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        Expo '74: A World's Fair in Spokane, Washington with an Environmental Theme

        The year was 1974. The US was in the thick of the Cold War, and President Richard Nixon welcomed the world to Spokane. KSPS’s Reflections by the River: Expo 74 looks at the vision, the people, and the monumental effort that turned a dream into a world-class reality. 

        With these video segments and accompanying learning guide, students will use primary sources to study the development of the environmental movement in the 1970s and how Expo '74 achieved its environmental theme of "Celebrating Tomorrow’s Fresh New Environment."

        Expo '74 #1: Grand opening

        The World’s Fair of 1974 (Expo ‘74) opened in Spokane, Washington on May 4, 1974.

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        Expo '74 #2: World’s Fair Snapshot

        The creation of Spokane’s beautiful River Front Park is one lasting effect of Expo ‘74.

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        Expo '74 #3: Behind the Times

        In the 1960s, the city of Spokane began to experience economic and political stagnation, giving the city the feeling of being “behind the times.”

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        Expo '74 #4: Rejuvenation

        In the mid-1960s, political and business leaders in Spokane became interested in establishing a World’s Fair as a way to rejuvenate the city’s downtown area.

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        Expo '74 #5: Leadership

        Business leaders, Luke Williams, Rod Lindsey, Lincoln Savings, and King Cole, helped make the establishment of a World’s Fair in Spokane a reality.

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        Expo '74 #6: Obstacles

        Before moving forward with their plans, the organizers of Expo ’74 had to get approval from the International Exposition Committee in Paris, acquire land that was owned by the railroad companies, and garner public support.

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        Expo '74 #7: Save Our Station Campaign

        Spokane households were divided over the decision to remove the railroad stations to make way for the World Fair’s site. Some community members got behind a campaign to “save” the railroad stations.

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        Expo '74 #8: Political and Culture Change

        In the early 1970s, as plans for a World’s Fair in Spokane got under way, the city was experiencing significant political and cultural changes.

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        Expo '74 #9: Film Images

        Life-long Spokane resident, Ed Thompson, captured the construction of the World’s Fair site from beginning to end with 8mm film.

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        Expo '74 #10: Continued Challenges

        The organizers of Expo ’74 continued to face challenges with the project from raising funds, securing exhibitors, and lining up entertainment.

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        Expo '74 #11: Environmental Theme

        Expo ’74 was the first World’s Fair to have an environmental theme, which was appropriate given its location—100 acres of land that included two islands and a series of cascading waterfalls.

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        Expo '74 #12: Entertainment Capital

        Significant funds were spent to market Expo ’74 and attract visitors.

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        Expo '74 #13: Completion of the World Fair Site

        Final completion of the World Fair site included the building of the Federal Pavilion in 1972 at Havermale Island.

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        Expo '74 #14: Expo ‘74 Opens

        Expo ‘74 opened on May 4, 1974 to a crowd of 85,000 people and with a strong environmental theme. International exhibitors included Canada, Philippines, Korea, Germany, Australia, Iran, and the U.S.S.R.

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        Expo '74 #15: Folk Life Festival

        The Folk Life Festival offered free entertainment and localized activities such as boat building, log rolling, quilting, and panning for gold while also celebrating a variety of cultures and traditions.

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        Expo '74 #16: The Legacy of Expo ‘74

        15 million people attended Expo ‘74. Part of its lasting legacy includes the development of Spokane’s opera house and convention center.

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        Expo '74 #17: The Closing of Expo ‘74

        Expo ‘74 closed in November 1974, after a six month run. It is remembered as being perfectly conceived, a resounding success.

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        Expo '74 #18: Remaining Buildings

        Three buildings remained after the site of Expo ‘74 was taken down—the shell of the U.S. Pavilion, the Opera House and Convention Center, and the Bavarian Garden (now home to the carousel) all of which are significant Spokane landmarks.

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        Expo '74 #19: A Strengthened Community

        The closing of Expo ‘74 ushered the creation of Riverfront Park, which has become an important cultural landmark and gathering place in Spokane.

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