.
SEATTLE WORLD’S FAIR – 1942
First a draining and enduring Great Depression and then a world war broke the gears of these civic dreams that were first proposed in 1937.
The pamphlet above is used courtesy of Michael Maslan, and the “grabbed” Seattle Times clipping below compliments of the Times and the Seattle Public Library, and its subscription to the “key word search” service of the Times. [Click the clip twice for reading. Titled “Realtor Scoffs at ‘Long Faces'” it is an invigorating read.] By good luck the March 6, 1938 clipping also includes most of C.T. Conover’s first feature for the Times that he wound up writing for the paper well into the 1950s.