A Vintage Photo Tour of Famous World's Fairs

The World's Fairs were all things—beautiful, obscene, capitalist, futuristic—and now all we have are the photographs and the memories.

In 1851, London hosted the first major world's fair. Titled The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, the fair featured industrial achievements from various nations around the world. Hosted in London's opulent custom-made Crystal Palace, it featured a glittering array of new technologies, from an early fax machine to a telescope to the world's largest diamond.

This world's fair project was, in a way, an early triumph of liberalism. Its success promised (among other things) that free trade and capitalism would not only save us—they'd launch us into a brave new future. In addition to highlighting great inventions that promised to elevate humanity to new heights, the 1851 world's fair promised that nations could cooperate on the basis of shared human ambition instead of tearing each other apart.

Around 100 world's fairs and two world wars later, we've landed in the era of neoliberalism, the Internet, and climate change (the end result of cutthroat capitalism). The world's fairs have become world expos, and their scale has been compressed alongside technology itself.

But once upon a time, the world's fairs were glorious and highly dangerous occasions. Today, they are both relics and omens that can teach us about the mistakes of the industrial revolution while also embodying the beauty of human creativity.

World's Fair Community


Encyclopedia Britannica

After the great success of London's fair, the world saw an explosion of fairs. Between 1880 and the start of World War I, over 40 fairs took place in nations around the world, including Australia, Guatemala, and Hanoi (which was located in then-Indochina, now Vietnam).

Postcard from the Hanoi Exposition Wikipedia

The United States' first world's fair was actually not a notable success. It took place in 1853, in New York City's Bryant Park. It featured its own Crystal Palace and included displays like those featured in London, as well as a new sculpture collection. Walt Whitman wrote a poem about the event, titled "Song of the Exposition":

"... a Palace,
Lofter, fairer, ampler than any yet,
Earth's modern wonder, History's Seven out stripping,
High rising tier on tier, with glass and iron facades,
Gladdening the sun and sky - enhued in the cheerfulest hues,
Bronze, lilac, robin's-egg, marine and crimson
Over whose golden roof shall flaunt, beneath thy banner, Freedom."

Still, the US's first World's Fair ended up losing money. The Crystal Palace burned in 1858, and the US wouldn't host another fair for 20 years. Today, the Palace is remembered fondly by some, though The New York Times called it a "fleeting monument to conspicuous consumption"—something that could perhaps be said of all world's fairs.

Bryant Park's Crystal PalaceWikipedia


Bryant Park's Crystal PalaceReddit


The New York Times

1855's Paris world's fair was more successful than its New York counterpart. Though it also lost money, it had such a positive influence in France that Paris would hold four subsequent world's fairs in 1867, 1878, 1889, and 1900.

The 1855 event saw the unveiling of some fascinating inventions, including the Loysel percolator, which could make 2,000 cups of coffee per hour. The washing machine and the Colt six-shooter revolver both debuted. It was boom-town for product-sellers.

The 1889 fair would also see the installment of Paris's most iconic attractions—the Eiffel Tower.

The Paris World's Fair 1889Culture Trip


Views from the Eiffel Tower in 1889Atlas Obscura


The Interior of the Grand Palace in 1889Brown University Libraries

By 1900, industries across the world had exploded, and the Paris fairs were unveiling the latest money-making attraction: spectacular talking films that combined image and recorded sound to create the experience we now call "the movies."

Le Palais de l'Électricité and the Château d'Eau at the 1900 Paris World's FairBIE


The Grand Palais at the 1900 Paris World's FairBrown University Library


The Palace of Illusions at the 1900 Paris World's FairBrown University Library


Les Courses de Ballons at the 1900 Paris World's FairAtlas Obscura

By 1893, New York City was back in the World's Fair game. Known as the World's Columbian Exposition, the US's first truly great fair was a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's violent takeover of what would become America.

The Columbian Exposition occurred 28 years after the American Civil War, and as usual, the nation was trying to cover its bloodstains with crystals and lights, attempting to unify by rallying around industry. It was the Gilded Age, and extreme economic inequality allowed Chicago to drop tons of money on fairs while leaving its people on the street.

Electrical Building, 1892Pinterest


"With many Americans wondering if sectional conflict had given way to class conflict, American political and economic leaders followed the example of their peers in Europe and turned increasingly to the medium of the world's fair to provide the cultural cement for their badly fragmented societies," Robert W. Rydell writes. Underwritten by industrial titans like J. P. Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and William Waldorf Astor—who collectively gave $15 million to the fair—as well as major Chicago titans like Cyrus McCormick and Marshall Field, the fair began to come together around 1880.

At the time, women and African Americans fought mostly white male-led committees to ensure they had a place at the fair. At the time, African American artists and inventors were given a separate day to showcase their work, and women were granted a few rooms of their own, so to speak. (It's interesting how much—and how little—has changed).

The Chicago World's Fair occupies an honored position in American memory, but it was a truly gory occasion in many respects. At the end of the fair, the city's beloved mayor was killed in his home. The book Devil in the White City tells the story of America's first serial killer, who tortured and killed up to 200 unsuspecting victims in a castle-like homed before and during the fair. (Admittedly, whether Christopher Columbus and his colonial ilk could be counted among serial killers should be discussed in a different article.)

The Great Fire at the Chicago World's Fair, the destruction of the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building, 1894 lookandlearn.com

Another famous American exposition happened in 1915 in San Francisco. During this fair, which marked the completion of the Panama Canal, visitors were able to witness the first transcontinental phone call. The occasion also officially marked San Francisco's recovery from a devastating earthquake in 1906. The fairs could be healing forces, opportunities to channel decay into forward movement.

In 1939, New York hosted its own World's Fair in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens. Its theme was "The World of Tomorrow." Attractions included a brand new subway line, dozens of massive pavilions, and an Albert Einstein speech about cosmic rays. The fair was conceptualized as a way to lift the city out of the Great Depression, and it eventually collapsed due to the onset of a little conflict known as World War II.

Postcard from the 1939 New York World's FairEtsy


New York's World's Fair in 1939The Atlantic

Then in 1964, the fair returned to Flushing Meadows. In keeping with the spirit of the 1960s, the festival's slogan was "Peace Through Understanding."

neplains.com


The Atlantic

The 1964 New York fair featured some of the more futuristic architecture ever seen.

The General Motors Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's FairFlickr

For their first few centuries of existence, world's fairs were typically Western endeavors, but Japan broke this trend in 1970 when they hosted a fair in Osaka. The fair featured hovercrafts, early mobile phone prototypes, and plenty of space-race technology.

messynessychic.com


The Japan Gas Association Pavilion (which was filled with laughing gas)messynessychic.com

Osaka will actually be hosting the next World Expo in 2025, with the theme "Designing future society for our lives." According to the event description, "Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai will be a place to co-create a sustainable society that can support the aspirations of all through the sharing of new ideas from each participant." Maybe the world's fair is growing alongside the times.

The original world's fairs are never coming back, which is probably for the best. They were emblems to a capitalist dream and an ideal of endless progress, which was usually paid for by colonial efforts in the first place. But they sure look beautiful in the photos.

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An endangered species is not a tragedy, because if a species is endangered, then they aren't yet extinct.

Sadly, there are millions of endangered species across the world, all facing threats that mostly stem from human activities. Still, it's not too late. Take a gander at these majestic animals, and then donate to a wildlife fund or environmental activism group of your choice.


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Do Non-Melatonin Sleep Aids Really Work?

Objective makes a chocolate square.

I Can't Sleep.

I truly cannot remember the last time I had a good night's rest. Even before the stay-at-home orders, I was just a little ball of nerves.

But lately, it's been awful. I toss and turn, it's always too hot or even too cold, sometimes I make myself tea and read for a bit, but when I'm still up at 1 a.m., I reach for my phone and then I'm up until 3. My sister and I have a weekly call, and our small talk about our exhaustion turned into an hour long conversation about sleep.

I Thought I'd Tried Everything. Even Melatonin.

My sister asked why I hadn't gone for the old staple, melatonin and I reminded her about the time we traveled abroad, and it gave me the weirdest nightmares (the horrible kind where you wake up in your dream and you're still in a dream). Chamomile tea didn't work, nothing worked.

She said she had a friend who swore by something I definitely hadn't heard of.

They Were NOT Pills, Teas or Anything I'd Seen Before.

A company called Objective makes Fast Asleep, a sleep solution delivered as chocolatey treats. They're created with saffron and GABA. If going to sleep was as easy as eating a piece of these chocolatey, minty delights every night, I'd be sold.

What Exactly Was In It?

Cocoa contains caffeine, so I didn't know how this would help me sleep. After talking with my sister, I went online and saw that the calming, sleep-supporting ingredients cancel out any of the very little caffeine content.

Saffron, the spice, is apparently known to help with staying asleep, and their GABA is a fermented version of the neurotransmitter that's known to help you relax and fall asleep faster. In a study, 100% of customers saw improvement in their sleep quality thanks to saffron. One hundred percent!

Do I Try It?

A bag of 30 pieces was only $40, and they had a money-back guarantee.

They're keto-friendly and only 30 calories a piece, so not too decadent before bedtime.

They were chocolatey-minty, which is my favorite flavor, so I was sold. I ordered a bag to try.

The First Night, I Wasn't Impressed.

I took one piece (super yummy!) - 30-60 minutes before bedtime is recommended - but when I climbed in, I didn't notice a difference. I was worried I'd wasted my money.

However, once I fell asleep, I stayed asleep until my alarm went off, which hasn't always been the case for me.

I checked the site again, and noticed that many people didn't notice a real difference until the third or fourth night - it builds up in your system over time, so I decided to keep an open mind the rest of the week.

The Second Night Was Completely Different

Without doing anything differently from the first night, my second night was amazing. I felt calm and sleepy as I was getting ready for bed, and once I hit the pillow, I was out the whole night.

It had to be these sweet treats. The next day, I even felt more balanced and relaxed - Fast Asleep helps boost serotonin levels and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), and I definitely noticed a difference in my overall mood and alertness.

I Already Ordered More.

Just In Case! There's nothing habit-forming about this product, so it's completely safe to take every night, and I honestly always want to keep it in the house. I'd also love to offer it to anyone staying over in the guest room, whenever we have guests again.

Now that I'm getting a healthy 8 hours of sleep every night, I feel more equipped during the day to tackle the things I need to do and deal with some of my daytime stressors. I finally had the energy to clean the kitchen, which had been bothering me so much for the past few weeks.

With Objective's Fast Asleep, I get real sleep and balance my levels, so I don't have to feel tired during my waking hours. Sleep in the form of chocolate squares sounds so weird, but oh my goodness, do they work.

Our partners at Objective Wellness are currently offering a 25% discount if you use the coupon code STAYHOME. Check them out here!

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The Best Apps for Craft Beer Delivery

Try beers from all over the world–from your phone.

With breweries and distilleries out of business for the foreseeable future, your favorite beer may feel particularly out of reach this time of year, especially with the weather changing. But don't let quarantine suck all the fun out of summer. Luckily, thanks to technology, a lot of craft beer is now deliverable straight to your door step. Here are a few of the best apps to help make sure you stay up to date on the latest trendy brews.

Tavour

Tavour

Simplistic and elegant, Tavour allows users to easily fill up a box of beer over a period of time before shipping. The app offers more than 650 different breweries both local and national and is perfect for those who like to experiment. It's easy to use, and their menu rotates regularly so you and your beer never grow stale.

TapRM

TapRM

TapRM offers a wide range of both craft beers and hard seltzers. While based almost exclusively in New York City, the app offers fast, same day delivery from some of the best beer brands in the world. They also provide a unique selection of beers to help you find your new favorite. All you need to do is download the app and place your order!

Drizly

Offering a stark variety of craft beer, Drizly allows its users to mix and match 12-packs, sixers or by the bottle. Their guarantee is that they can have whatever you order delivered to your house in less than an hour. You can even schedule your delivery for a specific time, with each delivery taking around 20-40 minutes.

Saucey

Saucey takes delivery very seriously. When you order with them they guarantee that they'll deliver in 30-minutes or less, or they guarantee two day shipping. Also, beer aside, their entire liquor cabinet is also up for grabs. From tequila and whiksey, to vodka and wine, nothing is off the table for Saucey.

Beer Menus

BeerMenus

For those who enjoy strictly local beers, BeerMenus features a tap list from local bars and a broader stock list from your neighborhood beer store. With that, you can make sure to create a list of your favorite beers in your neighborhood, so that when they're in stock you can be ready to go.