Saturday, April 25, 2015

New York World's Fair Panoramas

Visitors at the 1964 New York World's Fair especially loved to take pictures from the observation tower at the New York State pavilion. At 226 feet high, it provided impressive panoramas of the spectacle below. This means that pictures from this vantage point, while cool, are pretty common. Which is why I am putting a bunch of them in one post. 

The New York State pavilion was located on the southern edge of the Fair; in this first shot, we are looking down, and slightly to the north. The Unisphere is just out of frame to our left (at the end of that grassy boulevard); among the pavilions we can see is the spiky-roofed African pavilion; and the pavilions of Sudan, Malaysia, Greece, Pakistan, and Morocco, among others.

Turning slightly to the east, we can see such sights as the shallow dome of General Electric's "Progressland", the red "umbrella" of the Traveller's Insurance building, the giant "egg" of IBM's pavilion, the conical roof of Guinea's pavilion and the wavy roof of "Sermons From Science".

Just for the hell of it, I decided to "photomerge" the previous two photos in Photoshop. The varying perspectives made for some wonkiness, but it still stitched together surprisingly well.

Continuing to turn toward the south east, we can see "Meadow Lake" and some of the Amusement Zone. To the right there is the tower (with the ball on top) for Florida's pavilion. Continuing to our left.... I've always loved the "swayback"roof of the AMF Monorail station. Next to it is the tent of the Continental Circus, and behind it is the massive Amphitheater. To the extreme left you can see "Meadow Lake Bridge" crossing the Long Island Expressway.

Pivoting back to our left a bit, we get a better look at Meadow Lake Bridge. In the lower right is the large "Bourbon Street" area, where you could hear jazz music and eat Louisiana cuisine. At the bottom of the photo is part of the multicolored roof of the New York State pavilion (see how it looks from the ground HERE). To our left we can see some of the buildings from the Belgian Village, and above that is more of the Amusement Zone, including the Aerial Tower Ride.

All of those blue tent-like roofs are part of the New Jersey pavilion. In the upper left, just a sliver of the New York City pavilion can be seen... a remnant from the 1939/40 Fair! The Amphitheater visible in the previous photo is also left over from that great Fair.

You can't have a bunch of photos of the '64 Fair without showing the Unisphere! I've seen a lot of spheres in my day, but none quite as uni as this one. The large square-ish building to its left is the United States pavilion, and just above that, Shea Stadium.

I hope you have enjoyed this panoramic tour of the 1964 New York World's Fair!


Unknown said...

Wowie-zowie! That's some nice World's Fair going on there.

I remember wanting to go see this so bad. But 3000 miles was a little far for my family in those days. I think maybe National Geographic had coverage in some issue. Or maybe it was Life magazine. I sure remember the Unisphere that's for sure!

TokyoMagic! said...

@ Patrick Devlin, National Geographic, Life Magazine and Time Magazine all covered this fair!

It's interesting that the United States Pavilion, the Amphitheater in the Amusement Zone, and Shea Stadium were all standing for decades after the Fair was over, and were only bulldozed in recent years. I hope the New York State Pavilion doesn't meet that same fate!

Nanook said...


I DID enjoy my panoramic tour of the Fair.


K. Martinez said...

Nice! I definitely remember the Nat. Geo. article as a kid. Today's post whets my appetite for Brad Bird's Tomorrowland.

Major Pepperidge said...

Patrick Devlin, the LIFE magazine article about the Fair is (in my opinion) is nice, but I had hoped for more when I first saw it. Incidentally, thanks to Google Books, you can read every issue of LIFE, including that May 1, 1964 World’s Fair issue!

TokyoMagic!, I didn’t know that the United States pavilion stood until recently. Presumably that huge building just sat vacant for over 40 years. Terrible! I know that enthusiastic volunteers have been working on the New York State pavilion, but it would really require millions of dollars to bring it back to its former glory - and they STILL wouldn’t know what to do with it.

Nanook, I hope you took one of the complimentary pinback buttons on your way out!

K. Martinez, I have watched the trailers for “Tomorrowland”, and want to love it, but so far I am not sure what to make of it. However, it’s Brad Bird, and he is pretty dependable.

dennis said...

thanks for taking me back to the fair!

Dean Finder said...

I would have loved to go, but I was negative 11 when the fair closed...

The United States Pavilion was intended for reuse, but none was ever found. (I'm surprised that the NY Public Library or a museum didn't take it, considering that it was built with a library). The building was razed, but the foundation was reused to build Arthur Ashe Stadium:

The NY Pavilion has been protected from demolition, but you're right that it's going to take a lot to restore it:

Looking at the pictures of the Amusement Area, I'm surprised that the Swiss Sky Ride didn't end there. It would make a lot more sense than ending at another country's pavilion.

TokyoMagic! said...

@ Dean, thanks for the link. I didn't realize that the U.S. Pavilion was torn down in 1977. I guess because the Arthur Ashe Stadium wasn't built on that site until the nineties, I assumed that it remained standing longer than it did.

Major Pepperidge said...

Dennis (from Levittown!), you’re welcome!

Dean Finder, interesting that Arthur Ashe Stadium is now where the U.S. pavilion once stood, if I ever knew that, I’d forgotten it. Who knows what politics went into deciding what went where, including the Swiss Sky Ride. Maybe it would have been too expensive to have it go as far as the Amusement Zone.

TokyoMagic!, even so, I didn’t know that it had lingered as long as it did… I assumed it had been torn down back in the 1960’s.

Dean Finder said...

Now that I think about it, I'd guess that the insurance underwriters would refuse to cover an attraction that carried passengers over the LIE with an opportunity to jump out, even back in the 1960s.

Bill Cotter said...

Great pictures of a great event. Thanks for sharing them.

Bill Cotter said...

Here's the US Pavilion coming down in 1977. What a loss.