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Tiki Central Forums » » General Tiki » » Tiki Archeology - The Hawaii Pavillion - 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Image Heavy)
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Tiki Archeology - The Hawaii Pavillion - 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Image Heavy)
Sabu The Coconut Boy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2002
Posts: 2804
From: Carson, California
Posted: 2006-04-21 9:31 pm   Permalink

I've been collecting info on the Hawaii Pavillion at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair for some time now. I think I'm drawn to this building (and the Exposition in general) because it juxtaposed Primitive with the Modern - Tikis with the Space Needle. Lately I've made a few new acquisitions, (thanks a million to filslash for pointing me towards one of them), so I thought I'd put them together into an archeological post.

Back in 1959, just after the land was bought for the 1962 Expostion, but before ground had been broken yet, Century 21, (the sponsor), put out a ring-bound booklet which was given to prospective exhibitors. It stated:

"Never before, perhaps, has world civilization been so absorbed in its own future. The rockets that man sends overhead are marking paths which he will follow. He seeks to free himself from the the bounds of Earth. it is the aim of the Century 21 Exposition to portray this new era - to take its millions of visitors from the cultures of today's world into the multihued projection of what lies ahead - to preview the ways man will work and play and live in the year two thousand."

This booklet was filled with amazing artist's-renderings of what the fair might look like. Most bore very vague resemblance to the fantastic architecture that was actually created. Here is an early artist's conception of the Hawaiian Pavillion:

(Larger image

Already there were hints of the "12-sided Polynesian longhouse" structure that would later be built. The bizarre tiki in the foreground was probably based on an old two-mouthed tiki in the Bishop Museum in Hawaii. This style of tiki was discussed in another topic here:

A later Artist's rendering that appeared in the official program was still probably drawn before the building was actually built. It's close to the final structure but differs in several key aspects; most notably the African-like shields on the end of the roof beams:

(Larger image here)

I love the space needle in the background of this image:

Here's a postcard photo of the final structure

(Larger image here)

"When the idea was kindled for a Hawaii Pavillion at the Seattle World's Fair, the civic-minded business men back of the project agreed that all efforts must be pointed toward a single goal: To create, in Seattle, an exhibit representative of Island lore and culture, one that would be entirely appropriate of the traditions and hopes of the nation's newest state, and one which, above all, would capture the true spirit of Aloha."

Here is a photo of the building being constructed

(Larger image here)

"To house this exhibit, a large peak-roofed structure of contemporary Polynesian architecture was erected. The traditional Polynesian "longhouse" was reshaped into a 12-sided "circle" encompassing a 600-seat theater in which Polynesia's golden-skinned entertainers could perform for World Fair audiences."

The Palm Trees planted at the Pavillion were actually shipped all the way from Hawaii

(Larger image here)

The Tikis

In the postcard image, a tiki is easily visible in front of the structure

I always thought this tiki looked like it was carved from fern wood. Fern-wood tikis seem to all be carved in a fairly traditional style. Here are some fern wood tikis that have appeared on TC as examples:

But what about the two giant tikis at the left-hand edge of the postcard

Based on the woman standing in front of them, these tikis must be at least ten and fifteen feet tall. Did they actually carve fern-tree tikis this tall?

Evidently they did.

(Larger image here)

The Polynesian Review

"Theater lights dim, a haunting blast sounds on the ancient conch shell and the Polynesian Revue transforms the World's Fair play-goeer into a musical wonderalnd of the Islands. During this armchair journey to Polynesia you savor authentic Island lore and culture, both old and new, in a spectacular revue which ranges fro mthe beautiful and romantic hula of Hawaii into the exciting, pulsating drum dances of Tahiti and the savage, tribal and ritual dances of Samoa and Tahiti.

Every performer in the Polynesian Playhouse is Island born and reared, and was selected personally by Entertainment Director Sonny Nicholas in a mammoth talent hunt which ranged from Hawaii to the far islands of Tahiti and Samoa.

Starring in the hula solo is Kauionalani Dowsett. A familiar name to Islanders and visitors alike, she has thrilled audiences at leading Hawaiian resorts and hotels with her enchanting presentations. The Tahitian princess is lovely Lona Tika, whose precision movements delivered at a machine-gun tempo are an unforgettable highlight of the Polynesian Review. Nine other dancing girls are in the show, along with such spectacular performers as Faauila Malala, the Samoan Sword Dancer and fire Walker. The unique harmony of the Hilo Hawaiians is the musical feature of the show - a most memorable "visit" to the Islands."

Here are some photos of the Review

Other Attractions

The Hawaii Pavillion also housed a Clothing Store where you could buy Muu-muus and Aloha Shirts, Dole's "Food's of Hawaii" concession stand, and a Flowers & Perfume shop.

There was a record store where you could purchase Hawaiian lps, and a Photography shop, where you could buy color films of the eruption of Mauna Loa and have your photograph taken against a backdrop portaying the Hawaii Pavillion with the Space Needle in the background. I would love to find one of these souvenir photos, but alas, they still elude me.

Here's a photo of the dedication of the Confection Shoppe called "Hawaiian Treats" where you could buy macadamia nuts, Hawaiian toffees and candy leis. (note the tiki tiled into the wall):

Finally a great photo of the Fair General Manager getting a lei and a kiss from the Cherry Blossom Princess with the Pavillion in the background:

(Larger image here)

Hope you enjoyed this small tour. Post other images if you've got 'em. I'd love to see what else is out there.




[ This Message was edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2006-04-21 22:41 ]

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Phillip Roberts
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 09, 2003
Posts: 1665
From: OAHU/Seattle
Posted: 2006-04-21 9:38 pm   Permalink

[ This Message was edited by: filslash 2008-09-16 14:03 ]

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: May 11, 2002
Posts: 77
From: Brentwood CA
Posted: 2006-04-21 9:56 pm   Permalink

Aloha Sabu,
I was 17 when we visited the Seattle worlds Fair. I guess I was mesmerized by the Space Needle and the Monorail, because I don't remember the Hawaiian pavillion at all. Mahalo for the opportunity to see it again. By the way the huge musical water fountain at the old fairgrounds has been restored to working order and the locals kids love running in and out of the dancing waters.


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 1566
From: Mass.
Posted: 2006-04-22 04:08 am   Permalink

Nice research work and thanks, Sabu.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 17, 2003
Posts: 1438
From: Volcanic area of France
Posted: 2006-04-22 04:14 am   Permalink

sabu is my idol. I love the way you do your threads, and your archives are amazing.
thanks for all that

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 02, 2002
Posts: 290
From: Seattle, WA
Posted: 2006-04-22 07:37 am   Permalink

Wow !! What an awesome post, Sabu ! I love all three artist's renderings ( esp. that 2nd one) and the in-progress photos. Thanks so much for sharing all these great images and info.

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Jeff Central
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 23, 2002
Posts: 1700
From: Columbus, Ohio
Posted: 2006-04-22 08:32 am   Permalink

Very nice posting Sabu, thank you. Your attention to detail is astounding! Post's like these are what make TC stand out from the crowd. You are truly an asset to TC and are a true Tiki Archeologist!! Keep up the good work!!!

I hope to see you at the Tiki Oasis this year with a few more of your scrapbooks. That was so much fun last year.

Cheers and Mahalo,

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 25, 2002
Posts: 1563
Posted: 2006-04-22 09:59 am   Permalink

Oh man! What an awesome post Sabu!

Just a stellar example of Urban Archeology, with stunning images from Sabu's collection! Thanks so much for this...

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 10, 2006
Posts: 39
From: an island in washington
Posted: 2006-04-22 12:52 pm   Permalink

Being a past Seattlite, I really appreciate this post. I didn't know all that. How cool! Maybe the Seattle Folklife Festival might be interested in exhibiting your collection.

[ This Message was edited by: J.S.G. 2006-04-22 12:53 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Dec 28, 2005
Posts: 1689
From: Mission Beach, CA
Posted: 2006-04-22 1:04 pm   Permalink

Mahalo Sabu! I love this history stuff!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2002
Posts: 2244
From: seattle, wa
Posted: 2006-04-22 1:05 pm   Permalink

being a new Seattle-ite..i really appreciate this thread too! lots of love and work went into your research!

let me know if there's a 'holy grail' of 1962 Seattle World's Fair... i've been going to a few estate sales a week, and i'd be happy to look through paper stuff, if i knew what to look for!

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Tiki Bree
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 05, 2002
Posts: 252
Posted: 2006-04-22 6:32 pm   Permalink

Thank you for the fascinating and informative post!!!! I was mesmerized by the narrative that accompanied the images and am very appreciative of all the time you spent to share this treasure with us.
I attended the New York Worlds Fair and remember tiny bits of Hawaii's exhibit...mostly the fresh pineapple slices on a stick.......but I just loved your collection of Seattle. Thank you!!!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 26, 2002
Posts: 485
From: Denver, CO
Posted: 2006-04-23 6:57 pm   Permalink

Excellent job Sabu! We need to see more of these from that massive collection of yours.


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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Oct 20, 2004
Posts: 11
Posted: 2006-04-23 10:34 pm   Permalink

As a kid growing up in Seattle, I saw that pavilion many times. Years after the World's Fair, I would spend a lot of time at the former fair grounds renamed the Seattle Center. In the 70's, the pavilion roof was moved to the aumusement park section of the grounds and housed an old fashioned penny arcade.
Then when video games took off, the structure and the old games disappeared. I kept hoping that the structure would be reborn somewhere else at the Center, but I never saw it again.

Thanks for a great post.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 17, 2004
Posts: 331
Posted: 2006-04-26 4:47 pm   Permalink

Hey Sabu, amazing post and very informative. I have been wondering (for many years now) who carved that particular style of Tikis in Hawaii, now we all know… Kalani, I’ve got a few pieces of reference with his carving, it is so distinctive, yet I never had a name or anything to put to his work.

Keep up the great work,


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