Saturday, October 29, 2011
It Is Over A Quarter Of A Century Since Vancouver's Expo '86 Closed
This abandoned floating McDonald's used to be known McBarge. McBarge's official name was Friendship 500.
Those who see McBarge nowadays call it McDerelict.
McDerelict, in its heyday, floated at Vancouver's Expo '86.
Expo 86's official name was the 1986 World Exposition on Transportation and Communication. Expo '86 was a World's Fair that took place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from Friday May 2 until Monday, October 13, 1986.
It is hard to believe it is over a quarter of a century ago that Expo '86 closed.
I went to Expo '86 twice, both times in late September. The crowds were huge as the World's Fair neared its closing. I enjoyed both my visits to Expo '86, but both times I ended up with the worst headaches of my life. And the second visit, close to the closing, I found myself in the most pressing crowd situation I have ever been in.
On at least one of the visits I went on the McDonald's McBarge. I suspect I had a fish sandwich and a strawberry milkshake. And probably fries. McBarge was near the Malaysian where I had satay for the first time.
I remember being sort of embarrassed by how bad the United States Pavilion was. It was all about the space program and somehow managed to be sort of boring. I remember riding the skyride that crossed the fairgrounds, with a couple Canadians in the capsule with me. When they realized I was American they asked what I thought of the fair. Very impressive, I told them, but I'm sort of embarrassed by how bad the American Pavilion is. The Canadians acted all pleased that I was being so honest about the American Pavilion and told me a lot of Canadians were disappointed by the American Pavilion, but liked the Washington, Oregon and California Pavilions.
I thought the same thing. The Pavilions that the west coast states built for Expo '86 were much better than the U.S. Pavilion.
In the Washington Pavilion you entered through a shower of stars, leading to a tunnel through which you rode a moving sidewalk called a Travolator, fitting with the Transportation theme of the Expo. As you traveled the Travolator movie scenes of Washington passed you by. Eventually you ended up in an exhibit hall called Discovery Place.
I found the Soviet Union Pavilion to be interesting. The Soviets showed a movie all about how peaceful the Soviets were. I don't remember if they were still in Afghanistan at the time. The Canadians cheered the Soviet movie. My American point of view saw the movie differently. I remember the Soviet Union Pavilion at Expo '74 in Spokane as being much more sinister, what with a huge Lenin head greeting you at the entry.
The Pacific Northwest has had 3 World's Fairs. Each of them successful. Vancouver's was by far the biggest. Spokane's the smallest.
Both Seattle's Century 21 World's Fair and Vancouver's Expo '86 had monorails. Seattle's still exists. Vancouver's was dismantled after the fair and shipped to England to be re-assembled at a theme park called Alton Towers.
Ironically, Vancouver's monorail was much more useful than Seattle's. Vancouver's took you all over the fairgrounds. Seattle's monorail just went, and still goes, back and forth from Seattle Center to the heart of downtown Seattle at Westlake Center, about a one mile ride.
After Expo '86 much of what was constructed for the fair remained in use, with the False Creek zone of the fairgrounds being developed for multi-uses. It seems like keeping the Expo '86 monorail in Vancouver would have been a good thing.
The era of World's Fairs in the United States seems to have come to an end. Was it the dud in New Orleans or the one in Knoxville that discouraged other towns from going to the bother? I don't know if the world's fair in San Antonio was a dud or not. I do know the Texans built a tower, like the Space Needle, with a revolving restaurant at the top, called the Tower of the Americas.
I also know that on those rare days when it is not cloudy the view from the Space Needle's revolving restaurant is a bit more scenic than the view from the Tower of the Americas,