Tuesday, March 08, 2016

1964 New York World's Fair

I am very happy to report that I have found my box of New York World's Fair slides - they'd been misplaced during a recent move. Now I have another 200 (or so) images to share... a few of them are pretty neat!

MEANWHILE... today's scans are kind of odd, and not the greatest pictures of the Fair. But any chance to visit it is welcome.

See what I mean? This one is funky, taken from the "United Nations North" bridge as it crossed the Grand Central Parkway, looking South-ish. The very large building on our left is the New York Pavilion. NYC was celebrating its 300th anniversary that year, and one of the attractions was a skating rink, with a show created by Olympic skater Dick Button. You remember him! (?) 

If we could look to our right, we'd see the whole Transportation Zone, which included Ford's "Magic Skyway", General Motors "Futurama", The Chevrolet Pavilion, and much, much more. 

This next one was taken from the Futurama building (still looking across the Grand Central Parkway); we get an OK look at the New York State pavilion, with its two observation towers, and the massive "Tent of Tomorrow", which still stands today, essentially in ruins. The dome in the lower right is part of the Alaska pavilion, while the Missouri pavilion is the square building to our left.

One of the things inside the Missouri building was this exact replica of Charles Lindberg's "Spirit of St. Louis". You know, the plane that Lindberg flew through the center of the Earth! This particular example was used in Jimmy Stewart's 1955 movie called (wait for it) "The Spirit of St. Louis".

This slide was in a glass mount, which explains those chromatic Newton's Rings that you can see here and there.

And, just because it's related, here's a beautiful shot looking up at the colorful plastic panels that adorned the roof of the aforementioned "Tent of Tomorrow". Pretty spectacular!


Nanook said...


Ahhh - the World's Fair - for many of us, THIS is the only one. Although, the elevator cars ferrying visitors up to the Observation Towers bear a strong resemblance to those of the Space Needle...

'Glass slide mounts' - there's something I haven't thought about for some time. Those "chromatic Newton's Rings" you point out would play great havoc on the image - especially when being projected with a projector incorporating a Xenon light source. They were usually the source of moisture which would first go dark, and then very slowly begin to evaporate, eventually realizing the slide's true image. There IS something to be said for digital images.

And to this day, I still can't understand why one of the shopping channels hasn't offered a scaled-sown version of the Tent of Tomorrow, "... just perfect for your patio or sun deck....! "

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Newton's Rings. That's a new one to me. Gorillas Don't Blog is entertaining AND educational! Of course you could have just said that those were giant amoebae that attacked Charles Lindberg during his journey to the center of the earth and I would have believed you.

My dad had a ton of slides that were glass mounted. They all had dust particles in between the glass. I had to take the slides apart and clean each piece of glass and the film before scanning them. What a pain that was! No pun intended.

Chuck said...

That "Spirit of St Louis" replica, based on a Ryan B-1 Brougham built in 1928, hung for many years (and many childhood visits) in the concourse of Lambert-St Louis International Airport before being moved to its current home inside the Missouri Historical Museum in St Louis' Forest Park, just east of the site of the 1904 World's Fair.

Glass mounts can be a pain, but they were all we had at the turn of the '90s for mounting composite graphic slides that used text, photos, and colored films. They're also useful for precisely registering 35mm images for 3D projection and viewing, and they do protect the emulsion from any external damage. But they also have all of the disadvantages you guys describe as well, especially when moisture or dust get trapped between the image and the glass.

It's sad to think of the NY State Pavilion in ruins, but there have been recent efforts to raise funds and begin restoration, although they are a long way from the estimated $72M needed to complete the project. Still, some painting and preservation work has been accomplished, and it's a start: http://www.qchron.com/editions/queenswide/restoration-funds-continue-for-pavilion/article_093a3fd8-33e1-5868-8944-249a2b730b8f.html

K. Martinez said...

That "Tent of Tomorrow" roof is a beauty. All this just makes we wish Disneyland's Tomorrowland would go for a retro-1964 World's Fair look. Even Universal Orlando built a reduced size version of the two observation towers pictured in the first photo for the exterior of their Men In Black: Alien Attack attraction.


The observation towers were actually 3 deck towers. The lowest tower is just peaking above the building in the second image.


Always a joy to see NYWF'64. Thanks, Major.

Tom said...

So nice to hear you found the box of pics! I can't wait to see the whole set. Bring on the Luminaires!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, you are right, those elevators DO look very similar; while I assume that all elevators are Otis products, I wonder how similar they truly are. I am wondering when you would have had to project glass slides with a xenon light… the two technologies seem so disparate. Like playing an Edison cylinder with Dolby noise removal (probably a dumb analogy). And YES, I want a mini tent of tomorrow!

TokyoMagic!, when you are on the game show “Jeopardy!”, this factoid is going to be the one that wins you the big money. Alex Trebek will be so impressed. Glass slides are a pain… they’re heavy, fragile, and as you know, they get dirty even if their edges are sealed up. “What a PAIN”, hee hee!! You will host the Oscars next year, mark my words.

Chuck, you used glass mounted slides in the 90’s? That is surprising. 3D projection viewing - now that makes me want to somehow have 3D views for my stereo slides (you’d have to wear polarized glasses of course - a pair is taped to the back of every computer, just take a look). Tiny baby steps have been taken regarding the New York pavilion, mostly volunteer efforts as far as I know. Restoring the terrazzo map and the colorful ceiling panels will cost a bundle, and I’m sure much of the structure needs to be completely redone after 50 years of neglect. $72 milliion, hey, I will pay that!

K. Martinez, now that you mention it, maybe a 1960’s “retro future” WOULD be a cool way to go for Tomorrowland, as opposed to the dark and dour “steam punk” theme that they attempted (poorly). Thanks for pointing out the third tower, I did know that at one time, and then forgot about it…

Tom, now all I have to do is actually scan the darn things. And I still dream of building my own luminaire!

Chuck said...

Ken, thanks so much for the photo links! I've never been to Universal Orlando (or Flushing Meadows, for that matter), so anything from there is new to me. I wonder - do their observation towers fly like the original ones do? Or can't you remember after the flashy thing?

Major, I did use glass slide mounts, for a couple of months in 1991 for a college course. I still have the slides we made for that class. When I got to my first Combat Camera unit in '93, the graphics guys were telling me that they had just stopped using them a year or two before.

I also have three boxes of unused glass mounts in the filing tower on my desk, less than three feet from where I'm typing. I shot a small number of stereo slide pairs (none at Disneyland, however) with a regular 35mm camera in the late '90s, and I had dreams of projecting them stereographically. I slowly built up some of the required equipment base, but a move to England for a couple of years where everything was more expensive and then an expanding family that ate into hobby money (accursed eating machines!) kept me from reaching the final goal. Not sure I want to take the time and money now to track down and procure projector lenses, polarizing filters, and a rack to mount the projectors in.

I'm glad to hear you're going to front the $72M. I was afraid I might have to. Maybe now I CAN afford those polarizing lenses...

Nanook said...


Xenon-'lamped' slide projectors were used in venues in need of brightly-illuminated, large-size images. As you can imagine, and in spite of several "heat filters", the danger of image-fading was very real for a slide that lingered too long in the "gate". And for glass-mounted slides, the issue was compounded. Clearly when a brighter light source was called-for, this was a great solution, but it was not without its down sides.

dennis said...

Great stuff, Major! Glad to hear there is more to come!
Dennis - Levittown, Long Island

TokyoMagic! said...

I just realized that the second highest tower of the NY State Pavilion appears to be empty. I suppose most people would want to be on the highest level possible. I'll have to look back at your older posts to see how crowded the other tower is. I believe the shortest tower was a lounge for V.I.P.s and dignitaries. Come to think of it, didn't the two shorter towers share one elevator? Maybe that is why the middle tower doesn't have many people? Perhaps there was restricted use of that elevator depending on who was needing to use it?

Dean Finder said...

The middle platform was a snack bar. I'd guess people are closer to the center of that one, so it appears empty.