The First World Fair: Seattle 1962
Seattle hosted the world’s fair in 1962, making this the first international exposition in the United States since 1939. The fair showcased an American City best known for tall timber, white rapids, waterfalls, fishing, and the gold rush heritage of its history. A competition was held by the cities leader to create a monumental fountain dramatizing the Pacific Northwest’s abundance of water , which allows it to be a leading hydraulic power industry. The idea was that it would become a permanent centerpiece, first for the main entrance of the fair, and then as a civic landmark. There were over 250 entries competing for this honor.
The competition was won by two Japanese architects who had created a gigantic international fountain featuring parabolic light plumes of water and a sloped basin filled with white rocks which symbolized the unknown terrain of the galaxies. The water shot to heights of over 40 feet, and was constantly changing to create shapes like stars and flowers. This idea is still retained in the fountain today. The fountain was symbolizing man’s effort to ascend to the heavens and explore space. The site of the fountain became Seattle Center, where a complex of theaters, museums, exhibitions, restaurants, and sports arenas are located, attracting over 8 million visitors each year.
The fountain plaza is a popular area for cultural festival and concerts. Upgrades to the fountain were made to allow for improved safety, allow for greater disabled access, and to upgrade the overall status of the landmark in Seattle, as well as the whole state of Washington. The sloping basin was created this way to remove hazardous rocks, creating an elegant spiraling ramp from the plaza level to the base of the fountain. The dome of the fountain was redesigned. The titles were replaced in stainless steel, and the height and breadth was increased. The redesign was completed in 1995, including comprised controls, so it no longer needed to be hand operated.
The fountain features a one hour water program where the water is synchronized to music and lights. The climax features a sudden explosion of water that shoots 150 feet into the air. During the summer it is a popular site to visit, as children play in the fountain sprays, just like a sprinkler. The fountain that was designed, originally, to represent the extraterrestrial and unknown, now represents a large water toy and popular landmark to the city of Seattle.