Originally constructed for the 1889 World Fair, the Eiffel Tower has now become one of Paris’ most iconic structures. Like the majority of the World’s Fair structures built in the 19th and 20th centuries, the Eiffel Tower was originally meant to be a temporary structure, torn down immediately after the Fair was over. At the time of its unveiling, the tower was the world’s tallest building, and because its height provided a better radio signal, it remained a permanent structure in the Paris skyline. While its design was controversial and even considered ‘vulgar’ when it was built, it also symbolized progression and innovation, a characteristic of both the pavilions and exhibits found at any World Fair.
First introduced in 1851 in London, the World’s Fair gave visitors a peak at the latest ‘high-tech’ ideas. The elevator was born out of the Dublin 1853 fair, the Ferris Wheel out of Chicago’s 1893 fair, and visitors were first introduced to ice-cream and X-Ray machines at the 1904 St. Louis Fair. The buildings, like the Eiffel Tower of 1889, were also representative of innovation, as countries competed with each other for the most fantastic, ideal structures.
Today, with the Internet and the rapid pace of innovation, the World’s Fair no longer holds the same prestige. And like the World Fair itself, the majority of the pavilions have also faded into obscurity. Some, like Seattle’s Space Needle, are a testament to the innovation of the day, but many sit abandoned and forgotten. New York based photographer Jade Doskow captures the once-majestic structures, ‘entranced with the fantastical buildings overgrown with weeds, often neglected and ill-fitting among the sleek, modern high-rises looming around them.’
Doskow has photographed 19 former World’s Fair sites, and hopes to photograph every one. She describes the importance of her project:
World’s Fairs were unique, spectacular cultural events from which one can glean worldviews that came into and out of vogue, the rise of industrialization, the rise of modernism, architectural trends and progress, and the hopes and dreams of each era… my pictures allude to the complicated goals and dreams of these magnificent events.
Click through a collection of the photos below, and visit Doskow’s site to view the full collection.