Astana joins the expo tradition: A photo review of past expos

Astana is on the world’s stage this summer as the capital city of Kazakhstan hosts the biggest international exposition in Eurasian history.

The theme of the 2017 Astana expo is “Future Energy,” and the event highlights new energy technologies. The expo, which began June 10, runs through September 10.

Astana joins a long line of key cities that have hosted international expositions, or expos. The tradition goes back to the 1790s. What were then called world’s fairs — and are now called world expos — became large events with big themes that might appeal to universal tastes. Smaller, specialized expos, like Astana’s, concentrate on narrower topics, usually addressing specific global challenges and offering innovative solutions.

Regardless of size, expos showcase countries’ best products, whether in technology, manufacturing or agriculture, and boost the local economies of host countries. Here’s a look at some memorable international fairs and expositions:


Iron latticework tower with fireworks (© AP Images)
(© AP Images)

The Eiffel Tower, one of the most famous symbols of Paris, was built for the 1889 Paris World’s Fair. It was named for its architect, Gustave Eiffel, who also helped create the Statue of Liberty in New York. The 1900 Paris World’s Fair popularized art nouveau (which means new art) design. Paris has hosted several international exhibitions.

New York

Poster for the 1939 New York World's Fair (Library of Congress)
(Library of Congress)

The 1939 New York World’s Fair looked ahead at the “World of Tomorrow.” It boosted American spirits at the end of the Great Depression. New York hosted the first U.S. “Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations” — or world’s fair — in 1853.


Artistic shot through extensions of a futuristic building (© AP Images)
(© AP Images)

The Atomium was the main pavilion and icon of the world’s fair of Brussels in 1958, commonly called Expo 58. It celebrated technical and scientific progress and offered an optimistic vision of the future. A lunar eclipse is seen above through the building’s bars and spheres.


Housing complex in Montreal (© Getty Images)
(© Getty Images)

Expo 67 in Montreal took place as Canada celebrated its 100th birthday as a nation. The theme was “Man and His World,” and 62 countries participated. A modular housing complex, Habitat 67, was built for the 1967 event. It is still home to hundreds of Montreal residents.


Latticed, red-painted wall with people behind it (© AP Images)
(© AP Images)

The 2010 Shanghai world expo drew a record 72 million visitors. It was the first to be held in China. The theme was urban sustainability. Turkey’s futuristic pavilion is depicted above.


Poster featuring the spherical expo building, a tower and other structures (© Josh Studl)
(© Josh Studl)

Wind turbines are features of the poster for Expo 2017 Astana, underscoring the “future energy” theme.

The expo venue boasts what the organizers call the “largest sphere-shaped building in the world” in a complex designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture.

Exhibits at the USA Pavilion at Expo 2017 seek to inspire with this message: “The source of infinite energy is within all of us. It’s the energy that fuels our dreams and brings us together to do amazing things.”