Montreal Expo 1967, through the eyes of Lillian Seymour
April 3, 2006 8:03 PM   Subscribe

Montreal Expo 1967, through the eyes of Lillian Seymour is a giant pile of found photos scanned in by our very own clockwork. There is much to see in this time capsule of 1967 taken by this person. The women of Poland, interesting architecture, and quite possibly the scariest clown ever (I bet that kid required years of therapy). [via mefi projects]
posted by mathowie (38 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I didn't find that clown scary at all - eh, I'm a sucka for bagpipes and boys in kilts.

Now photographing 200 clowns (many of them with hangovers) for the 100th Santa Claus Parade in Toronto...that was scary.
posted by avocet at 8:11 PM on April 3, 2006

Unheimlich cool. Thanks!
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:17 PM on April 3, 2006

posted by HTuttle at 8:24 PM on April 3, 2006

This is great. I love how all the architecture is 60s Brutalist style. Man, why did they think building everything out of dramatically-sculpted concrete was a good thing?
posted by killdevil at 8:25 PM on April 3, 2006

The earliest 'internet'.

A giant map inside the base pavillion letting you actually GO to a location in a few small steps.

(NYC '64-65, they're not all Expo '67 pics)
posted by HTuttle at 8:29 PM on April 3, 2006

killdevil, you've got to be kidding me. Why didn't more people realize how cool it would be if everything were made out of dramatically-sculpted concrete?

posted by adamgreenfield at 8:30 PM on April 3, 2006

why did they think building everything out of dramatically-sculpted concrete was a good thing?

Because it put the people in their place, so to speak. Your role is to admire the sculptural qualities of the edifice they've created -- any actual use of the building would be wholly irrelevant. It's not a building, it's a gigantic piece of sculpture that happens to have doors.

You were supposed to admire the building, admire the architect as Creator, and abase yourself accordingly.

...of course, I would argue the same is true of certain famous architects today, but that's a whole other story.
posted by aramaic at 8:32 PM on April 3, 2006

Great series. Thanks for scanning and posting them.

One more year and you'll make a fortune for the 40th anniversary.
posted by bru at 8:40 PM on April 3, 2006

Caaa-nah-daaaa! (one little two little three Can-a-di-ans) Weeeee love theeeee! ... (Sorry, Real format only). More about Bobby Gimby's masterpiece here. Come for the piping voices of the little children, stay for the smooth horn solo.

Or maybe you'd prefer Ben McPeek's orchestral version or, better yet, the official theme of Expo 67, "Hey Friend" (yeah, still Real).

If you're a Canadian of a certain age, you know every damn one of these.

If you missed out, take a sonic tour of Expo, or visit an Expo retrospective here.

(Awesome job, clockwork. Thanks!)
posted by rosemere at 8:45 PM on April 3, 2006

The scary architecture is Habitat 67, still a desirable address. Here's a great photo from the days of its construction.
posted by zadcat at 8:58 PM on April 3, 2006

Fantastic link. Thanks. Up until I saw these pictures, Expo '67 was but a ghost lingering about the burnt out shell of the biosphere.
posted by missbossy at 9:03 PM on April 3, 2006

Also, years after the Expo, Robert Altman shot this terrible / amazing / fascinating / unspeakably boring Paul Newman movie at the site.
posted by dersins at 9:03 PM on April 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

The scary architecture is Habitat 67, still a desirable address.

Tried a sublet a few years back. The roof leaked, and it was cold. I left.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:07 PM on April 3, 2006

Future Penguin Hideout!
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:10 PM on April 3, 2006

An aside: Oh, come on, aramaic. That's just not so! You're gonna tell me that the Unite d'Habitation was about "putting people in their place"? Or the Barbican? You couldn't even really make that critique stick 100% in a place where it probably had a grain of truth to it, like Alexanderplatz.

One of the reasons that Modernism (and its cousin, Brutalism) have such a bad rap in our times is because of unconsidered slagging like that. And yet the architecture you're ragging on was a product of a time which by and large believed in the future, believed that there would be a future.

It's more than can be said for our time, or for most of the architecture which came afterward. Modernism, all the way back to the Bauhaus, has a fine humanist pedigree, even in its poured-concrete manifestation, and it hurts me to see this forgotten in favor of the sour, cheap, secondhand, received snark that comes out of Tom Wolfe.

And now back to our pleasant enjoyment of World's Fair pix. : . )
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:13 PM on April 3, 2006

oooh, I loved these photos. What a treat!
posted by seawallrunner at 9:23 PM on April 3, 2006

Great photos, even the Gacy-esque groundskeeper willie clown.
posted by supercrayon at 10:05 PM on April 3, 2006

I so want to see that creepy dinner party now!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:47 PM on April 3, 2006

why did they think building everything out of dramatically-sculpted concrete was a good thing?

Because Québec concrete is the best. At least that's what they thought when they made all those buildings, overpasses and other structures that are crumbling and totally falling apart nowadays. But they've put nets under them, so don't worry, you won't get a concrete tombstone.
posted by kika at 10:57 PM on April 3, 2006

I remember TV commercials for Expo '67; our neighbors across the street actually went. Cool to see the giant Uniroyal Tire as the ferris wheel it was originally intended to be. That same tire still sits proudly alongside I-94 outside of Allen Park, Michigan.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:25 PM on April 3, 2006

MH, not sure how many of these are actually Montreal (as opposed to the 1964-5 NYC World's Fair), but just the premise of this post is great. Because I was at both as a two and four year-old.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:27 PM on April 3, 2006

I went with my family in '67, but I don't remember very much. Well, not much that hasn't blurred in my memory with "Up With People". (I had no idea they were still around until I just googled.)

Anyway, thanks for the link!
posted by trip and a half at 12:08 AM on April 4, 2006

nothing to add except that dramatic concrete is cool. yes.
maybe not so fun to live in, but definitely cool.
posted by juv3nal at 12:17 AM on April 4, 2006

Not so much concrete:

Architects of social consciousness were thinking of solutions to cover more space with less material and for less money in ways that didn't rob the individual of his identity. At the same time these architects wanted to make a creative statement. So when participating countries held architectural competitions for their country's pavilions, some unusual architecture evolved.

Perhaps the most innovative concept to be used at Expo was "space- frame" architecture. In an effort to "Do more with Less" architects covered large spaces cheaply and flexibly, by distributing the building's weight over a wide area, and by using complex techniques involving aluminum, plastic and other materials.

posted by bru at 4:10 AM on April 4, 2006

I can remember wandering through the ruins of the pavillions in the late 80s. Since then almost everything has been razed except for the beautiful French pavillion (it's now a casino) and the giant buckyball of a US Pavillion that is now the Biosphere.
posted by furtive at 4:53 AM on April 4, 2006

This pavilion scares me a little.

Anyone actually go to a World's Fair? My family went to the one in Knoxville in 1982.
posted by SisterHavana at 6:40 AM on April 4, 2006

Hey!! That's exactly where I'm from!!

I was concieved in St. Lambert, that summer, just across the river from the site, very likely after my young lovebird parents spent the day strolling around expo 67...

Good times, man, good times.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:02 AM on April 4, 2006

In the basement of the house I bought a couple of years ago was a box of old home movies including three or four rolls of Expo '67 - one labelled "good shot of Diefenbaker".
posted by Rumple at 9:34 AM on April 4, 2006

Great post! I spent a lot of time there, as my brother lived on site.

To add to bru's point, the original intent was to demolish all of the pavilions once the expo was ended. This was so that no one would be burdened with maintaining the structures. However, a few of them were "adopted" by the City of Montreal and formed the basis of a theme park. For example, the U.S. sponsored Biosphere was turned into a giant aviary, with full grown trees inside. One sad day, sparks from a welding torch ignited the plastic cladding and the whole structure burned down in minutes. I recall the welder answering a question about what kind of fire extinguisher he had by saying that he "didn't carry one, but [he] tried to put the fire out by peeing on it. Unfortunately, [he] didn't have enough!"
posted by RMALCOLM at 9:54 AM on April 4, 2006

Anyone actually go to a World's Fair? My family went to the one in Knoxville in 1982.

Expo 86 in Vancouver. It was pretty impressive to me as an 11-year old; in retrospect, though, there wasn't the sense of far-out futuristic cool that Expo '67, the Seattle world's fair, or the various New York and Chicago ones must have had.
posted by arto at 11:11 AM on April 4, 2006

For me, the best thing about Vancouver Expo86 was the front page of the Province, a local (crappy) tabloid. There were a lot of complaints about Expo and the negative impact it had on the downtown east side (the poorest neigbourhood in the city) as some of the poor were kicked out onto the street to make way for tourists who could pay more. I believe at least one person died because of it. Princess Diana came to the city to see the Expo as well. One acquaintance of mine worked for the Province and managed to get the infamous headline published "See Expo and Di".
Also - good post. I like the faded pictures that make everything look paler in the 60's.
posted by Zack_Replica at 1:24 PM on April 4, 2006

Wow, this is pretty freaky. You are looking at my earliest clear memories of my life here. I was there, at two (or maybe three - we may have been there in 1968) years old, with my parents. Somewhere I have a small box of photos of all of us at this expo... maybe I'll dig 'em out and flickrize them!

Riding the mini-monorail was pretty awesome! As was the Montreal subway, with its nearly silent rubber tires - I was used to NYC trains, which are pretty much the opposite of quiet.

And inside the big Buckyball, there was this huge pachinko-like machine loaded with soccer balls, endlessly shooting them up to the top and bouncing down again. It seemed like it was 10 stories tall to 2-yr-old me... things are much smaller now. :)

These buildings here I believe were used to represent the Science Directorate HQ building in New Chicago in the 80s "Buck Rogers" TV series - they were shot from a very low angle looking straight up the sides.

They bought me a purple shirt with a Canadian flag on it that was my favorite shirt for as long as it would fit over my head.

I remember we didn't stay in a hotel or motel, but in a boarding house in what seemed like a fairly central part of Montreal, where the owner lady spoke mostly French, which fortunately my dad had some rudimentary skills in, heh.

We went to Niagara Falls later that week, which was also pretty amazing to me.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, clockwork!
posted by zoogleplex at 1:32 PM on April 4, 2006

The 'Scary Clown' in question is in fact my late uncle Hamish who spent his life helping kids with terminal illnesses with his clown outfit and bagpipes, i'm really f***ing offended by him being referred to as 'scary'.
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:58 PM on April 4, 2006

Kilted clowns and bagpipes, that's how I want to enjoy the last few days of my terminal illness.
posted by furtive at 4:56 PM on April 4, 2006

There are two pages missing from the beginning of the scrapbook that probably would have indicated that they were New York World's Fair pictures. I guess now I have to re-tag and re-group them!

There's an extensive website for the 1964 New York World's Fair, (thanks, mechaZardoz) including ad copy for the Chrysler Exhibit pictured here.

I was surprised to learn that my grandparents on both sides of the family visited the the Montreal World's Fair. I sometimes entertain pointless fantasies about them all waiting in the same line to buy souvenir hats.
posted by clockwork at 5:10 PM on April 4, 2006

I'm not very good at this trolling thing.
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:08 AM on April 5, 2006

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