Let’s bring the World’s Fair back to the U.S.
America needs to come together and get excited about the future again. I think a World’s Fair might be a great opportunity to do just that.
What happened to the moonshot mentality? When did America become the country that looked at the past with fondness but the future with trepidation?
America is the land of opportunity and optimism. It is the country that others believed had roads paved of gold. Yet, if you ask people in the country today what they think about the future, you’d likely hear a lot of pessimism.
It’s not hard to understand. The turn of the 21st century started with the technology industry crashing. Then the country suffered its largest recession since the Great Depression. If you add in the rising global challenges — like technological disruption and climate change — and partisan politics driving us apart, it’s not exactly a rosy picture.
But sitting back and pouting is not what America does. The United States is the country that defeated evil at its height, helped tear down a repressive wall, and put a man on the moon. That is the mentality we need to foster again.
I believe a World’s Fair presents a unique opportunity to bring the people of America together and return to the moonshot mentality. World’s Fairs are a way to display a vision and optimism for the future. Despite not hosting one for almost 35 years, the United States used to put on inspiring expositions of the future regularly.
Fairs like the ’64 New York Fair, the ’62 Seattle Fair, and the ’34 Chicago Fair all inspired generations of Americans to think and dream big. Anyone who went to these fairs have vivid memories of futuristic displays and palpable optimism. Yet, there are now generations of Americans who’ve been deprived of this experience. The closest thing we have to this experience today is Disney World’s Epcot, which pales in comparison.
At a time when many Americans are unsure about the future and the world is facing ever growing challenges, I think creating a World’s Fair again in America presents a unique opportunity to bring both the country and world together and create an optimism for the future once again.
On May 1st, 1851, London hosted the world’s first World’s Fair. Since then there have been at least 68 other World’s Fairs put on all over the world. But it is in the spirit of this first World’s Fair that I hope this new fair will emulate. The goal is not to copy what has been done before but instead embark on a new journey. One that once again showcases the creativity and ingenuity of the people of the world.
As Thomas Edison pointed out, any successful project is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. So with that in mind, besides getting the idea out into the world, I want to also get started on doing the work to make it happen.
That’s why I put together this proposal (PDF). The proposal looks at the successes and failures of past World’s Fairs, potential funding sources, a financial outlook, the relevant legislature, and a plan for choosing the host city.
The United States has represented the pinnacle of this theme throughout its history. It is here that people from all over the world have come to seek out new opportunities and a better future for themselves and their loved ones. It is here that the future has largely been forged. From our music to our technology, no matter where you go in the world today, it’s impossible to escape our influence. Yet if we take this for granted, it may no longer be true.
The world has never been better off than it is today but if you ask people about their prospects of the future you get mixed results. This is not something we should be happy about or throw our hands up and say that’s just how it goes. Instead, we need to dig in our heels and change that prospective. To do this we need a platform to promote optimism for the future. To show the world there are still plenty of big ideas for the future and get people excited about its prospects again. A World’s Fair presents an unique opportunity to do this on a large scale. It’s only appropriate that an exhibition of the future is once again hosted in the land of opportunity.
I’m looking for people with the motivation and skills to make this project a reality. If you’ve found this project interesting and want to help make it a reality, please reach out and let me know why you want to help and how you can help. I look forward to hearing from you.