LONDON HAD the Crystal Palace as a legacy of the Great Fair of 1851, and still has Royal Festival Hall from the Festival of Britain a century later. Paris has the Eiffel Tower, a structure whose remarkable ugliness has been mellowed by time and fame into a kind of beauty. With such world-renowned landmarks left by the receding tides of previous international exhibitions, it does seem a pity that the glories of Expo 67 must vanish in October like the snows of yesteryear, leaving only La Ronde and Habitat to remind posterity what Expo must have been like.
This is not, of course, a matter for Canada to decide, or the decision would already have been taken. Mayor Jean Drapeau of Montreal, the father of the fair, has made an earnest plea for a stay of execution. Prime Minister Pearson has undertaken to “do what he can” to back up the mayor’s appeal to those dim mysterious authorities who control universal and international exhibitions, and decree who shall be permitted to do what thereat. Presumably they are thinking already of Expo 70 in Osaka, Japan, and making sure that no competitive relics survive to make people remember there once was another Expo that was also, in its day, the wonder of the world.
There is also the question of originality. If it is true, as a Russian official scornfully suggested, that “we saw the United States exhibit in Sokolniki Park in 1959,” and if it is equally true that the Soviet parade of its achievements in space is almost as heavy-footed as it was in Brussels, or that the Thai pagoda is shipped from one world’s fair to the next with little attempt at variety, then perhaps it may be the exhibitors and not the authorities who insist that each new exhibition shall start with a clean slate and no leftovers for invidious comparison.
But all these arguments are based on the pettiest kind of narrow expediency. Expo 67 is a beautiful sight, and heaven knows the world of ’67 has little enough that is beautiful. Surely there must be some way to prevent the destruction of this exploit in co-operative creation.
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