(click to enlarge photos)
Last Labor Day Jean and I did some exploring at Seattle Center for a repeat photography project we named “Fair and Festival.” Through that three day weekend during Bumbershoot we hoped to match about 100 historical photographs, most of them from the 1962 Century 21 World’s Fair, with scenes from the 41-year old arts festival that has by now, it seems, gone largely pop.
With a half-century of changes at the Center we soon discovered that our project could be bewildering. Lucky for us collector Ron Edge joined us for two of those balmy afternoons, and with the help of Ron’s historical photographs and overlaid-maps we managed to line up – or correspond – a small horde of fair and festival subjects.
The one we chose for this feature reveals neither the futuristic nor monumental preoccupations of Century 21. We chose the waffles – the popular Belgian ones. When Paula Becker and Alan Stein hit the lecture circuit for “The Future Remembered, the 1962 Worlds’ Fair & it’s Legacy,” their Historylink book history of the fair, they confessed a small irritation over how many of their Century-21 “informants” wound up with the waffles – as did I.
My only visit to the worlds fair was from Spokane in the spring of 1962 as a member of the Whitworth College Choir. That our performance was rained out injured our artist status but we got a free day at the fair. I headed first for the dazzling Fine Arts Exhibit in Exhibition Hall, and followed it nearby to the short row of faux Flemish storefronts seen near the center of our “then.” It sat beside the fair’s Boulevards of the World, on the part named Freedom Way (Republican Street). It was there that my and perhaps your still fond waffle memories were sweetened with strawberries and whipped cream. And the secret we learn – again from Becker and Stein – was in the foundation: the big waffles themselves. The batter was yeast-leavened.
A snapshot of Paul and Ron, assiduously plotting our next photo opportunity next to the pool:
I know you must have something to add, eh, Paul?
Yes Jean I must – you surely do know. One of the embarrassments of our weekly catechism is not merely that I always do have “more” but that you may also often name it, but never do. And here you have put up Ron Edge and me sitting side-by-side and plotting our next repeat, or better your next repeat, which – do you remember? – put you in that pool up to your knees. Still we cannot show that until we can find it. As you also know the time spent at the last Bumbershoot pursuing our hide-and-seek for repeats of mostly shots taken at Century 21 fifty years earlier, we were often enough confounded by it all – even with our aids. Most import was Ron’s map, attached next, that superimposes an aerial of Seattle Center over a simple map of Century 21, which outlines it principal features and numbers and names them too. [Click TWICE] to enlarge.
And then Paula’s and Alan’s “The Future Remembered” – their historylink/Seattle Center Foundation golden anniversary book on the Fair and the Center was certainly helpful as well.
We also studied the several “aerials” of the Century 21 grounds taken from the Space Needle. Those, and much else, were found by Ron and allowed us to march on the Seattle Center campus with more locations than we could repeat. I think we managed to fulfill forty of these – perhaps – and none of the forty included those from the Needle. You – Jean – never made it up there, for we and our three afternoons were spent.
We added, you remember, to our horde several photographs that are older that Century 21. For instance, there’s one from the mid 1950s that looks west on Thomas Street to the Armory when it still was an armory. We will present or put that up tomorrow. One a day, we mean to put up as many of these 40-or-so as we can figure out with out revisiting the scene. Those that we cannot match for now we will, surely, later – perhaps much later. It was an invigorating three afternoons at Bumbershoot, and it was all made possible compliments of our press passes.
And so fairwell to Century 21 – its 50th. Today, the 14th of October 2012, is but one week from the 21st, the final day of this Golden Anniversary. Many of us will wonder that the half-century has passed so – with such “forward thrust” to quote the slogan of our municipal betterment campaign that soon followed Seattle’s 1962 World’s Fair. By now we, at least, are slowing down and enjoying fond memories.
We will have another fair-festival repeat up tomorrow and so on day in and day out until we run out. Tomorrow’s will look west on Thomas Street from near 4th Ave. circa 1955, and so since 1962 near the on-ramp for Seattle’s Monorail.