• The 1958 Expo in Belgium is best known for the construction of the Atomium
    Image: Corbis
  • The Eiffel Tower was commissioned as the entrance archway to the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1889
    Image: Corbis
  • The UAE Pavilion built for Shanghai 2010 is now a permanent exhibition centre in Abu Dhabi
  • The Space Needle in Seattle was designed for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair
    Image: Corbis

World Expo Legacy

From London in 1851 to Shanghai in 2010, heritage and legacy have underpinned the World Expo concept, and the tradition for invention, innovation and the creation of enduring technological, architectural and cultural footprints continues today.

The inaugural World Expo was in London, in 1851. Six million people visited The Great Exhibition, and proceeds funded construction of the V&A Museum.

An enduring legacy from 1889, The Eiffel Tower was commissioned as the entrance archway to the Paris Exposition Universelle  (Universal Exhibition).

The first World Expo in the United States, in 1876, is famous for introducing the public to the telephone, the commercial typewriter ... and Heinz Tomato Ketchup.

Some 50 million visitors attended the 1900 World Expo in Paris, France, and marvelled at innovations such as escalators, diesel engines, Ferris wheels and talking films. It was also notable for an offshoot sporting event: the 2nd Olympic Games

The big hit of the 1904 Expo in St Louis was the humble edible ice-cream cone. Until then, ice-cream was served in metal or paper holders.

The 1915 Expo in San Francisco, USA, celebrated the completion of the Panama Canal, and served as an opportunity for the city to showcase its recovery from the 1906 earthquake.

The 1958 Expo in Belgium is best known for the construction of a giant model of a unit cell of an iron crystal, called the Atomium, which remains a landmark in Brussels today.

The first mobile phones were exhibited at Expo 1970 in Japan, but the major attraction was a piece of rock in the American pavilion. Not any old piece of rock, though. This was lunar rock from the Apollo missions that took man to the moon for the first time the year before.

The theme ‘transportation’ of the 1986 Expo, in Vancouver, Canada, was marked by the inclusion of a purpose-built monorail system, sky-train, gondolas and water taxis.

Some 2,000 kilometres of telecommunications wire were laid during construction of the site for the 1988 Expo in Brisbane, Australia, which attracted nearly 16 million visitors.

In October of this year the Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art and the China Art Palace will open on the site of Expo 2010 in Shanghai, while the award-winning UAE Pavilion has been shipped from China to the UAE and rebuilt as a landmark exhibition centre on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi.

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