John Pazmino
 NYSkies Astronomy Inc
 2009 April 13
    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. 
    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 
    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 
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 
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 
    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-&-
    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 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 
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 
    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. 
    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 
    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. 
    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 
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 
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. 
    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 
    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 
    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 
    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, 
    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 
    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 
    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 
    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 
    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 
    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 
    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. 
    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 
    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.