The United States Pavilion

Expo '74 and Riverfront Park Tour - Stop 11

In 1974, Spokane became the smallest city to ever host a World's Fair. The community used the opportunity to re-vitalize the depressed downtown district. The Great Northern Railroad Depot, which had occupied the centrally located Havermale Island for the better part of a century, was torn down. In its place, Spokanites erected many buildings and opened up outdoor spaces, the seeds of which would later become Riverfront Park.

The largest structure of the fair was the USA Pavilion. Its motto was "Man and Nature: One and Indivisible." In keeping with the environmental theme of the show, the structure was built to resemble a giant tent, with grass and trees on the inside. Totem poles were displayed as a symbol of the continent's past, and visitors were shown displays about the environmental concerns of the day. Visitors were also treated to the world's first IMAX movie, "Man belongs to the Earth." The title of which was taken from a quote mistakenly attributed to Chief Seattle. Visitors were delighted and terrified by a whirlwind tour over the grand canyon. Bags were handed out for the many guests who suffered from "airsickness."

The cloth cover, which was never meant to last, was removed. Due to the actions of Spokane citizen groups, the skeleton of the USA Pavilion still stands today amid Riverfront Park. It contains a winter skating arena and still houses an IMAX screen.

Video

EXPO 74 and the Environment
Interview with Dr. J. William Youngs of Eastern Washington University. Footage courtesy of Youtube user chris digiorgio used with permission.
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Man Belongs to the Earth
Clip of "Man Belongs to the Earth." One of the first Imax films. Shown at Expo. Courtesy of Archive.org
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Images

Audio

Historian and Professor Bill Youngs

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Map