Friday, September 10, 2010

New York World's Fair, July 1964

To the Fair once more...

And we'll start things out with a bang! Isn't this a beauty? You all know it's the Tower of the Four Winds. "Meet Me Beneath the Tower of the Four Winds and Bring Me a Sammich While You're At It" was a popular slogan at the Fair. Walt Disney's Imagineers depleted the nation's critical supply of doohickeys when they built this thing, giving the commies a temporary advantage.

Where else would you find a replica of Grauman's Chinese Theater than at the "Hollywood USA" pavilion? "Visitors can be photographed in exact replicas of sets from Cleopatra and South Pacific, walk through a street scene from West Side Story and watch a duel on the 'Gunsmoke' set." I would have preferred a "Munsters" scene, but that's just me.

Have you ever seen a fountain surrounded by a giant fence of barbed wire? They had one at the Fair! The symbolism is lost on me, but if you call it the Astral Fountain it sounds friendlier. And from the looks of things, if the spikes didn't keep you away, the unpredictable water spray did. Unless you like that sort of thing. Toddlers and Swedes, I'm looking at you.


TokyoMagic! said...

Did that large barbed wire cage over the Astral Fountain rotate? I remember seeing some home movie footage of it that looked like it was turning.

They should have saved Rolly Crump's Tower of the Four Winds and brought it to Disneyland when the fair closed. Maybe they could have put it somewhere in Tomorrowland near Mary Blair's murals. It would look a heck of a lot better today than that piece of space junk that's currently on top of the old PeopleMover station.

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

The Four Wind tower sure was whimsical, so many doohickeys its a feast for the eyes! Seems to me you could recreate this for a lot less money than you'd think, its just a bunch of bent pipes and sheet metal.

The Astral Fountain is wild and wet! The symbolism is lost on my too... In fact, its pretty darn ugly...

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoM, it never occurred to me that the barbed wire rotated. Hmm... I wonder if there's footage on YouTube that would show it? It is a shame that they junked the Tower of the Four Winds... it was pretty large, so I'm not sure how they could have put it near the murals, but they certainly could have found room back near IASW, that area is huge.

VDT, it does seem like the Tower would be cheap to recreate, but you know how modern day safety ordinances and bureaucracy would drive up the costs considerably. Just build it, dammit! ;-)

Connie Moreno said...

Man, I sure wish I could have gone!

JG said...

What the Major said.

That fountain is scary, who thought that was a good idea?


Bill Cotter said...

Yes, the metal cage of stars on the Astral Fountain did rotate. The fountain looked better in real life than it might in that shot. It sure was big!

The curtained windows underneath the Tower of the Four Winds was the VIP lounge. After some unpleasant experiences down at street level the Disney characters were moved to the walkway outside the lounge.

Anonymous said...

tower of the four winds was a spinning, whirling, kinetic masterpiece of energy and motion. when I remember the fair as a kid, I remeber the tower, the ele vators on the ny state pavilion in constant motion, the skyway ride constantly criss-crossing the fair,all of the flags everywhere blowing in the wind, in short, the fairgrounds were in constant motion!very exciting to see!full of energy and excitement! helicoptors landing on the roof of the port authority,giant water fountains everywhere! the fair was alive! photos dont do it justice.

Katella Gate said...

Could the Tower be rebuilt today? Easily and cheaply... I don't see anything in the structure that's going to conflict with modern codes since the structure is uninhabited (take out the lounge)so you're off the hook with fire and handicapped access codes, and has no weird "distribution of mass" problems (rockets over Peoplemover platform)so the more stringent seismic codes don't kick in.

So why wasn't it rebuilt? One of three reasons I suppose.

COPYRIGHT problems: It wouldn't surprise me if the World's Fair commission had control of all the external marquees used at the fair to keep the fair's fare fairly unique.

DUPLICATION: Disney's philosophy at this time was "Do it New": Walt may not have liked the idea of simply copying something that was a compromise to begin with.

OUT OF STYLE: Before anybody throws eggs at me, everything goes out of style for a time, even the good stuff (Bach's music was used as fish wrap after he died).

"Tower" is interesting because it's both forward and backward looking: Between 1955 and 1975 color pallets moved from Nordic to Tropical, reaching insane levels of intensity in the psychedelic movement. Rolly's onboard with warm colors, so the colors are forward looking.

The reservations may have come from the tower's "math graph" elements, most noticeable at the top. This was a 50's thing that held on for a long time but by the mid-60's it and run its course.

Today we can look at the Tower with the benefit of nostalgia, but in 1966 Tower might have looked a little too quaint for use at Disneyland.

TokyoMagic! said...

I agree Major, placing it near Small World would have been off to the left in what used to be the Small World "Meadow" area. I wonder why they got rid of a Fantasyland Train Station when Small World was built, only to rebuild one 28 years later with the addition of Toontown? They could've still had the train stop in Fantasyland and used this as the train station! OH WELL!

Major Pepperidge said...

Bill, thanks for the confirmation about the fountain's rotation!

Anonymous, I envy your experiences at the Fair.

KatellaGate, you make a convincing argument, and yet I still think that it would cost a lot more than it SHOULD. I also think that you are on to something when in regards to the "duplication" and "style" considerations.

Chris, I wonder if the elimination of Fantasyland Station was seen as a benefit (the train trip might take a few minutes less, so... higher capacity)? Toontown Station is a joke, since it is merely for looks.

Nancy said...

Anonymous, i too am envious that you got to experience the Fair and remember so much of it. we are so lucky that all these nice ppl took so many great photos with their Kodaks :)

Tower of the Four Winds...such a great loss, up there for me with Skyway and Adventure Thru Inner Space

how do ya like that giant hand next to the Theater entrance...what was that about, i wonder?? pretty sure that wasnt there when i saw the real Theater in Hollywood back in 2001 LOL~ we did take a picture of my dad's cousin's signature and prints (Nelson Eddy)

personally i like the fountain. i like big stuff, like aircraft carriers, big planes (B52, B36), windmills, ferris wheels like The Eye in London, etc)

thanks, Major, for an awesome trip to the Fair!!

Anonymous said...

I was born and raised in nassau county long island, and to this day, when we drive into the city on the long island expressway, when we get to the old worlds fair grounds, I can STILL see the worlds fair in my mind! some of the structures are still there,like the unisphere, new york state pavilion, port authority, hall of science etc. but my mind still remembers the fairgrounds, and I can still visualize it. its funny how our minds work. when we get to a certain point on the long island expressway I can see like it only yesterday!

Bill Cotter said...

Some more images of the HOLLYWOOD USA pavilion:

Major Pepperidge said...

Thank you very much, Bill!