Jack Gordon




Century 21 logo


Closing Report of the
Plaza of the States Subcommittee
Seattle World's Fair Commission

Victor Rosellini



Submitted by:
VICTOR ROSELLINI Commission Vice Chairman

Monday, January 28, 1963


THE MOST SUCCESSFUL special event at the Seattle World's Fair had three outstanding characteristics -- it reached into every state of the Union; successfully crossed partisan lines and most important -- promoted Americanism.

The events were the Honor Day programs, saluting the fifty states of the Union. The programs were held in a ceremonial area in the heart of the exposition grounds, called the Plaza of the States, a "living" exhibit constructed and operated "by the World's Fair Commission from funds voted by the Washington State Legislature.

The programs themselves were filled with "Americana" --- patriotic music, oratory, flags and national symbols -- a fitting counter-balance to the main theme of the Fair itself, the "World of Tomorrow".

The Plaza programs were created at the executive request of Governor Albert D. Rosellini, to promote the Fair and tell graphically the story of America from the time it began as the thirteen original colonies, to the status of the United States today: 50 soverign [sic]states standing united on the thres­hold of the 21st Century.

Governors of the various states were guests of honor for the days and with them came many large official delegations, bands, drum and bugle corps and vocal groups. Thousands of high school musicians from scores of states performed at the Plaza.

Hosts were Washington Governor Rosellini, the members of the World's Fair Commission headed by Mr, Edward E. Carlson, Chairman, and by Mr. Joseph Gandy, Fair President.

Guest Governors received the full "VIP" treatment and even the com­petition between the North and the South was set back as Evergreen Staters tried to out-do their more experienced Southern guests in the area of hospi­tality.

Traditional political rivalries were set aside in Plaza programs . . . Vice President Johnson and New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller shared a "day" at the Fair and each was honored with a Plaza program.

Republican and Democratic State Chairmen, Messrs. Mort Frayn and Herb Legg, respectively, "teamed" their efforts to help insure a bipartisan flavor to the proceedings. Nebraska Governor Morrison enjoyed it so much, he came back for Oregon Day with Governor Hatfield. Entertainment ranged from Alaska Eskimos and Hawaiian hula dancers to Wyoming cowboys and Indians and festival queens from Mississippi and Georgia. Mexico sent a Mariachi band for a Border State Day and Canadian bands played for a Legislative Preview Day.

In all, some 35 Governors of the states and territories personally took part and others sent representatives. All fifty states were honored. Many industrial leaders were included in the visiting groups.

Dignitaries honored at the Plaza included U. S. Space Astronaut John Glenn; U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson; U. S. Senators Estes Kefauver, Hubert Humphrey, Warren Magnuson, Henry Jackson; Secretary of State Dean Rusk; Secretary of Labor Arthur Goldberg; the President of American Federation of Labor, George Meany; Dublin's Lord Mayor Briscoe; many Congressmen including the Washington State Delegation and stars of stage, screen, radio and television.

* * *

THE PROJECT WAS CREDITED with an upsurge of national patriotism by the U. S. Governor's 1962 Conference at Hershey, Pennsylvania. The resolution was as follows:

WHEREAS the menace of international communism is spreading like a cancer in many areas of the world; and

WHEREAS the need for national goals is more paramount to every American than ever before; and

WHEREAS one of the great controversies of our time centers on national purpose;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Governors' Conference assembled in Hershey, Pennsylvania, cite as an example to the Free World the rebirth of all patriotic ideals given the Nation and free men everywhere by the programs in the Plaza of the States at the Seattle World's Fair, wherein the unity of purpose of the peoples of the respective states has been symbolized in a ceremony which is at once inspiring and edifying, transcends politics, pro­motes amity among the states, peace among nations, and is a credit to each member of the Great Union that is the United States of America; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Governors' Conference commend Governor Albert D. Rosellini of Washington for his leadership in es­tablishing this outstanding contribution to our national unity.

* * *

THE PLAZA WAS CREATED when the limitations on exhibit space at the Fair made it apparent that individual state displays or buildings were not desirable.

This situation pointed up the necessity for a program which could tie each state of the Union to the Fair in some way to attract tourists and at the same time open up a publicity vista for the Fair's promotion division.

The Governor was asked by the Corporation and the Commission to secure the endorsement of the Fair by the 1961 U. S. Governors' Conference meeting then in Hawaii, as a means of publicizing the exposition throughout the fifty states.

It was felt that the promotional value of the endorsement would carry even greater weight if the resolution contained an acceptance by the various Governors of an invitation to participate in specific state honor days programs at the Fair.

The Conference unanimously adopted the resolution which opened the door for official negotiations between the Commission and the respective states.

The success of the programs was reflected in Fair attendance not only on state days but throughout the run as visitors reported reading about their-in­state day programs in hometown newspapers which further stimulated their inter­est.

The promotional value — while difficult to measure in dollars and cents -- offset the limited costs of the program a hundred times over in the estimation of professionals in that field. Press Representatives were a part of most visiting delegations.

* * *

Chairman of the Commission's Sub-Committee, which supervised the operation of the Plaza, was Mr. Victor Rosellini. Committee members included: Representative Ray Olsen, Vice Chairman; State Senator Reuben A. Knoblauch; Seattle City Councilman J. D. Braman; Representative Leonard A. Sawyer, and Mr. Paul S. Friedlander.

The Plaza construction was supervised by the Commission Site Develop­ment Sub-Committee chairmanned by State Senator Michael J. Gallagher with mem­bers Councilman J. D. Braman; Honorable Clarence C. Dill; Mr. Paul S. Freidlander; Representative Ray Olsen; Representative Leonard A. Sawyer and Mr. Victor Rosellini.

* * *

Budget was supervised by the Commission Finance Chairman, former State Senator Howard Bargreen, with Mr. Judson Wonderly of the State Department of Commerce serving as fiscal officer and Associate Project Manager. Mr. Alfred R. Rochester, Executive Director of the World's Fair Commission, assisted. Various members of the World's Fair Commission rotated as Chairman of State Days -- many spending whole days hosting the visiting delegations.

Mr. Richard Boullion of Boullion & Williams, Architects, designed the Plaza based on the State Day idea and project format developed by Mr. Jack Gordon. Mr. Gordon served as Coordinator for each honor day program and also as Master of Ceremonies. Mr. Jim Peck was originating artist. Staff was held to a minimum with Mrs. Carol Anne Nylund serving as secretary. Greater Seattle, Inc., pro­vided administrative supervision. The staff coordinated housing, airport greet­ings, press conferences, transportation, tours of the fair, and official public affairs. The Terry Hope (H. & H.) Construction Company was prime contractor for the project. The W. Al Rowan Company provided flags, rostrom, seating, staging, and decorator services while the Corporation donated the sound system, the of­ficial band's services and police and maintainence personnel.

All professional talent was affiliated with labor unions claiming jurisdiction.

As the work load varied — there was an honor day program every other day in June — additional personnel were loaned to the Plaza for limited periods by the World's Fair Corporation; the Governor's Office; the State Patrol; the National Guard; the Commission and the State Department of Commerce and Economic Development. This procedure held costs to a minimum.

Contributions of time, energy, and talents by the Boy Scouts of Chief Seattle Council — some 5,000 strong — by members of the Washington Business and Professional Women's Clubs and other patriotic, fraternal, and service groups helped insure the success of the program and eliminated otherwise costly services.

Mr. Leo Weisfield, Chairman of the Governor's Hospitality Committee and Mr. R. C. Torrance, Chairman of Seattle Mayor Gordon Clinton's Welcome Committee greeted each Governor's party and provided entertainment. The General Insurance Company provided free state name tags for plaza visitors.

* * *

RELIGION PLAYED a vital role in the programs.

Almost fifty Protestant Ministers, Catholic Priests, and Jewish Rabbis were assigned official duties as "chaplains" for the official State Honor Day programs.

Arrangements for special invocations on the State Days were made with the Most Reverend Thomas Connolly, Catholic Archbishop of Seattle; Dr. Max W. Morgan, Pastor of the First Baptist Church and President of the Seattle Council of Churches; and Rabbi Raphael Levine of Temple de Hirsch.

The clergy were assigned on a rotating basis and hence a good number of the various Protestant and Catholic parishes as well as both Orthodox and Reformed Jewish Temples were represented in the State Day programs.

* * *

THIS WAS THE SCENE that greeted the Fair visitor as he entered the Plaza:

The fifty flags of the States ranged the periphery of the Plaza in the order of their admission to the Union.

On the stage was a huge gas-fed flame font -- symbolic of the unity of the States -- which burned throughout the 183 days of the Fair. On each State Day, the visiting Governor rekindled the flame.

The United States Flag and the Washington State Flag flanked a huge gold reproduction of the State Seal of Washington -- honoring the State's name­sake and the Nation's first president, George Washington. (The poles were donated by the Seattle-King County Area Camp Fire Girls.)

As the U. S. flag was raised by Boy Scouts, Jackie Souders' World's Fair Band played our National Anthem.

On honor State Days, the flag of the honored state was raised by the visiting governor, replacing the Washington State Flag. The latter was flown on its own pole with the other state emblems.

The ceremonies at the Fair were conducted with great dignity and mounted to a climax as the Master of Ceremonies read the roll call of the states and Boy Scouts dutifully raised each flag to the accompaniment of staccato drum rolls.

The climax came as the 50th flag of the newest State of Hawaii took its place at the top of the staff and the Chairman exhorted the audience thusly: "Ladies and Gentlemen, join with me in our applause for all the members of this great Union . . . The United States of America!"

No political convention....no hero's welcome in any city....no oratory could rival the emotion which swept the audience at that moment as Americans rose to their feet to pay tribute to the Great Union.

* * *

A carefully researched script was prepared by Guy Williams for a tribute to each state, and read by Richard Thomas or Bill Sears. William's scripts had to be submitted to each state for approval and/or revision. He also served as "floor director" during the programs.

As each state group was escorted into the ceremonial area, vocalist Paula Bane sang the program's opening musical number, Rosetta Gibbon's: "Seattle Opens Her Heart To You!" A special Plaza of the States Flag was designed for the programs by Andrew Bodin.

At the base of each flag-pole was a marker detailing information about each state including its admission date to the Union, its population, its capital city, its size, its trees, flowers, birds, and products, and its motto -- all de­signed to make history come alive again for old and young as they visited the area. A map of each state displayed historical figures and sites and each State's seal had been set in the plaque. The plaques were made by the L & H Printing Company under a supervision of Minor Pelly. The New York Publishing House, Grossett & Dunlap, donated the printing plates from the book 'The Fifty States' for the 50-State plaques.

The Plaza was originally planned as the site for State Days only -- but its attractiveness and unique position in the heart of the Fairgrounds soon made it a center for almost every special day scheduled at the Fair by the Corporation including many International Days honoring foreign dignitaries. The Plaza was also used for daily band concerts.

Each Governor was given a desk flag set as a gift of the Corporation, and a replica of his state plaque; an engraved china plate, a desk calendar set, and another plaque from the Sons of the American Revolution - 'Declaration of A Free Man' by Roderic Marble Olzendam.

* * *

WITH THE COMPLETION of the fifty State Day programs, the Plaza of the States area had its roots deep in the history of forty-nine sister states .. The addition of the display of the American State Papers, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence from the National Archives in Washington, D. C., transformed the Plaza into an area of historical significance to every American. The World's Fair Commission recently endorsed a recommenda­tion that the Plaza of the States be retained intact after the Fair's closure on October 21, 1962, as a permanent ceremonial area part of the Civic Center and forwarded the proposal to the Post-Fair Planning Committee.

* * *

THE FINAL PROOF of the effectiveness of the program could be seen long after the last musical note had sounded -- fair-goers lingering to examine the historical markers at the base of each pole and to read the inscription which is centered on the stage containing Walt Whitman's tribute to the Union, written in 1855:

"The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem . . . here at last is something in the doings of man that corresponds with the broad­cast doings of the day and the night ..."





You are at JackGordon.org,
a salute to John F "Jack" Gordon, Mr. Seattle