Friday, March 11, 2011

Futurama, 1964 World's Fair

General Motors' FUTURAMA was the biggest draw of the 1964/65 New York World's Fair, with over 29 million visitors. That's a daily average of about 80,000 visitors. Impressive! This was an updated version of the Futurama that was designed by Norman Bel Geddes for the 1939/40 New York Fair.

Today I have 7 interior photos from 1965 for you! We'll start with this view of the Moon: On the moon there is no air to breathe. No rain to fall. No sound that can be heard. Nothing can grow or can decay in the vacuum of this time-stilled world.

Yet here is man. Exploring. Building his first bridge head in his span of space. Lunar rovers float magically over powdered plains. Range the crater's edge. Their elastic train-like bodies conforming to every surface character of the moon.

Here's a weather station in Antarctica ...forecasting to the world the great climatic changes born in the Antarctic's never-ending winds. Technicians, kept warm within their walls of ice, gather data from the deapths of space; from polar winds; surrounding seas. In microseconds, relaying information wherever needed anywhere on earth.

Under the sea: ...aquacopters search the ocean floor to find, miles deep, vast fields of precious minerals and ores. And in the deepest trenches of the seas, study at first hand long hidden secrets of survival. Work easily the rich oil deposits of the Continental Shelves while trains of submarines transport materials and goods along the waterways of the under sea.

And in warmer seas are new realms of pleasure: A weekend, if you wish, at Hotel Atlantis in the kingdom of the sea! A holiday of thrills and of adventure. Of beauty and enchantment. Of radiant wonders in the sun bright gardens of the seas.

In the Amazonian rainforests: First, a searing ray of light -- a laser beam -- cuts through the trees. Then a giant machine, a factory on wheels, grinds up the stumps and jungle growth, sets the firm foundations, forms the surface slabs, sets them in place and the roadway bed is paved.

These forest highways now are bringing to the innermost deapths of the tropic world the goods and materials of progress and prosperity creating productive communities that can enter profitably the markets of the world and offering to us all enchanting tours through the storybook forests of tropic lands.

We've passed through mountain territories and are approching vast deserts: And for our deserts a new technology: waters from the sea made fresh as rain to nourish crops planted in the sand. Produce from seed to shipment, programmed and processed by a new agriculture. A science of plenty for an ever growing world.

And finally, we approach the City of Tomorrow: All roads lead, as they have for centuries, to the great centers of commerce and communication as the Continental Highway now leads us to the city of tomorrow.

Here the city first receives its goods and produce from the factories and the fields of the world. Plazas of urban living rise over freeways.

I'd like to recommend the excellent website to anybody who is interested in this great World's Fair!

Also, check out this wonderful promotional video to get a sense of the ride:


Nancy said...

....and the statue goes to.... Major Pepperidge!!

what a completely awesome post!

i really really really wish i had been to this World's Fair, but you know the closest i got to NYC that year was Niagara Falls

thanks for these oh so cool views of an imagined future that sadly never came to pass, and i now have some fun re-reading to do on this snowy morning here in back East. cheers!

Pilsner Panter said...

Wow! I've never seen such sharp and detailed photos of the GM Futurama, and the seven-minute film is the icing on the cake. I don't think that anyone today would agree with using giant machines to carve up the Amazon jungle, but... such was the mid-20th century notion of progress. It had its built-in faults and limitations, it was overreaching a bit, but nobody ever believed in it more or presented it better than Walt Disney did.

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Were these amateur photos? They look pretty professional.

I want to work at the weather station in Antarctica - that is the coolest control room ever! Thunderbird are go!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nancy, it's an honor just to be nominated!

Pilsner Panter, I agree, it is a bit weird to see that they thought of the rain forest as just something to be cut down. BTW, "Futurama" was not one of the Disney-produced attractions at the fair!

VDT, so funny, I thought the same thing about that one scene - it TOTALLY reminds me of "Thunderbirds".

stu29573 said...

That was Brilliant! I can see how people would assume it was Disney!

JG said...

Wow Major, very cool stuff. Remember when Wall St. Was full of mutual funds who were investing in companies to exploit the oceanograPhic riches on the sea floor?

Every thing runs in trends, first it was pillage, now sustainable. Tomorrow?

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, I mostly remember issues of National Geographic, with articles all about how the sea contained limitless resources. Those were the days!

Chris Jepsen said...

Outstanding post, Major!

Let's all save our lunch money, buy some land, and rebuild the whole damn NYWF so we can enjoy it ourselves! I was clearly born at the wrong time.

jedblau said...

It reminds me of the dear-departed Horizons from EPCOT. One of my all-time favorite rides.

Anonymous said...

I got seperated from my family at the G.M. pavilion.8 year old boy, so my mom must of been freaking out. A real nice lady G.M. employee took care of me and helped me find my family. I enjoyed Futurama but I loved the "concept cars" that were on display. The super-cars of the future, here today! Thanks again Major for the great Worlds Fair pictures!-- Dennis

Major Pepperidge said...

Chris Jepsen, boy do I know how you feel!

jedblau, I never saw Horizons (though I've seen photos)... EPCOT was sort of a "permanent World's Fair" back in those days, wasn't it?

Anon, if you check out my post from November 9, 2010, you'll see a few photos of those neat concept cars.

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