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Mom, Dad are we there yet? I wanna ride the doll ride mommy, you know the one at the Pepsi Building. NO DAD we rode that last time cause sis wanted to. I wanna see the Dinosaurs and ride in the Mustang. All right children, quiet down now We’ll be there anytime now and your father will decide what we do first… How many times was this scenario played out in 1964 through 1965 if you happened to be in New York?
On this episode of Echoes of Laughter both T. Mic and Bill Cotter will revisit the 1964 New York World’s Fair which was held in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, in the borough of Queens. They will discuss Bill’s personal experience of attending the fair as well as what was good and bad about how the fair came about, how it was operated, what made it a unique World’s Fair, it’s financial problems and what remains of the site today.
The site had also hosted the1939/1940 New York World’s Fair. It ran during April 22 through October 18, 1964 and April 21 through October 17, 1965. The admission price for adults (13 and older) was $2.00 in 1964 but $2.50 in 1965, and $1.00 for children (2–12) both years. The theme of the fair was “Peace Through Understanding,” and was dedicated to “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe”. The fair exhibits were unquestionably dominated by American Industry and third world countries that normally would not have a chance to participate in a World’s Fair. The reason for this was that the fair was unsanctioned by the BIE (Bureau International des Expositions) due to a variety of reasons including the fact that it was to be run for two 6 month seasons (The BIE only authorizes 1 – six month run). The fair site encompassed 1 square mile and was one of the largest fair sites ever hosted in the United States. Most of the corporate exhibits were geared towards space age technology. The theme was present in the architecture of many of the pavilions, such as the leaning wall of the GM pavilion, the IBM “Egg”, The Westinghouse and Ford Buildings were also futuristic in design.
Though the fair was plagued with financial woe’s it still is remembered fondly by most of the public that attended it. In the variety of foods (such as the famous Bel-Gem Waffles), the wonder of people first seeing tomorrows technology in action and the hope of a utopian future as it was presented in abundance. Ah, the dreams of the past.
And then there was the Disney influence… Walt Disney saw the fair as a great opportunity for his own company’s growth. Some of America’s top corporations benefited from Disney’s imagination and ingenuity in presenting their products to the public and Disney benefited in return by being able to use the financial backing from those very corporations to fund research and design for technologically advanced ride systems, shows, and (of course) Audio Animatronics… The rest shall we say is history.
The 1964 New York World’s Fair significance is still very present some 48 years later and though there are very few physical landmarks that still survive on the site in Flushing Meadows Corona Park the gleaming stainless steel Unisphere still shines as brightly today for those who see it today as it does in the memories of those who still hold the experience of attending the fair in their mind and in their hearts from so many years ago…