Saturday, August 04, 2018

Construction At The 1964 New York World's Fair

*I'm still out of town, so I might not be able to respond to comments for a while.

It's time for a few more construction photos from the 1964 New York World's Fair!

We'll start with this one (dated "April 1964" - the Fair opened on April 22nd, so there must have been a mad rush to finish everything in time for the hordes of people. We're looking at the Bell System pavilion - or at least some old cars and a cool old trailer. The grounds are a mess, it's hard to believe that this would be ready to go so soon.

Here's a shot of the Bell System building from the 1965 season!

Next is this undated photo of the Wisconsin pavilion. The Unisphere appears to be complete in the distance, but ol' Wisconsin is quite a mess at the moment. And all for a display of heaps of cheese curds.

The only shot of the Wisconsin pavilion that I have is this one, taken from the New York State observation tower. Count the luminaires!

Next is this rather stark detail of the RCA building; if you arrived at the Fair by train, this is one of the first features you would walk past. The mysterious blue blob in the upper right is from a ballpoint pen.

Here's a shot from the 1965 season, with long lines of guests anxious to see a glimpse of color television. Each visitor received a free 150 pound TV to take home with them.

Just for fun, here's a short piece of video from the RCA pavilion as genuine vintage people (on a moving sidewalk) see themselves on a color monitor. Fascinating!


TokyoMagic! said...

I love construction pics! At first, I thought the lady in the green dress (in the video) was simply too cool....until I saw her take a puff on her cigarette. Major, are you sure that blue blob didn't hatch out of an asteroid that landed in the woods, just beyond the Flushing city limits?

Nanook said...


Geez - a 1962 Chevrolet Bel Air, in lovely 'Surf Green'. It doesn't quite have that futuristic look of the Fair, but it'll do.

After watching all those folks seeing themselves on CoLoR TV, I suddenly have a hankering for a cigarette. [I can't understand why...] I think my favorite was the lady in pink, carrying a bouquet of flowers, who suddenly felt compelled to re-align the tip of her nose. I know for me, that's always the first part of my body I attend to when checking myself out in a mirror (or RCA CoLoR TV set-!)

Thanks, Major, for more views of that great Fair.

Melissa said...

If heaps of cheese curds are wrong, I don't want to be right!

that second picture is kind of creepy, with all those identically-dressed men and their similarly-dressed wives.

It always seems like the initial stages of construction take forever, but the final ones happen practically overnight.

JC Shannon said...

Interesting story about the Bell Telephone Exhibit. It was one of the things I remember most, they had all push button touch tone phones. We had never seen one, and at least a few of the pay phones were touch tone as well. I remember my father using one. Also in the Bell Exhibit was the new Visiphone. You could go to the booth and talk to and see people guessed it, Disneyland. The guide assured us that these would be in every home by 1975! Wow. I don't however, know where the feed in Disneyland was. Does anyone in GDBland know? Thanks to globetrotting Major for the great scans.

The Magic Ears Dudebro said...

Those parked cars at the World's Fair pavilion reminded me that the only attraction that Disney built at the fair that wasn't replicated at Disney World was the Ford Magic Skyway. Though I can sort of understand why: there really wasn't a place in Disneyland for such an attraction. Though I hear it did help inspire World of Motion in Epcot.

dennis said...

One day my father loaded my brothers and I into the car and we drove over to the Fairgrounds to see the fair and Shea Stadium under construction. We attended the Fair a few times, and my dad also took us back in 1966 to see the fair being torn down. It was nicer to see it under construction.

Nanook said...

@ JC Shannon-

I remember the Picturephones at Disneyland, but not specifically where they were located. Obviously, they were located near the exit from the America the Beautiful attraction, as it was sponsored by The Bell System. So maybe the area was encroaching on The Art of Animation-? Who knows; but someone does. Picture-proof verification does seem hard to come by.

Interesting, you refer to the devices as “Visiphones”, as that was the ‘working name’ for the devices. I’m fairly-certain by 1964, the Picturephone name had been well-established, and I believe all the Fair literature referenced it in that fashion. But what a memory spark you provided by recalling that name-! Thanks.

JC Shannon said...

Nanook, I remember it as Visiphone, but that was when I was 10 and dazzled by anything futuristic. I do remember it was oval shaped and had a microphone. My brother David thought it was so cool, he said when we grew up we could call each other and still see one another even far away.

TokyoMagic! said...

JC Shannon and Nanook, your comments just reminded me of this poster that someone gave my family in 1976. I was fascinated with all of it, but especially the Picturephone. I remember wondering why nobody had them in their homes yet, when they were shown as being a new item seven whole years earlier. Bell Telephone Centennial Poster

TokyoMagic! said...

Then there is this.....everything you want to know about the Picturephone and MORE: Bell Laboratories Record May/June 1969

Nanook said...

@ TM!-

Yes, "everything you want to know..." and then some. In the Centennial Poster, it oddly displays an early 2500 set with 12 buttons. The asterisk and octothorpe buttons (yes, I know - no one refers to it as such) weren't added until 1968 or 1969.


dennis said...

No "heaps of cheese curds", but the Wisconsin pavilion was home to "The Worlds Largest Cheese". After the fair, "The Worlds Largest Cheese" was driven around the country in a specially designed refrigerated 18 wheeler !

Dean Finder said...

The payphones throughout the fair were Touch Tone. You can see one of the "serpentine" phone booth banks in the Wisconsin photo from the NY pavilion. It's in the lower center of the picture in line with the rows of benches along the avenue.