Daily Picture Show

Architectural Remnants Of World's Fairs Past

My first thought when I saw Jade Doskow's photo series was: "Wait, are we still doing world's fairs?"

I mean, I guess I kind of knew the answer, since they happen pretty much every year. But still, I never really think about it. And Doskow wasn't surprised; there's been a waning interest practically since World War I.

"Barely anybody ... even knew there was an expo this year in Korea," Doskow says via email. That's right: It was in South Korea, ran for four months starting in April, and even had mascots (plankton!) and a theme song. But Doskow wasn't there to photograph it; she's much more interested in what remains years after an expo has run its course.

  • The Montreal Biosphere is the former United States pavilion from the 1967 expo.
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    The Montreal Biosphere is the former United States pavilion from the 1967 expo.
    Jade Doskow
  • Habitat 67, designed by Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, was an experiment in mass-produced affordable housing.
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    Habitat 67, designed by Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, was an experiment in mass-produced affordable housing.
    Jade Doskow
  • Man is a sculpture by Alexander Calder, who was most well-known for his kinetic sculptures and mobiles.
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    Man is a sculpture by Alexander Calder, who was most well-known for his kinetic sculptures and mobiles.
    Jade Doskow
  • Spokane 1974 world's fair, "Celebrating Tomorrow's Fresh New Environment," United States Pavilion, 2007
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    Spokane 1974 world's fair, "Celebrating Tomorrow's Fresh New Environment," United States Pavilion, 2007
    Jade Doskow
  • Brussels 1958 world's fair, "A World View: A New Humanism," Atomium, 2007
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    Brussels 1958 world's fair, "A World View: A New Humanism," Atomium, 2007
    Jade Doskow
  • Paris 1889/1937 world's fairs, "Exposition Universelle"/"La Vie Moderne," Eiffel Tower, Trocadero, and Palais de Chaillot, 2007
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    Paris 1889/1937 world's fairs, "Exposition Universelle"/"La Vie Moderne," Eiffel Tower, Trocadero, and Palais de Chaillot, 2007
    Jade Doskow
  • New York 1964 world's fair, "Peace Through Understanding," Unisphere, 2009
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    New York 1964 world's fair, "Peace Through Understanding," Unisphere, 2009
    Jade Doskow
  • New York 1939 world's fair, "The World of Tomorrow," New York State Pavilion, 2009
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    New York 1939 world's fair, "The World of Tomorrow," New York State Pavilion, 2009
    Jade Doskow
  • Grand Mosque (Great Mosque of Brussels), Location: Brussels, Belgium, Architect: Ernest Van Humbeek, Tunisian Boubaker
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    Grand Mosque (Great Mosque of Brussels), Location: Brussels, Belgium, Architect: Ernest Van Humbeek, Tunisian Boubaker
    Jade Doskow
  • Chicago 1933 world's fair, "A Century of Progress International Exposition," Site of North Lagoon, 2008
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    Chicago 1933 world's fair, "A Century of Progress International Exposition," Site of North Lagoon, 2008
    Jade Doskow
  • Paris 1937 world's fair, "Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne," Trocadero, 2007
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    Paris 1937 world's fair, "Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne," Trocadero, 2007
    Jade Doskow
  • New York 1964 world's fair, "Peace Through Understanding," Airplane, 2011
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    New York 1964 world's fair, "Peace Through Understanding," Airplane, 2011
    Jade Doskow

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In short, "world's fairs" or "international expositions" have been big affairs since the mid-1800s. Technically, it's not an official, traveling event like, say, the Olympics, which has an international committee and a standard, every-four-year format.

The Sunsphere in Knoxville, Tenn., was constructed for the 1982 world's fair.

The Sunsphere in Knoxville, Tenn., was constructed for the 1982 world's fair. Jade Doskow hide caption

itoggle caption Jade Doskow

International expos are regulated by the Bureau International des Expositions in France, and are rooted in England's Great Exhibition of 1851. The idea was to showcase the latest innovations in science and technology — products of, and tools that would catalyze, the industrial revolution.

The tradition traveled overseas, and soon it was practically a yearly affair that often involved the construction of a monument, if not several: the Eiffel Tower, the Crystal Palace in London, Seattle's Space Needle. Even today, many landmark structures around the world are products of an international expo. Take Knoxville, Tenn., my college town, for example. The Sunsphere, which has even made a cameo in The Simpsons, was the skyline's key feature.

While the fair in Korea was under way, Doskow was in Montreal, documenting what remains of the 1967 fair — including the former United States pavilion, now called the Montreal Biosphere, a sculpture by Alexander Calder and "Habitat 67" — an architectural experiment in housing alternatives.

"Some of the most important architects of the 19th and 20th centuries were commissioned to construct fair pavilions, dazzling, unusual structures incorporating the most cutting-edge materials and engineering prowess possible at the time," Doskow writes in an artist statement. "Among them are McKim, Mead and White, Louis Sullivan, Gustave Eiffel, Le Corbusier, Ando, Mies van der Rohe and the landscaping of Frederick Law Olmsted."

Doskow hopes to photograph every past site and "allude to the complicated goals and dreams of these magnificent events," she writes.

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