Expo 88 in Brisbane (via Brisbane City Council)
After visiting Paris, Chicago, Barcelona, New York City, Montreal, St. Louis, Melbourne, Seattle, Brussels, and Knoxville, Atlas Obscura’s final stop in this epic tour of World’s Fair relics is Brisbane, Australia, host to the fair in 1988.
Like with Knoxville, Brisbane had its own towering landmark for World Expo 88 — the Skyneedle, a 289-foot tall monumental tower constructed especially for the fair.
The Skyneedle (via Wikimedia)
Unlike the Knoxville Sunsphere, however, Brisbane never intended to keep it; fair organizers were in talks with the then-new Tokyo Disneyland to relocate the Skyneedle there after the fair’s close. But a Brisbane businessman and hairdresser, Stefan Ackerie, outbid Tokyo Disney and bought it instead, so it could stay in Brisbane.
Ackerie then moved it to his salon’s corporate headquarters, adding his logo to the Skyneedle’s tip. The logo was later removed, but Ackerie still has ownership of the Skyneedle, occasionally rigging up light shows from the tower for special events. The Skyneedle has since been re-named “Night Companion,” but most in Brisbane still know it as the “Skyneedle.” A local band even named themselves “Sky Needle” after the structure.
The Peace Pagoda (photograph by Richard Fisher)
Brisbane’s other showiest relic is from Asia. Nepal’s pavilion at the 1988 fair took the form of a traditional Nepalese Peace Pagoda, and is one of only three such pagodas to be found outside Nepal. It is a close copy of a pagoda in Kathmandu, India, and amid the Buddhist statuary and Sanskrit inscriptions, the pagoda has prayers for peace in four languages.
Detail of the Peace Pagoda (photograph by J Brew)
The Peace Pagoda was one of the most popular exhibits at the Brisbane fair, with Sir Edmund Hillary himself — the first person to scale Mount Everest — among its admirers. Today the Pagoda sits in Brisbane’s South Bank Parklands, close to its former 1988 Fair location.
Check out this vintage visit to see more of the wonders of Expo 88!