Alden B. Couch Seattle World's Fair slide collection, 1959-1970

Overview of the Collection

Couch, Alden B
Alden B. Couch Seattle World's Fair slide collection
1959-1970 (inclusive)
1961-1962 (bulk)
118 color slides (1 folder) ; 2"x2"
Collection Number
Collection of slides of Seattle World's Fair exhibits and exhibit models, with emphasis on the Pavilion of Electric Power
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 2065431929
Fax: 2065431931
Access Restrictions

Entire collection can be viewed on the Libraries’ Digital Collections website. Permission of Visual Materials Curator required to view originals. Contact Special Collections for more information.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Alden B. Couch was the Sales Director of the Puget Sound Power & Light Co. (now Puget Sound Energy). He oversaw the design and construction of the Pavilion of Electric Power at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. Born on April 2, 1906, in Bismarck, North Dakota, Couch and his family moved to Zillah in Washington State's Yakima Valley when he was 6 years old. He graduated from Washington State College (now Washington State University) in 1929, and served as a lineman for Puget Sound Power & Light from 1947 to 1956 in Seattle and Bremerton until his appointment as Sales Director for the company shortly thereafter. At age 90, Couch moved to the town of Langley on Whidbey Island to be closer to his son, William, and would there spend the rest of his life. He passed away on February 11, 2008, at the age of 101.

Historical BackgroundReturn to Top

The Seattle World's Fair, also known as the Century 21 Exposition, took place between April 21 and October 21, 1962. The fair was originally conceived in 1955 as a celebration of the American West that would also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, but it soon became clear that the projected date was far too ambitious. New operating dates were established, and fair organizers decided that a new theme was needed, as well. As the Space Race intensified, the United States grew increasingly determined to demonstrate its strength and leadership in the realms of science, technology, and space exploration to the rest of the world; thus, man's new role in the age of space became the fair's central theme. Five major areas, or "worlds," were developed to represent this new theme, each occupying its own separate area of the fairgrounds:

The World of Century 21--Housed in the Washington State Coliseum, this area featured exhibits by Pan American World Airways, General Motors, the American Library Association, and RCA, as well as Washington State's own circular exhibit entitled "The World of Tomorrow," which offered fairgoers a 21-minute audio-visual "tour of the future."

The World of Science--The United States Science Pavilion (now the Pacific Science Center) was built for the Seattle World's Fair and was designed by University of Washington alumnus Minoru Yamasaki, who would later design the World Trade Center. Inside the pavilion, the massive exhibit was divided into five major sections, the content and presentation of each conceived by a special advisory committee of over 100 internationally recognized scientists. Each section focused on a different aspect of science--development, methods, recent innovations and future implications--culminating in what was widely regarded as the greatest scientific exhibition ever conceived.

The World of Commerce and Industry--The largest and most varied of the fair's five themed areas, the World of Commerce and Industry consisted of two major divisions, foreign and domestic, and stretched to opposite ends of the fairgrounds. Dozens of foreign exhibits were housed in several buildings on the International Plaza and the International Mall. Thirteen domestic exhibitors, such as IBM, General Electric, Bell Telephone, and the Standard Oil Company of California, each had their own pavilions. Exhibits by H.J. Heinz and the National Cash Register Company, among others, were displayed in the block-long Hall of Industry, while the Interiors, Fashion, and Commerce Pavilion presented daily fashion and interior design shows, along with other commerical and industrial exhibits.

The World of Entertainment: This $15 million performance arts program featured the best in theater, music, dance, and sports from around the world. The 3,100-seat Opera House hosted performances by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, the Folklorico Dancers of Mexico, and the New York City Ballet Company

The World of Art: Other important segments of the fair were the Food Circus, located in a large building near the center of the fairgrounds; the Gayway, which featured rides, midway games, and other amusements; and Show Street, the adult entertainment center of the fair. All areas were tied together by the Boulevards of the World, or Boulevard 21, which became known as the "shopping center of the fair."

The Pavilion of Electric Power, sponsored by the Electric Utilities of Washington, was located on Boulevard 21. It was built to showcase the hydro-electric potential of the state and to highlight innovative new methods for producing low-cost electricity. A 40-foot high dam formed the backdrop of the pavilion, over which three thousand gallons of water would spill each minute. Floating in a pond at the base of the dam was a 22-foot relief map of Washington State which featured illuminated plastic blocks, lamps, and neon tubing highlighting the principal power dams of the state, the transmission network and cities with populations over 10,000. A wide ramp led to an upper exhibit area containing three consoles which afforded fairgoers the opportunity to operate the electronic features of the map while a recorded narration described the future of low-cost power in Washington State. Other features of the pavilion included an old-fashioned waterway run by water from the dam which demonstrated early attempts to harness hydro-electric power, an animated display illustrating how nature's water cycle and dams work together to produce electricity, a model of an atomic power generating plant, and new methods of harnessing solar power-- the solar reflector and the silicon cell. The final exhibit described the beneficial by-products of the hydrolectric dam: irrigation, recreation, navigation, conservation, and flood control. An information booth was located on the upper level of the pavilion, with attendants available to answer questions and provide additional information on the production of electricity to visitors leaving the pavilion.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Most photographs were taken by Alden Couch, and the rest appear to be purchased from a set of professional World's Fair souvenir slides. Couch's photos focus on the design of the Pavilion of Electric Power, documented through various stages of models. Couch also captured scenes of Fair construction, including the Space Needle, the Washington State Coliseum, and the United States Science Pavilion.The remainder of the photographs show the final structure of the Pavilion of Electric Power and several of the Fair's other exhibits. Also included is the Official guide book, Seattle world's fair, 1962 : Century 21 Exposition

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

View the digital version of the collection

Restrictions on Use

Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation, or publication. Contact Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries for details.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

Source: William Couch, 2008.

Processing Note

Processed by Wesley Nelson, 2011.

Accessioned as PH2008-031.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Architectural ModelsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
The address and executive meeting depicted are probably related to the design and development of the Pavilion of Electric Power.
Folder item
1 1 October 1960
1 2 April 1961
Folder item
1 3 November 1961
1 4-11 January 1962
Vetoed models
These models represent early architectural designs requiring additional work before final approval.
Folder item
1 12-15 1960
1 16-18 March 1961
1 19-22 June 1961
1 23-25 June 1961

ConstructionReturn to Top

Features major buildings and other World's Fair structures in various stages of completion.

Container(s) Description Dates
Space Needle
Folder item
1 26 November 1961
1 27-30 November 1961-January 1962
Washington State relief map, Pavilion of Electric Power
This 22-foot relief map highlighting the major cities of Washington State, 60 present and proposed dams, and the electrical transmission system of the region, became a permanent and popular feature of the Pavilion of Electric Power.
Folder item
1 31-34 November 1961
1 35 April 1962
Other Buildings
Folder item
1 36 1961
1 37 1961
1 38 1961
1 39-42 March-June 1961
1 43 September 1961
1 44 January 1962
1 45 April 1962

Pavilions, Exhibits, and Feature AttractionsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Pavilion of Electric Power
Folder item
1 46-47 April 1962
1 48 April 1962
1 49 April 1962
1 50 April 1962
1 51 May 1962
1 52 May 1962
United States Science Pavilion
Folder item
1 53 April 1962
1 54 April 1962
1 55 May 1962
1 56-57 May 1962
1 58 May 1962
1 59-60 April-May 1962
1 61 September 1962
1 62 September 1962
International Fountain
Folder item
1 63 May 1962
1 64 December 1969
Folder item
1 65 September 1962
1 66 January 1962
1 67 April 1962
1 68 April 1962
1 69 April 1962
1 70 April 1962
1 71 April 1962
1 72 April 1962
1 73 April 1962
1 74 May 1962
1 75 May 1962
1 76 May 1962
1 77 May 1962
1 78 May 1962
1 79 October 1962
1 80 September 1962

Professional Souvenir SlidesReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Folder item
1 81 December 1961
1 82 January 1962
1 83 January 1962
1 84 January 1962
1 85 January 1962
1 86 January 1962
1 87 January 1962
1 88 January 1962
Final Models
Folder item
1 89 December 1961
1 90 January 1962
1 91 January 1962
1 92-93 January 1962
1 94 January 1962
1 95 January 1962
1 96 January 1962
1 97 January 1962
1 98 January 1962
1 99 January 1962
1 100 January 1962
Folder item
1 101 1962
1 102 January 1962
1 103 January 1962
1 104 January 1962
1 105 January 1962

Official Guide Book of the Seattle World's FairReturn to Top

Selected pages from the guide book advertising World's Fair pavilions and exhibits, along with ads for local establishments and other regional attractions that may be of interest to those visiting the fair.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Corporate Names

  • Century 21 Exposition (1962 : Seattle, Wash.)--Photographs (photographer)

Geographical Names

  • Seattle (Wash.)--Photographs

Form or Genre Terms

  • Slides

Titles within the Collection

  • Official guide book, Seattle World's Fair, 1962 : Century 21 Exposition

Other Creators

  • Personal Names
    • Couch, Alden B (photographer)

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Visual Materials Collections (University of Washington)