Ultra Swank - Retro Adventures

Hop On The Monorail to Century 21

Written by Christopher Alm • June 26th, 2009
Hop On The Monorail to Century 21

I wish there were more expositions like the one held in Seattle in 1962. Going under the name Century 21, it showcased the best, brightest and most future minded technology available at the time – including pagers, exciting cars that looked like they could fly, various satellites and the NASA Mercury project to name a few.

The grounds of the fair were divided into different areas for easier navigation with names such as World of Science, World of Century 21, Show Street, Gayway, Boulevards of the World, Food and Favors and so on. I love how the photos below bring out the innocence and positive future thinking from that time, something that the world needs more of today I think.

Below is a 15 minute film produced at the fair for Bell Systems (yes the phone company), centered around their pavilion and showing off their latest technology breakthroughs. It starts with a ride on the Monorail from downtown Seattle and follows two youngsters and their adventures around the fair, ending up in a trip up iconic Googie landmark the Space Needle, which has become synonymous with Seattle. The movie is well worth seeing.

Images via Gorillas Don’t Blog and The University of Washington Libraries

Christopher Alm

Christopher founded Ultra Swank in 2005. Has a crush on mid-century graphic design, defunct airlines, Disneyland and the Century 21 Exposition. Is a collector of easy listening music from the 60s and 70s and a Swedish expat living in Barcelona, Spain.

Find out more about Christopher Alm

  • Great pictures and it is a treat to eat in the Space Needle.

  • I wouldn’t know Charles, seeing I have yet to visit the needle. But I trust your Californian judgment.

  • I was there when I was perhaps 20 and stayed at the Tropics Motel–a great tiki-themed motel–that has since been bulldozed of course. The Alweg monorail is a blast. We rode it from the Space Needle to the Bon Marche to go shopping. On vacation, it’s important to spend LOTS of money.

  • Sounds like a great trip Charles! I wish there were Tiki-themed bars, motels and monorails here in Sweden also. I agree with you about spending money, it’s important to do whatever you like and have fun on vacations. Money is meant to be spent!

  • If you want to check out an industrial film about part of the Fair, check out http://www.archive.org/details/Century21964
    It’s rather drab but it’s got the Capitol Hi-Q library in the background and opens with Roger Roger’s Vitesse from the Sam Fox library.

  • Thank you Yowp. I guess you got too overexcited reading the post so you didn’t even see that I embedded that one movie in it?

  • I see what the problem was, Chris. I didn’t hit “continue reading” so I didn’t see the video embedded.

    The Space Needle is about 135 miles south of here. It’s been many years since I’ve been up to the restaurant up top. It’s a fun little elevator trip.

    By the way, I’m looking forward to more of your music compilations. I’ve been trying to collect copies of the music on the Hi-Q library ‘L’ series.

  • nlpnt

    From what I understand, the Seattle monorail is a functional part of the city’s transit system (if a short line), not just a touristy thing.

    There’s an MST3k-dubbed version of the film that’s worth finding too.

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