Does the U.S. really need another World's Fair?

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In 1893, Chicago astounded the world by constructing, on the shores of Lake Michigan, the grandest exposition the world had ever seen, the legendary White City. While the expense almost overwhelmed the city, the fair made the town a player on the international scene and was a source of pride for an entire generation of Americans. This in part explains the eagerness of several U.S. communities to host an event of the magnitude of a World's Fair.

According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), a Houston marketing executive is spearheading an attempt to bring the World's Fair to Houston in 2020. The first hurdle to be overcome is the fact that the U.S. is no longer a member of the sanctioning body, and therefore couldn't host an official World's Fair such as that scheduled for Shanghai in 2010.

A larger hurdle, however, is posed by the abysmal financial record of expos in the U.S. since the New Orlean's fair of 1984 went bust. Washington's enthusiasm for expos is so wane that Congress has forbade the use of public funds to pay for for a pavilion in Shanghai.



Another group, according to the WSJ's Daniel Michaels, is trying to pull together a non-sanctioned U.S. Expo in Las Vegas, while a San Francisco expo expert is pushing the city to pursue a world-class event such as the World's Fair it hosted in 1915.

Frankly, I'd be shocked if any large expo was able to get off the ground until our economy turns around, unless it is funded as part of a stimulus package. Of course, given the wide range of programs already falling under that banner, perhaps that idea isn't so very far-fetched.
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