The World’s Fair transformed Spokane’s downtown 50 years ago

Spokane leaders sought advice from Seattle, which had successfully hosted a world’s fair in 1962, for guidance on organizing their own. They were advised that hosting a world’s fair was a great idea and should be pursued. With this advice in mind, the Spokane City Council implemented a controversial business and occupation tax that raised $5.7 million to remove railroad tracks and prepare the fair site for Expo ’74. In October 1971, President Richard M. Nixon officially endorsed the event.

Spokane received unanimous approval from the Bureau of International Expositions in Paris as an official “special exposition.” This was due in part to the efforts of Washington’s influential Congressional delegation, including Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Sen. Warren Magnuson, and Rep. Thomas Foley, who secured an $11.5 million appropriation to construct the U.S. Pavilion at Expo ’74. The three railroads also relocated their tracks away from downtown Spokane and donated 17 acres of land to the city for the construction of new routes and facilities.

Cole then focused on attracting countries to participate in the fair and managed to secure commitments from numerous nations, including Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Canada, Australia, Iran, West Germany, and the Philippines. In addition to countries, corporate pavilions were also lured with companies like Ford, General Motors, General Electric

By Sophia Gonzalez

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