Sunday, September 14, 2008

It Happened at the World's Fair!

Seattle Monorail, April 10, 1962. So I am home on a 15-day leave enroute to Hamilton Air Force Base, and Seattle is a buzz with the 1962 World’s Fair. Just a few days to squeeze in some railroad photography and attend the World’s Fair.

My sister and I head out to see the World’s Fair, and of course the only “proper” way to get there is the 1 mile ride from downtown to the Fair grounds via the monorail – transport of the future! The photo at the top of the page shows the Monorail running down 5th Avenue toward the downtown station, with the Space Needle in the background. Also, the “It’s in the PI” sign is barely visible between the first and second pylons. Later, the newspaper moved down to Elliott Avenue.

Alweg of Germany built the structure and was up and running in less than a year. The lines were long for such a short ride, but it was imperative to be “part of the future.” Alweg have provided a very interesting history of the line on their web site – I encourage you to check it out.

The other highlight of our two or three days up at the Fair was being included in a scene from the Elvis Presley flick “It Happened at the World’s Fair.” Note the “typo” Hallweg instead of Alweg. We are in the grand finale – where the guy (Elvis) wins the gal (Joan O’Brien.) and they go singing into their romantic future!

During the rehearsal, the assistant directors were herding the crowd around, encouraging everyone to shoot photographs to ther hearts content as Elvis and Joan marched by. But then we were admonished to put our cameras away during the shooting of the “final take!”

The monorail is still running, for the most part, with occasional dramatic breakdowns, giving passengers the added thrill of being rescued by the Seattle Fire Department. Monorail rescue evolutions by now, are second nature! And like most wonders unveiled at the World’s Fair, most – including the monorail - have never come to fruition …

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