THE NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIRS ------------------------ John Pazmino NYSkies Astronomy Inc www.nyskies.org firstname.lastname@example.org 2009 April 13
Introduction ---------- A history, social and cultural and civic, of the two 20th century fairs was presented by Mr Ron Marzlock at the Science Industry business Library on Thursday 8 January 2009. The little lecture room in the lower level quickly filled to capacity with about 60 people by door-closing at 17:30 EST. Mr Marzlock noted that his talk stresses the New York City world's fairs of 1939-1940 and 1964-1965. He reminded that, in fact, over the ages, the City hosted THREE world's fairs.. The very first, not named as such, was the Crystal Palace exhibition in the 1950s on what is now Bryant Park. The pavilion burned down soon after the fair. The audience consisted of a smooth gradation of generations, to include people who attended the one or the other fair, or BOTH. On the other hand, there were no children or others who obviously missed the last world's fair. Marzlock made an innocent suggestion at the start of his talk: If you have questions or comments, please give them during the talk. This is a polite and common way to run a lecture, in place of holding the Q&A until the end of the presentation. In this instant case, it was a mistake, but a wonderful one. I can not replay everything from the talk. I give a general collection of statements and comments blended from Marzlock's statements, those of the audience, and extra ones from me.
1939-1940 ------- The idea for this fair came from a group of business professionals who wanted a way to pep up the City during the Depression. They got favor from the City to use land in Corona, Queens, then a dumping site for brooklyn Ash Company. The land was purchased and additional land was taken by condemnation to assemble a plot of some 6 square kilometers. The land was along Flushing Creek fronting Long Island Sound. There was at the north edge the Willet's Point subway station on the IRT flushing line and a Willet's Point station on the LIRR Port Washington line. The brand new IND Queens Bv line was just commissioned at the south edge. The low areas of the plot were filled in and let to settle. The idea was to build a town of pavilions for countries to exhibit the world of tomorrow. American industry could also have pavilions. After the fair, the land would be cultivated into a grand park for Queens with a couple structures from the fair becoming park halls.
Robert Moses ---------- The entire enterprise was ruled by Robert Moses. He at the time held the chairs of so many municipal and state agencies that he had little trouble getting approval for his plans. In many cases, all did was move a request from one side of his desk to an other, then signing off on it. One spinoff of the construction was the network of highways thruout Queens. Moses despised transit and believed that the automobile is the vehicle of the future. He laced Queens with just about all of its present grid of highways, with only finishing touches added after World War II. After the war, when th transit system was under municipal management, Moses refused to allow new subways to run within the highway corridors. This forced, as one example, the IRT flushing line to end in downtown Flushing and not extend farther east over the Long Island Expressway. It took four years to build the fair, with the guests taking care of their own pavilions. To rouse up excitement, the fair ran tours of the construction progress. Mush of the construction was done by crews under federal agencies, like the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps.
Insulting exhibits ---------------- The fair had attractions that today would be out of order. The first was a village staffed by midgets. They went about their life for the visitors to marvel at. There were at the time Liliputia sections in Coney Island. Today such a show would earn a massive human rights civil lawsuit and a raft of criminal charges. There was also a hoochie-koochie section whose female crew wore scanty outfits. At the time such behavior was sometimes handled as a crime. A national pavilion nearby was so put off by this area of the fair that it protested by not flying its flag! I forget which country Marzlock mentioned. The pictures showed ladies in clothes actually a bit MORE covering up than is typical today on a summer's day in the City.
Transit access ------------ In spite of Moses's hatred against transit, the World's Fair had a dedicated subway line built into it. This fair was the very first ever featuring a direct transit link to it and remains today among the very few fairs since then to be so favored A spur of the IND Queens bv line, itself only a couple years old, was built. It tapped off of the mainline at Forest Hills station and curved north into the south end of the fairgrounds. The terminal was a temporary one, the only IND station intended to be later closed. Court St on the IND Fulton St line was closed from falling ridership. It was a permanent structure still used today for the Transit Museum. The spur was torn up after the fair but a short piece remains in use today. It turns trains that end their runs at Forest Hills and moves trains to and from the Jamaica (Kew Gardens) yard. This section is entirely underground, except when it comes onto the surface in the yards.
IRT & BMT ------- The IRT had direct service to the fair on its Flushing line, fed by the 2nd Av 'L' and Steinway/42nd St subway. This line opened in about 1918 with tracks for rushhour express service. Queens was too sparsely populated to run express trains. all trains stopped at all stations. It took the World's Fair ti initiate, about 20 years after the line opened!, express operations. After the fair, the service continued, adjusted for the increasing traffic as Queens filled up with new residents. A new fleet of steel cars, the Steinway or World's fair cars, was put into service. After the fair these cars were assigned to other IRT lines, finally retiring from service on the Bronx segment of the 3rd av 'L' in the 1970s. The BMT had no direct service. Its runs from Manhattan via the 60th St line ended at Queensboro Plaza. Riders transferred to an other BMT train to reach the fair. This arrangement was forced by the different clearances between IRT and BMT size of coaches. The BMT cars confined to Queens were built to IRT dimensions.
Trylon and perisphere ------------------ There was at first no theme or centerpiece structure. Early advertising used the Statue of Liberty as an emblem. When the Perisphere and Trylon were added, at the last minute, it immediately captured the public attention. Some critics called it the golfball-&- tack. There was nothing inside the sphere, unlike, say, the Hayden Sphere in the Rose Center on Manhattan. Altho constructed of steel framing, the globe and spike were clad in sheetrock. The panels suffered badly in the winter of 1939-1940 and were replaced in time for the second year of the fair.
Attendance -------- Attendance was gigantic, yet not enough to recoup the costs of running the fair. It posted a shortfall of some tens of millions of dollars, an immense sum in the 1930s. It is not clearly known how the guests did, since they kept their own accounts. As long as they made assorted payments to the world's fair company, they were left alone. It seems from extant records that attendance was almost entirely from the City and nearby districts. There seems to be little advertising for the fair outside the City region, to attract remote visitors. With the Depression still in force, probably few people traveled to New York from a remote town to see the fair. On the other hand, there were few hard statistics, like tour group bookings, to be sure.
Shift of theme ------------ The two years of the fair were radicly different. In 1939 the theme was 'the world of tomorrow' with peeks at robots, television, car culture, and nylon fabric. The fair ran for about 340 days, in spring and summer of each year. Since then new rules for an official world's fair confined the show to a single year and a maximum number of days. World War II started in fall of 1939, casting a black cloud over the 1940 run. Many countries, caught up in the war, did not return. Their pavilions were dark and shuttered. The world-of-tomorrow came in an unexpected, not pleasant, way. The second year's theme was more like 'world peace'. The British pavilion found a ticking suitcase and called the City police about it. Detectives came and hand-carried the suitcase to the street. They wore no special protection and had no special skills about handling bombs. They tried to open it on the walkway outside the pavilion. The bomb denoated, killing the detectives. Out of this incident, never solved, the NYPD formed the Bomb Squad. It was a dedicated corps of police with heavy vests and hoods, hardened truck, tools, and all that. Decades later, time and time again, the Bomb squad would be called to retrieve and defuse hundreds of bombs placed around the City by a this or that badnik.
The future -------- Many of the inventions and gadgets shown in 1939 were promised to be in public hands within a year or two. Most had to wait until after the war, five and six years later. Some didn't catch on until the 1950s, more than ten years after the fair! One invention was television, developed by RCA under Sarnoff. He touted its glories and vowed that by 1941 every one will have a television in his home. My father went to the fair, saw the gadget, and was freaked out. Then he was inducted in the army for the war. In the four years of military service, he forgot about television. After the war he enrolled in the RCA Institute for radio technology on manhattan. He was in the first graduating class in 1947. Near the end of the class, Sarnoff called all the students to an auditorium and congratulated them. After his spiel, he pulled back the curtain and showed off a wood cabinet with a small picture frame on the front. he twiddled knobs and, lo!, a moving talking picture appeared! A new film projector? No, television. No one in the audience heard of 'television' and now were totally amazed. Sarnoff noted that among their new assignments they would repair these units, which will be in everyone's house in a year of two. My father got our first television in 1948 and hosted 'television parties' for the neighbors who did not yet have a unit.
The grand park ------------ Because the fair closed during the war, there was no means to reform the land into the grand park. Construction material and machines were sequestered for the war effort. Demolition cleared the pavilions but left the land empty and devoid of attraction. On roadmaps of the City into the 1950s the area was labeled 'unimproved' or 'undeveloped'. Three major structures were left after the fair. The aquacade theater at the south end of the fair, a 9,000 seat arena facing an artificial lagoon, ran shows after the fair, for the 1964-65 fair, and for years after. It was demolished in the 1990s due to irreparable decay. The Parachute Jump was moved to Steeplechase Park in Coney Island. It ran until 1964 or so, when Steeplechase closed. Then after, it fell into serious disrepair and was slated for demolition from time to time. The Jump is now a municipal landmark, clearing it for a full restoration in the 2000s. While it is operable with some further fixup, no one so far came forward to run it. The New York City pavilion was preserved for various uses and was refurbished for the 1964-65 fair. For the second fair a 1/1,000 scale model of the City was built inside. It has replicas of every edifice and structure, all 200,000 of them!, plus topography and scenery. There was a simulated helicopter ride with narration about the model. The ride is no longer operating today but you can overlook the model from a balcony around it. The Queens Museum now occupies the hall. Since the streets within the fair were corridors for utilities and services, many of these were kept in place and reactivated for the second fair. The name of the area avoided the word 'Corona' because of its connotation as a marsh and dump grounds. The usual name was Flushing Creek Park or similar. Only after the 1964-65 fair was 'Corona' added to the park's name.
1964-1965 ------- A new business partnership thought of having a new world's fair for the 25th anniversary of the last one. Robert moses became chair of the new fair company! In the 1960s he was on the wane in power but still an influential figure in city and state politics. To ease him out, the city and state offered him $100.000 per year to run the fair, provided he relinquished his other chairs. He accepted. other political offices, like the city mayor, had salaries in the myriads of dollars, making Moses about the highest paid official in New York state.
Construction ---------- Construction followed more or less the pattern of roads and sites of the 1939-1940 fair in Flushing Meadow Park. The main gate was at the north end, but there were several others around the perimeter of the fairground. The allocation of districts within the grounds was more or less that of the previous fair, with the evening entertainment centered at the south end around the aquacade theater. Despite good-faith efforts to have everything in place on opening day, several pavilions had punchlist work left to do. They opened anyway with construction crews going to work after hours. In spite of adverse publicity for these pavilions and the fair's management, once the halls were finished, every one let the show go on. Only a few kilometers of all new highway were built for the fair. Most of the additions were improvements to interchanges among existing highways and laying out new parking lots. The Kew Gardens interchange in perhaps the best known automotive relic of the fair.
Unisphere ------- The theme building was the Unisphere, then and still today the biggest model of Earth ever made. It was made of stainless steel, so it still looks good today. Lamps to show national capitals burned out soon after the fair and were never repaired.. The United States on the Unisphere had TWO capitals. One was Washington. The other, near the Quebec-New York border, was the capital of the Mohawk nation. It was placed there by the workers, who were then almost all from Mohawk tribes. Stainless steel was in wide use for decorative and light-load elements in construction. It wasn't used to any great extent for heavy-load structural members, like columns and beams of a skyscraper. The Unisphere is among the first, if not the first, in the US to use stainless steel for a major heavy-load structure. The Unisphere remains today the largest model of the Earth ever made, some 35 meter diameter. Being of stainless steel, it is well preserved as the signature edifice of Queens.
Transit access ------------ The BMT and IRT in about 1950 segregated their operations so only the IRT worked the Flushing line. All BMT riders had to transfer to the IRT at Queensboro Plaza station. They could also transfer to the flushing line at Times Square. IND riders could trasnfer to the Flushing line at Jackson Heights station. The transfers were now free, being that the three systems were then under City operation. A fleet of new subway cars, the R36 model, was dedicated to the line. Many of the cars were named for states with the name and emblem on their sides. They were not, as some histories state, air-condition when new. These, and other subway models, were retrofitted for AC in the 1970s and 1980s. Only brand new IRT cars from the 1990s onward were had AC as delivered. A few of these cars are in the Transit Museum collection. Some others were made into work cars. Most were sent to Davy Jones's locker as artificial reefs in the 2000s. The IND did not restore its 1939-1940 spur. Visitors had to take buses from Forest Hills or Kew Gardens stations. It also ran the same subway cars, the R1/9 models, left over from the old fair! These cars were in service long after the fair, finally being retired in the mid 1970s. The Transit Museum has a set of these, which it hires out for excursions.
The rogue fair ------------ The 1964-65 fair was not an official 'World's Fair'! There were many regulations that define such a fair, most of which Moses cared little for. He went and made up his fair over the objections of the fair authorities. Most of the big countries abstained but a lot of third-world nations were glad to come. Many states and american corporations had their pavilions, too. Information about the fair was distributed in flyers, booklets, advertising, and television shows. Some sitcoms had fair settings. A special phone line was set up, staffed by hordes of clerks muscling books and maps for the fair. The number was 'WF4-1964'. This was the first new telephone exchange in New York since before World War II and the first to deviate from the prevailing code rules for exchanges.
Civil activism ------------ The theme was 'peace through understanding', one that was challenged when the fair opened in april 1963. It is a queer fact that blacks were passed over for jobs at the fair! Not from deliberate segregation but inertia from former times. It just didn't come to the fair organizers to address blacks in hiring. Mass protests with passive resistance marred the first several weeks of the fair. They picketed various halls, handed out protest litterature, chanted. They fell limp in the paths, forcing police to haul them off the grounds. Besides pickets and marches in the fair, protesters staged breakdowns of cars on the entry roads. They stopped their cars in mid traffic, raised the bonnet, and made like they were stuck. The traffic backup behind them often lasted hours with potential visitors turning tail to go home. My family was caught in this tieup on an early day of the fair. My father drove the family from Brooklyn to within a kilometer of the parking lot. There the traffic came to a dead halt with no movement for some two hours. when traffic got moving, police were shooing cars AWAY from the fair because there were more jams farther ahead. There after, we went to the fair by subway.
Women's movement -------------- Marzlock's pictures showed an other aspect of bygone life. All the women wore dresses or skirts! Maybe one or two dared be in public with slacks. Many women wore flowery hats, in the summer heat! Some of the women in the audience recalled that in the 1960s as young schoolgirls they were punished for wearing slacks! In my own case in school at that time, the dean of students made a rule that female students can not wear pants on campus. They didn't. They wore pantaloons, Poolakas, pedal-pushers, coulottes, and other garments. Dean tried a reworded rule: No bifurcated garments. The ladies complied with that, too. They went braless. Also in the pictures, families are almost always father, mother, and kids, with father in charge. There were no single-parent families. Almost only men went after the gadget exhibits, like IBM, AT&T, GM. Women back then didn't do much beyond taking care of the house. They clustered at the shows for housekeeping and fashion.
Business ------ Like the first fair, the 1964-65 run lost money. Attendance was huge, tens of millions of people, but the fair costs were a bit too high to recover from the admissions and guest fees. While ten million dollars was not so severe a sum as that in 1939-40, it could cover the entire cost of building and running a major fair hall. The Unisphere, for one, cost all of two million dollars to build. While the admission fee was modest, $2, and most pavilions were free. there were many annoying expenses. One of the worst was the Brass Rail food tents. Prices for fast foods were about double the prices outside the fairgrounds. After being nicked by the food prices, my family took lunch sandwiches to the fair. The big-name attractions suffered from immensely long lines to get in. With the show inside being only twenty or so minutes long, a wait of half, one, two hour turned potential visitors to other less crowded attractions. The guests in some cases lost major amounts due to poor planning and management of their pavilions or bad luck. Oklahoma's pavilion consisted of just a flower garden of Oklahoma plants, and a souvenir shop. The fair drew some 51 million visitors, this time from all over the world. the City had a good tourist industry in place and steered visitors to the fair as one of the things to do while in town. As one accommodation, the fair's post office had drop boxes for many overseas countries, to make sending postcards and letters easier for foreign visitors. In spite of being an unofficial fair, the New York World's Fair attracted the second highest attendance of any world's fair in history, about 51 million. Only the official fair in Osaka, Japan, in 1970 pulled a higher attendance, 64 million.
Water crisis ---------- During the fair there was a severe water drought. The City imposed restrictions on lawn and garden watering. The City would not give exemptions for the fair. The Oklahoma garden withered! To save the show the state actually trucked water from Oklahoma and piped it into the garden's sprinkler system. The tank truck parked in the pavilion with a sign proclaiming that the water is pure Oklahoma, not City, water. The landscaping in general got ratty and spotty from the lack of watering. Coupled with the drought were rounds of heatstorms that made waiting on lines oppressive, to be kind. Some halls built sheds or canopies to shield the visitors. Other offered music and performers to ease the burden and boredom of waiting.
Flared emotions ------------- One hall posed a peculiar security problem. It consolidated many religions under one roof, they not having their own halls. Several lager religions had sumptuous halls, like the Vatican and the Anglicans and Billy Graham. Other,s even ample-sized religions opted to take stalls or booths in the union pavilion. Delegates at one religious group frequently got into ideological arguments with an other group. Words drifted to punches, kicks, vandalism of booths. Guards, wholly unfit for security functions, swang billy clubs at any one approaching too close.
The future -------- The were the usual futuristic inventions, like push-button phones (the Princess) and the picture-phone, audioanimatronics[!], several new plastics, color television, lasers, videotape, computers, habitats in Antarctica and under the oceans. Some of the predictions were so far off the mark they are hilarious or shocking now to look back on. We don't have and likely will never have towns in the deep sea. We certainly will not have laser-powered forest-clearing machines or robotic highway building vehicles. Others are already so far surpassed expectations that the prediction of the 1960s seem childish. Could there be imagined in the 1960s that a telephone can be carried in the pocket and call any place on Earth? Could there be conceived a whole computer on a small table at home? Or one that folds up like a valise to carry around? Could humans rise up to take better concern and care for wildlife and ecology? Would we ever see a revival of trolley cars? Would robots really roam around on Mars? Some in the audience felt that the 1939 fair was more futuristic then the 1964 fair. The items shown in the latter fair seemed more plausible and not so far off into the future. In deed, many were items already in use but not well known to the public, like lasers and computers. Others contended that the fair was a glorified bazaar for corporations to show off their current products; cars, insurance, refrigerators, beverages.
The grand park ------------ After the fair, the park was improved into Flushing Meadows park. However, the land deed was recorded in 'Corona'. Now with the old connotation gone, the park was renamed Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Because of its huge size, about 6 square kilometers, it seems vastly empty. With the dozens of fair halls demolished, the place sure was vacant. Many visitors played 'Remember', standing at places where a this or that pavilion once stood. Memory of the fair was so deep, that into the 1990s the park was commonly called the 'fairgrounds', like in road and weather reports.This social feature wa missed for the 1939-40 fair because of the heavy overburden of World War II. Too many people, once visitors, were diverted to the war effort.
Leftover structures ----------------- There were many structures intended to stay after the fair, but only a few survived today. The aquacade theater, a holdover from the 1939-40 fair, continued to host concerts and other music shows. It was torn down in the mid 1990s. The United States hall fell to ruin by neglect and vandalism. There was a political tussle about who had jurisdiction for it after the fair, which prevented timely repairs. It had to be pulled down in the mid 1970s The Singer Bowl is now the Armstrong Theater and hosts various sports and cultural events. The New York State hall deteriorated from disuse and neglect, there being nothing in it but a tower restaurant. It was under gradual dismantling as pieces break off or become hazardous. In 2008 its glass elevators were taken down for fear of falling loose. The hall probably can not be salvaged. The New York City hall is the same building put up for the 1939-40 fair! it is now the Queens Museum. It still has the fair's model of the City in it. This model is updated from time to time to reflect changes in the city skyline. In spring 2009 the old Shea Stadium model was pulled out and replaced with one for the new Citi Field. On the other hand, the late World Trade Center stays in place until the new one is completed. The Hall of Science was often missed during the fair. It was outside the fairground, not part of the admission fee. It lingered as a drab dreary collection of industrial vanity exhibits and a comical simulation of a spaceship docking at an orbiting station. It closed for massive rebuilding in the late 1970s. Today it is a major modern children's science museum. The Rocket Park, next to the Hall of Science, fell into ruin. In the early 2000s it was fully rebuilt, still with real rocket fuselages. However, no newer rockets, since the 1960s were added. The Port of Authority hall is empty or off limits except for its rooftop restaurant. It's now the Terrace in the park. The Unisphere, without its capital lamps, still is the rallying symbol of Queens. It is the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, Big Ben of Queens. Altho the globe is intact, the fountain around it fell into disuse and became a garbage pit. It is cleaned out from time to time. The Sky Tower was moved to Coney island, where is was a center attraction in the Astroland Park. It was a round column or pillar along which slided a doughnut elevator. Thru windows on the outer wall, visitors got a panorama view of Coney Island and the ocean. It ran until 2008, when Astroland closed. It will be removed in 2009 as part of clearing for a new amusement area. Many of the pavilions were dismantled to be relocated for use elsewhere, not demoished and scrapped. The 'Underground house' was merely entombed in place and covered with grass. Much of the fairgrounds's furniture and fixtures like lamppoles, were distributed thruout the country for further use. Many small structures, mostly art pieces, remain in Flushing Meadows Park. They are either in their original sites or moved to other sites in the park. Their condition ranges from well-maintained to decaying. The Time Capsules, from both fairs, are left in place, under stone markers, to be opened a millennium from now.
Collateral projects ----------------- During the 1964-65 World's Fair there were other large-scale projects around the City. Some in the audience thought they were part of the Fair in some way, but they were separate developments that merely coincided in time. Lincoln Center is the world's largest performing arts center west of Lincoln-Dante Square on Manhattan. It replaced a massive slum district with major theaters, new Metropolitan Opera House, several smaller halls, Julliard School of Music. It is undergoing a rehab and update, to complete in 2010. Shea Stadium, just north of the fairgrounds and reached by the same World's Fair station of IRT and LIRR, was built for the new expansion team, New York Mets. The team was formed partly to replace the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants, who a few years earlier moved to California. Over the years, former Giants fans took favorably to the new Mets but Dodger fans generally ignored them. The stadium was intended as both a baseball and football arena but was never fully finished as such. The new New York Jets played there until they moved to the Meadowlands. Shea Stadium is torn down for a replacement, smaller, ballpark next to it, named Citi Field. The New York International airport, Idelwild airport, was under a gut rebuild with allnew terminals assigned to major airlines. The circulatory roads were upgraded and new runways added. This project was never 'completed' because there is almost a permanent state of construction to tinker with the buildings and roads. Air Train, a linear-induction railroad, now works the terminals and connects with the LIRR at Jamaica and IND at Howard Beach. It opened in about 2003. The World Trade Center was talked up in the early 1960s as a modest low-lying ensemble of halls in the Radio Row section of Manhattan. The final design, with the twin Towers, came in about 1965 with construction starting in 1966. The complex took ten years to complete but as parts were finished, tenants were moved in. The last hall, #7 World Trade Center, was completed in the mid 1980s. The entire campus was thrown down within 90 minutes by deliberate collision of two airliners into the Twin Towers. the site is now under rebuilding, with 7WTC already in operation. Astroland Park opened in Coney Island in 1962 to complement the adjacent Steeplechase Park. Steeplechase was the last of America's three charter theme parks, opening in 1902. The other two, Dreamland and Luna Park, also in Coney Island, were destroyed by conflagration and never rebuilt. Astroland obtained the Sky Tower from the 1964-65 fair and set it up as a funky attraction on its grounds. The park closed in 2008 and was almost completely leveled by early 2009 for a new park under an other management. Penn Station on Manhattan was in miserable condition due to falling fortunes of owner Pennsylvania Railroad. recall that the 1960s was a period of intense deprecation of trains in American society. The railroad replaced the old depot with an underground structure, topped by a corporate tower and Madison Square Garden. The new facility was designed for short distance commuting with only a few long-distance trains. Penn Station s now under design for a second replacement built into the Farley post office across 8th Av. Verrazano Bridge, maybe with other numbers of 'r' and 'z', was planned for many years but always deferred. One concern was the hazard in wartime when it could be bombed to block entry into new York harbor. It connects Brooklyn and Staten Island across the Narrows, th narrowest neck of the harbor. The bridge caused a mass migration of people from Brooklyn and Queens into Staten Island with assorted growing pains. Chase Manhattan Plaza on Manhattan is the headquarters of the bank. It was built next to the Federal Reserve Bank and connected with it thru tunnels. the bank is the finance front for the US in foreign money transactions, so it was simpler with the tunnels to push money back and forth between the two. The address, One Chase manhattan Plaza, is the first vanity plaza in New York. Previously buildings used the postal address for the street they stood on. Federal Plaza was in design during the fair and partly completed in 1968. Only the east half of the full structure was opened with the west half occupied by a temporary parking lot. The intent was to consolidate all federal offices into one structure, but there ended up being far too many people to fit into it. Never the less, it is the largest federal office outside the Washington DC area. The wet half was built in the 1980s. These were operated by other private and public agencies with out coordination with the fair. Never the less, they benefited from the attention the City earned thru the fair.
Recycled exhibits --------------- After the fair some of the exhibits were models to make new ones elsewhere in the City. The Con Edison 'egg' was redone in a smaller scale to sit inside the Hall of Science to promote nuclear energy at Indian Point. The Burlington House on Manhattan built a simulation fabric mill in its exhibit hall, based on techniques used at the fair. The sky tower moved to Astroland Park in Coney Island, where it operated until 2008. It will be torn down to make way for a new amusement park in 2009. Audioanimatronics is widely used today for mechanical, as opposed to computerized video, models, like for store windows. It used used in a political exhibit of waterboarding in Coney Island in 2007, fueling protests against the practice at Gitmo. The Unisphere was replicated in a smaller size for the Trump Hotel on Columbus Circle. Unlike the stabile Unisphere, the Trump globe rotated. When its motorized base died, it became fixed in orientation. The three orbits around it are schematic, not matching those on the Unisphere.
Casualty ------ The projects described above benefited handsomely from the roof of attention from the fair. There was one major project that, incredibly, was killed off by the fair! Freedomland, the world's largest theme park ever, opened in Baychester, the Bronx, in 1960. It was an East Coast version of Disneyland modeled after American history. Its sections were deployed over a 800,000m2 campus in the outline of the United States. The sections were named for towns or regions of the country and had rides and attractions alluding to them. The park had its own troubles, such as construction fires, onsite crime, erratic management, lousy public transit access. It was also in a part of the City at the time of a really icky character. The knockout punch came in 1964 with the opening of the World's Fair in Queens. Patronage at Freedomland slided down as potential visitors flocked to the fair in the stead. The fair was really more fun, friendly, cheaper, easier to get to. The park went into bankruptcy. It closed in fall of 1964, before the end of the World's Fair season. The land was leveled in 1965. On its site is now the Co-Op City housing estate.
Conclusion -------- The 'audience' didn't just listen, it spoke up! At almost every slide one or an other person chimed in with a comment or factoid. i admit to tossing several of my own. Mr Marzlock was amazed at how many in the room went to BOTH fairs and remembered so much from each. Each comment sparked rounds of banter. Result: A one-hour talk in the quiet prolonged into almost THREE HOURS! The custodian crew were starting to clean up and put equipment away as we were leaving the room! The fairs were a defining feature in our lifes, a two-year window to the exterior world, a peek into other cultures and nations, a bit of fantasy, a bit of funkiness. After the talk everyone chatted up a storm about the fairs, young and old together. The younger flock never experienced a world's fair, altho they recall being taken there as toddlers or in carriages. . The ones held since 1965 in other countries somehow never captured the spirit and spark of the New York fairs. In fact some historians treat the New York fairs as if they were the ONLY world's fairs on Earth! It was in the years and decades following the fair, when the pneuma of the experience filtered thruout the body and soul of the visitor, that lessons come out. The 1964-65 fair featured the civil rights movement, women's liberation, Viet Nam, Cold War, Space Race, Kennedy and King assassinations, disabilities neglect, Great Society, conspicuous consumption, ecological disregard, Many of these we came around to address in a more sensitive and positive way. Others, in addiurnate form, today still dog us.