Saturday, November 25, 2006

Walt Disney's EPCOT Project

In the early 1960's, entertainment mogul Walt Disney was blessed with a loving family that included many grandchildren. Walt became concerned with the world in which these kids would grow up: modern cities were chaotic, dirty and crime ridden.

With the success of the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California, Walt began to dream of a far more ambitious project. What if the concepts of space and building design used in the Disneyland theme park could be used in the planning of communities, even entire cities? Walt began to devour books pertaining to urban planning, and anything else that could be usefull towards what he would later call his "prototype of the future"...
The Walt Disney company had purchased 27 400 acres of swampland near Orlando, Florida. Walt intended to use this land for his project, which was now being called the Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow, or EPCOT for short.

The original EPCOT plans used the radial (pie shaped) concept. It was to have 20 000 permanent residents, a Jet Airport of the Future, schools, stores, offices and theatres. EPCOT was to be completely enclosed, sheltered from the outside elements.
Cars and trucks would use underground passageways, while visitors and residents would rely on a monorail system to get around.An important element to Walt Disney's original plan was EPCOT's Industrial Park. Major American industries would use this facility to develop new technologies for use in the EPCOT city. Walt's idea was that visitors from across the world would be inspired by these new developments and want to implement them in their own countries.The following video is a 24-minute pitch reel from 1966, in which Walt describes the EPCOT project:


Friday, November 24, 2006

Expo 67 Souvenirs

An event the size and scope of Expo 67 is sure to have it's share of trinkets and memorabilia for visitors to take home as souvenirs.

The amount (and diversity) of items produced for Expo 67 was mind boggling: postcards, coloring books, slide photography, 8mm movie reels, stamps, keychains, coffee cups, dishes, serving trays, drinking glasses, beer steins, t-shirts, neckties, flight bags, shoes, sunglasses, match sticks, cigarette lighters, etc., etc...

This does not include the plethora of jewels, handicrafts and products that each participating country sold at their pavilions!

images: (1 and 5) library and archives Canada
(3 and 4) Janicke Morissette (
Jean-François Brière (

Monday, November 20, 2006

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

By the mid-1960's, Mavin Gaye was one of Motown's top solo performers.

In 1964, Tammi Terrell was signed by Motown founder/producer Berry Gordy, originally as a solo artist. She had a few moderately successful hits, but it wasn't until 1967, upon her pairing-up with Marvin Gaye, that she shot to stardom. Their 1967 duet album "United" spawned such hits as "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Your Precious Love".

Though Terrell and Gaye were both in seperate relationships, their artistic chemistry was unmistakeable. They convincingly portrayed lovers with their duets and Gaye even claimed that for the durations of their songs, he was in love with her.

The video presented here is from a special entitled "The Swinging Sounds of Expo 67". Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell perform "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" on the site of Expo 67.


Friday, November 17, 2006

The Suntan

The modern suntan fad was launched when Coco Chanel accidentally obtained a dark tan while vacationing in the French Riviera in the 1920's. Up until that point, a suntan was a sign of lower class outdoor labour. As these labour patterns shifted in the early 20th century, a suntan became the symbol of wealth and leisure.

Coppertone was introduced in 1944 by Benjamin Green, as a lotion to darken tans. Hollywood stars (such as Sandra Dee) were used to advertise Coppertone products throughout the 1950's and into the 60's:

By the 1960's, tanning was an artform. An entire generation baked itself in the sun using sun reflectors and baby oil.

The 1970's saw advances in tanning products, such as this ad for Coppertone QT ("Quick Tan") lotion:

The suntan fad was at it's peak during the 1970's. No celebrity represented this look better than Farrah Fawcett. Ah, that tan. That smile. That hair!

Suntanning and the smell of suntan lotion have a deeply nostalgic hold on me. They conjure up happy memories of summers as a young child.

images: (1)
(3-4) source unknown

Monday, November 13, 2006

Revisit The German Pavilion!

With over 10 million visitors, the Federal Republic of Germany pavilion was the third most visited at Expo 67 (after the USSR and Canada).

Architect Rolf Gutbrod and structural engineer Frei Otto won critical acclaim for their gleaming white tent. It was completely portable, weighing one third to one fifth less than structures of comparable size... it covered an expanse of 100 000 feet!

Our charming German hostess (sporting fab go-go boots) invites us to take a second look at this spectacular pavilion situated at water's edge on Île Notre-Dame:

Seperating walls were almost completely omitted in the exhibit area:

Natural light flowed in freely through the pavilion's translucent "skin":

The pavilion's patio restaurant was one of the most popular at Expo:

Germany's magnificent tent was particularily stunning lit up at night:

images: (1-2-4-6) library and archives Canada
(3-5) FOS productions

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Polymer Pavilion

The groovy Polymer pavilion was located on Île Sainte-Hélène, near the Metro station. The pavilion was sponsored by the Polymer Corporation of Canada, a company that, in 1967, supplied more than 90 nations with synthetic rubber, latex and plastic.

The pavilion's architecture had a fluid, molded-plastic quality. Crowning the pavilion was an intriguing metal sculpture named Curiosity, which summed up the theme of Polymer's presentation. Cylinders 3 feet wide provided entrances at the east and west sides of the pavilion.

The pavilion had 2 levels. The upper level explored the fascination of electrostatics, the phenomena of wave motion and the nature of light and color. Visitors learned about the factors that made things take their particular shape.

Along the ramps that lead from one level to another, displays illustrated the countless marvels that could be obtained by the polymerization, or mixing, of natural elements.

The lower level discussed the sub-microscopic world of molecules. Huge, blown up models of molecules could be observed. A comic exhibit of organic trickery, such as rubber made to look like cheese, demonstrated the polyvalence of polymer compounds.

images: (1)
(3) personal collection

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Barbie Doll

Barbie made her debut at the American International Toy Fair on March 9, 1959.

The doll was the idea of Ruth Handler, the wife of a co-founder of the Mattel toy company. She was inspired by watching her daughter Barbara play with paper dolls, giving them adult roles. It occured to Ruth that the toy market lacked an adult-figured fashion doll. Initially, her husband didn't like the idea and neither did Mattel's board of directors.

On a trip to Germany in 1965, Ruth Handler discovered the Bild Lili doll in a shop window. The adult-fugured Lili was exactly what Ruth had in mind. Lili was modeled after a sassy comic strip character in a daily German newspaper. Interestingly, the original Lili dolls were cigar store items aimed at an adult male audience.

Ruth Handler brought 3 Lili dolls back with her to the United States. She reworked the doll's design and named her after her daughter Barbara.

Barbie, the teenage fashion model, was born.

The late 50's and early 60's is my favorite era of the Barbie doll. The dolls and clothes of this time were of superior quality, with tiny buttons, zippers and an amazing attention to detail. In fashion, this was the Jackie-O era, and this look is reflected in the Barbie dolls of that period.

images: (top)
(bottom) personal collection

Thursday, November 9, 2006

We Are Family

For the last 10 years, I've been fascinated by Expo 67, and for about as long, my little sister has been following me in my passions.

Whether it be taking pictures on the old Expo site, hunting souvenirs in flea markets, or riding the minirail at La Ronde, she's been there all along...

Thanks, Sis!

photos: personal collection

Friday, November 3, 2006

Place d'accueil

Place d'accueil (literally "welcome area") was Expo 67's main gate, situated in the Cité du Havre portion of the exhibition. The plaza's most striking architectural element was it's roof, composed of large, groovy plexiglass "umbrellas", which were spectacular lit up at night.

Visitors that went to Expo 67 by car parked at the Victoria parking lot and took a shuttle to Place d'accueil. Most visitors, however, went to Expo 67 by Metro, which let them off directly on Île Sainte-Hélène, thus never actually seeing Place d'accueil.

Place d'Accueil was equipped with many services such as information booths, shops (including a liquor store), banks, restaurants, lounges, and a day hotel. A walkway lead directly from Place d'accueil to the CBC International Broadcasting Center.

French Canadian caricaturist and artist Robert Lapalme was asked by mayor Jean Drapeau to be Expo 67's artistic director. Mr. Lapalme created three giant murals, each over 10 meters long, for Place d'accueil. These murals named Science, Culture and Entertainment were moved to the Berri-UQAM Metro station after Expo 67, upon mayor Drapeau's request.

It is interesting to note that these murals are the only works of art on canvas in the entire Montreal Metro system.

Click here to see the murals as they appear today.

images: (1-2) FOS productions
(4-5) personal collection