Saturday, July 21, 2012

1982 World's Fair

In 1982, the city of Knoxville, Tennessee hosted the 1982 World's Fair.

The theme of the fair was "Energy Turns the World," with the focus of the fair being largely that of energy,  the use of resources, and innovative ways of creating power.

But the fair was so much more than that, and I have fond memories of my family's visit to it.

Here's a commercial about the fair. I remember that the 1982 World's Fair was being talked about in the news, and I remember listening to a radio program that was going on about it. It really heightened my anticipation of going to see it.

My family did a road trip to the fair, staying overnight in Knoxville. The Holiday Inn where we stayed was next door to the fair itself, and gave us a wonderful view of it even before we got it. It all looked so wonderfully exciting and modern (circa 1982). 

The most recognizable structure of the fair was the Sunsphere, a tower with a golden glass-enclosed top, which housed a restaurant and an observation deck. We got the chance to go up, and to get a bird's eye view of the whole fair. The entire architecture and style of the fair was modern, and oriented toward showing what the future would bring.

Here's an video overview of the fair, which gives you a general idea of what it was like. 

The fair featured pavilions from many countries, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, United States, and  West Germany.

I remember that the United States' pavilion, pictured above, was huge, and focused strongly on the energy theme of the fair. It displayed various innovative sources of energy, such and wind-power windmills.

However, not all of the pavilions were oriented around that theme. I remember that the pavilions of Peru and Egypt contained displays of ancient artifacts. Peru's exhibit derived from the ancient native cultures of Peru, and Egypt's from that of ancient Egypt.

Hungary, the country from came Rubik's cube, notably had a huge, rotating, automated Rubik's cube on display.

At around the same time, McDonald's was featuring these commemorative World's Fair glasses. Of course, we had to get some, which we still have.

In a way, the 1982 World's fair was one of the things that I remember as starting the optimism and vibrancy that marked the '80s. It was, along with the first launch of the space shuttle in 1981, the release of the hostages that same year, and the launching of MTV around the same time, part of what kicked off a time that I still remember as colorful, hopeful, and positive.