Marvels Of The World's Fair

Live Television

Whether you know it as TV, telly, or idiot box, in the modern age it is hard for many of us to imagine a world before television. Although there were some broadcasts before 1939, they mostly existed as scientific and engineering troubleshooting and were not meant to be viewed by the general public. That all changed at that year's World's Fair in New York City, when the Radio Corporation of America sent the world's first public broadcast, given even more historical merit for the event's chief guest, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It took a full decade for people to figure out how to record television broadcasts, so video of this major milestone has unfortunately been lost to the ages.

In 1876, perhaps an even greater achievement in communications occurred when Scottish inventor Alexander Graham Bell presented his latest creation, the telephone, to its first public audience at the World's Fair in Philadelphia. A little less than 100 years later, the television and telephone came together in the form of the picturephone, also made by the Bell Telephone Company, which also debuted at the 1964 World's Fair.


Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered the scientific mechanism behind X-rays being made in 1895, successfully imaging the bones of his wife's hand, but it was not until Thomas Edison and Clarence Daly began tinkering that a reliable X-ray machine was first built. They wanted to show it in 1901, but the shooting of President William McKinley in town during the fair spoiled things. The funny thing is that if his doctors had access to an X-ray machine, they might have found the bullet hidden in his stomach. Instead, it was shown in 1904 and changed the field of medicine forever.

Favourite Meal

The 1904 St. Louis World's Fair was also a major event for snackers, popularizing now-dominant foods, from ice cream cones to iced tea and even hamburgers. The fair was a great place for food companies to show off their latest products, such as the notable case of the Philadelphia Exposition in 1876 when a small company named Heinz premiered its all-new tomato product "catsup", which today is commonly known as But it is known as ketchup.

Major Monuments

Too often, buildings built for the World's Fair don't last. In fact, as beautiful as the images of the fairgrounds of cities like Chicago and St. Louis are, most of the buildings were made of stucco rather than sturdier materials like stone and were never meant to last more than a few months. However, there are some notable exceptions to this trend, such as the Space Needle in Seattle. The tallest structure west of the Mississippi River when it was built, it wowed guests of the 1962 World's Fair with its futuristic design and impressive observation deck. Similarly, the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris was designed by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World's Fair with no intention of lasting more than 20 years (which was still very impressive by comparison). However, advances in radio technology made the tower useful for broadcasting, which became particularly important for military security during the World Wars.

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