Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New York World's Fair - Miscellaneous

Here's a batch of oddball images from the 1964 New York World's Fair!


Let's start with this fearsome, axe-wielding "muffler man". Yes, I am accustomed to seeing these giant figures holding giant mufflers. But this one has been modified to be more "Bunyanesque". I'm looking for clues to figure out why he's there. The souvenir shack looks like it was once used to sell fireworks by the road. The golden bear sculpture? Who knows. Alaska? Sugar Crisp cereal?


In the foreground stands another giant, this time a viking. He's guarding the Smorgasbord dining area against barbarians who might want a free meal of meatballs. Behind him is the New York State Pavilion, and to the right is the pointy Astral Fountain. I learned from a previous post that the spiky cylinder rotated. Hopefully it rotated really fast, and chewed up some pesky pigeons!


Here is one of the most exciting, dynamic displays I've ever seen. The oddly-named "Picatinny Arsenal" (?!). Was this where you could rent a machine gun? I have NO idea what the point of this area was. Maybe you could take a nap. Clearly, guests stayed away in droves. What do those many white supports hold up? Meanwhile, the Sikorsky helicopter can be seen up in the air.


Here's a strange display of Geodes and bits of coral. And pennies, lots and lots of pennies! Geodes are nodules of limestone, usually filled with layers of chalcedony, and within those layers, quartz or amethyst crystals. I knew a kid who called them "gonads". It wasn't me, I swear. Why the pieces of coral? What pavilion would display something like this? Where do babies come from?


13 comments:

TokyoMagic! said...

I do remember those large guys at the Midas Muffler shops, but there was also one holding a golf club off of the 405 fwy (near the 110 fwy interchange). It was the site of a miniature golf course and I believe either a regular golf course or a driving range. The Goodyear Blimp's home was (and still is) across on the other side of the freeway and there was also a Disneyland billboard in the same area for many years. We used to drive past all three landmarks on the way to my grandparent's house. See what memories that one slide dug up for me? Thanks, Major!

bloefeld said...

@TokyoMagic: I believe the giant golfer is still there, at least he was the last time I drove down that stretch of the 405. @ the Major: Where do babies come from? I nearly spit out the sip of water I had just taken.

Rich T. said...

I'm going to start a middle-aged garage band and call it "Picatinny Arsenal!"

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, looking at a 1965 National Geographic map of the fair, it looks like the Picatinny Arsenal was part of the New Jersey Pavilion. It's not labeled "Picatinny Arsenal", but the New Jersey Pavilion has that same roof design and there is one of those "bubble" restaruants located between it and the New York State Pavilion, both of which can be seen in your photo.

Hannahx2 said...

Oooh my mother would adore that fountain...she's got a million geodes and no where to put them haha. I think it's quite stylish though, gonads and all!!
We've got Paul Bunyan with an axe in my town that I drive by every day! So nice of him to stand guard over that intersection decade after decade...

Katella Gate said...

Paul Bunyan and the Viking must have enormous personalities. I'll bet they're very popular.

Major Pepperidge said...

TM!, I wonder if I used to see the same giant golfer when I lived in Huntington Beach. I have a vague memory of seeing one of these figures on a regular basis when I was a kid, but wasn't sure where exactly that would have been. Anyway, I'm glad this humble photo brought back good memories!

bloefeld, I hope you did not ruin your computer monitor or keyboard.

Rich T. I like the "Arsenal" part for a band name because it is badass, but I'm not too sure about the "Picatinny".

TM! part two, I didn't know there was a National Geographic article about the fair, I'll have to find that one. I'm hoping that some knowledgeable Fair expert (they are out there!) can chime in with more info about the Picatinny Arsenal.

Hannahx2, I like geodes, and I like fountains, but it seems like a prettier fountain could be built than the one in that photo! Maybe the picture doesn't do it justice? I'd make something taller so that the water could really cascade over the geodes! Anyway, wave "hello" to Paul Bunyan for me.

Major Pepperidge said...

Katella.... wah-wahhhhhhhh (sad trombone)!

JG said...

I remember several of these large figures from various places in youth, but can't remember where any of them were / are?

One was a Paul Bunyan for sure, and outside a restaurant where we went more than once...

Others were mufflers or tire sales etc.

Very nice, Major, thanks.

JG

Vaughn said...

Picatinny Arsenal is an army base in New Jersey. Judging by the uniformed folks in the picture, I would guess it is a recruiting exhibit as part of the New Jersey pavilion.

Nancy said...

awesome pics and great info...i love when we get the inside scoop!

those tall Paul Bunyans always remind me of Brawny paper towel ads, and the viking is very cool too.

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, one of these giant guys is just a few miles away from me here in the San Fernando Valley! I only first noticed him a few months ago while taking an alternate route home.

Vaughn, THANKS for that info! I had noticed the uniformed men. No wonder that nobody else is there!!

Nancy.... thank you!

Chuck said...

Okay, I'm way late to comment - which means that nobody will ever read this but me - but here goes...

The Picatinny Arsenal photo appears to show what were probably just a slight step up from standard trade fair-type exhibits on the Picatinny Arsenal (by "a slight step up" I mean that they were probably weatherproofed). I've been to more defense-related trade shows than I can count, and many DoD (as well as Canadian DND, UK MoD, German BMVg, etc.) research and development-type organizations set up displays like this that highlight their contributions to technology development and equipment design and fielding alongside displays from defense-related companies showing how the firms contribute to the same end.

These exhibits are staffed by members of the organization being highlighted and stand ready to answer questions from fairgoers, which explains the two knots of GIs in Class A greens. This sort of exhibit would not be focused on recruiting at all; formal recruiting is done by designated, trained personnel who are assigned to recruiting units. I'm sure there was a recruiting-oriented exhibit elsewhere on the Fairgrounds (note to self: need to look that up), but it would not have been buried in a back corner of the New Jersey State Pavilion.

The more likely scenario had Picatinny Arsenal either asking to provide an exhibit or possibly being asked by the State of New Jersey to provide an exhibit to show off New Jersey's contributions to national defense or technology development. It's even possible that there was extra space that NJ needed to fill and somebody thought "hey - don't the guys at Picatinny have a portable display we could get for free?"