Monday, September 04, 2017

Random Photos, New York World's Fair

Here are a few nice photos featuring the 1964/65 New York World's Fair, taken by different photographers. 

This first one is my favorite, a lovely view of the Bell System building. The upper level was appropriately referred to as a "floating wing"  (clad in lightweight Fiberglas), and it housed a 15-minute ride that told the story of communication, "from tom-toms to Telstar". To the right was a 140 feet tall microwave tower "...equipped to handle incoming and outgoing television and data transmissions. Its base is glass-enclosed so fairgoers can see the control equipment and monitors presenting the programs being broadcast".

Just visible in the distance is the dome of the "Progressland" pavilion. Look at that beautiful sky!

I was sure that this next photo was taken before the Fair opened, as it was dated "April 1964", and shows the Switzerland building still under construction. But it turns out that the Fair debuted on April 22nd! So there must have been some hectic last-minute work to get everything ready for guests. 

The Switzerland pavilion had displays of clocks, watches, chocolates, and cheese. There was a "Time Center", with a Master Clock so accurate that it measured time down to a 100th of a second.

Nearby is a tower and some cables for the "Swiss Sky Ride", a Von Roll sky ride that eventually moved to Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, where I believe it still operates.

And finally, here's a nice photo of the wonderful Unisphere as seen against the blue sky of a June day. 


Nanook said...


Some nice images from the fair. "The over one million men and women of the Bell System..." A monopoly perhaps at its best.

Thankfully, the Unisphere is still doing its thing.

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

That last shot is postcard worthy. The first one would be too....if they made square postcards. I'll say that it's PanaVue slide worthy. And the Tower of the Four Winds is hiding out in the background of that second pic!

Scott Lane said...

Beautiful images! I had no idea that the skyway I rode as a kid had been part of the fair! I'd love to be able to tell whether or not it is still operating but I haven't been to Great Adventure in years.

K. Martinez said...

The Bell System building is pretty awesome. I wonder what it's supposed to symbolize? Bell System used to sponsor some cool science oriented programs including Walt Disney's "America the Beautiful". Nice New York World's Fair pics today. Thanks, Major.

Anyone remember the Bell Lab Science Series with Dr. Research (Dr, Frank C. Baxter/USC professor)? Those were some fun films shown in the classroom back in the early 1960's. "Our Mr. Sun" and "Hemo the Magnificent" were a couple that come to mind.. Loved those.

Melissa said...

I wonder what that ride inside the Bell Pavilion was like? Sounds like a prude assessor of spaceship earth, but I can't imagine it was quite that elaborate.

The Switzerland building reminds me of the Swiss Chalet restaurant we used to go to on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. It doesn't look like that anymore; the whole chain has more modern facades now. This was back when you did not need a passport or enhanced ID to cross the border. Good times.

(Love that sweet little red Volkswagen out front!)

Melissa said...

Yes, I remember Hemo the Magnificent! There was another one in the series with a weather goddess called Meteora.

Dean Finder said...

The Sky Ride still operates at Great Adventure, though there's very little of the NYWF ride left in it.
When they built the ride in NJ, they used the pylons from Freedomland's sky ride. In the 1980s, the NYWF cars were replaced by ones from Six Flags Great America. Hopefully, the cables have been replaced a few times in the last 40-odd years, so maybe the drive and tension systems are the last remnants of the NYWF.

Chuck said...

Major, wow - these are great! Love that AT&T building.

Ken, I loved Our Mr Sun and Hemo the Magnificent! They were staples of our junior high science classes in the early '80s. Weren't they both directed and/or produced by Frank Capra? And I seem to recall Eddie Albert in at least one of them. It's a Federal holiday, so I refuse to do any research myself today.

Melissa, I'm working my way through just what a "prude assessor" might be. :-) Kinda makes me think of some locker room discussions I overheard when I was in high school.

I remember seeing that Swiss Chalet in Niagara Falls. You can still cross the border without a passport or enhanced ID - you just need to be prepared to be arrested afterwards.

Chuck said...

Dean Finder, thanks for that link.

It's interesting to see how they have repurposed older NYWF gondolas into maintenance cars. This is similar to what railroads do with select equipment as it reaches the end of its service life, and you'll still see some older boxcars and passenger cars continuing to roll as maintenance of way cars.

Nanook said...

@ Chuck-

Frank Capra has credit for directing three of (I believe) the nine, Bell System Science Series: Our Mr. Sun; Hemo the Magnificent and The Strange Case of the Cosmic Rays. And yes, Eddie Albert was in Our Mr. Sun, (along with Lionel Barrymore, Frank Baxter - who starred in five of the films - and Marvin Miller - of The Millionaire TV show fame).

K. Martinez said...

Melissa, Yes, Meteora, the goddess of weather was in the Bell Lab film "The Unchanged Goddess" which was about of all things... weather! BTW, I noticed that cute little Volkswagon too!

Chuck, I'm surprised they still had those shown in schools in the early 1980's. They seemed old-fashioned by 1980's standards. One thing they were was entertaining.

Nanook, Thanks for the additional info. I actually have watched all the Bell Lab films again about a few years ago with the exception of the final installment in the series "The Restless Sea" which was actually produced by Walt Disney Productions with Walt Disney in it.

dennis said...

More World's Fair pictures, please!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, it does seem to me that back in those days, the Bell company had a monopoly, but provided top service for a reasonable price. Nowadays, the telecoms nickel and dime us to death while providing the minimum possible service.

TokyoMagic!, that square format also made me think of Pana-Vue slides. Thankfully this is NOT a Pana-Vue, so it has retained its nice color! I could be wrong, but I think I even see the tippy top of the Tower of the Four winds in the first photo as well (behind some trees).

Scott Lane, wow, maybe you actually rode in the original World’s Fair buckets!

K. Martinez, I’m not sure if the Bell System building’s shape symbolized anything (maybe the architect just thought the wing shape was cool), or maybe it symbolized “speed”. Or something. You can watch all of those wonderful old Bell Science films on YouTube - I didn’t remember that they are each roughly an hour long!

Melissa (hi Melissa!), if you go to, you can read all about it in glorious detail! is the best World’s Fair site I’ve ever seen. Who knows, maybe the restaurant you referred to is the same building… a number of structures were used again in various States.

Melissa again, I wonder if it was “Hemo the Magnificent” in which we are shown how mucus traps bad germs - it looked like an animated diagram for a football game. I still remember Eddie Albert cheering, “Go, mucus!”.

Dean Finder, I can’t say I’m surprised that the Sky Ride has undergone so many changes in 50 years. I’d be more worried if it had not!! Thank you for the awesome link! Funny, they use two of my photos of Freedomland.

Chuck, I like to think that I am a prude assessor. I can spot one a mile away. The job doesn’t pay much, but it’s rewarding. Do what you love and you will never “work”. My ID is enhanced with somebody else’s personal information.

Chuck, sometimes I’ll find photos of pieces of abandoned amusement park rides and vehicles, either they’ve found a second life as part of a restaurant (or whatever), or they are rusting away in a field.

Nanook, it always kind of amazes me that Frank Capra directed some of the most popular movies from pre-WWII, but, with the exception of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, could not seem to find continued success with features (and even IAWL was not a hit at the time, I understand).

K. Martinez, I don’t think I’ve seen the one with Meteora, but I might watch it on my iPad. Yes, by the 1980’s those films must have seemed terrible dated, and probably funny.

dennis, I was pretty sure you would say that!

Melissa said...

Thanks for the link, Major (Hi, Major!)

Sounds like the ride was Spaceship Earth done with the technology of If You Had Wings.

Melissa said...

The Prude Assessor is the mortal enemy of the Bikini Inspector.

Tom said...

How did I miss this one??!!! The Bell System pavilion, the microwave tower, those beautiful luminaires... this one has everything! My need for a time machine just increased tenfold.

Thank you for sharing these great pics!

Bill Cotter said...

Nice shots - as usual!

I loved the Bell System pavilion, and it got me interested enough that I did a spin working for AT&T Long Lines as a summer job. My friend's sister worked at the pavilion so we go to explore the inside many times.

More on the pavilion on my site at