Thursday, December 12, 2013

Futurama - 1964 New York World's Fair

General Motors' "Futurama" was the single most-popular attraction at the 1964/65 New York World's Fair (although the Vatican pavilion gave it a run for its money). The enormous pavilion (230,000 square feet) had many wonderful displays, but it was the the ride system, consisting of a continuously-moving train of up-to-three-passenger "lounge chairs" that allowed a capacity of some 5,500 people per hour. A busy day could bring as many as 70,000 visitors through "The Ride" (it was repeatedly referred to as "The Ride" in some promotional material). What an experience it must have been.

Today I have four photos from The Ride, starting with two that showed how life in the future would include undersea farming, mining, exploration, and recreation. I couldn't find any mention of what this specific structure was supposed to be used for… you can see at least one tiny person inside the dome of the saucer-shaped structure, as if he was overseeing some delicate industry.

This thing looks pretty fragile, but I'm sure that it was made with transparent aluminum and could withstand the pressure of thousands of atmospheres. The vehicle was used to retrieve golf balls from the nearby underwater driving range.

Now we've left the sea, passed through deserts and mountains (all improved through science and technology) and we're flying through the air. In the distance, a modern city can be seen. Let's swoop down for a closer look!

This city of the future looks like something out of the movie "Logan's Run" (it's time for Carousel!), minus the giant glass domes.  The city worked on multiple levels, with lower levels for some mass-transit, utilities and infrastructure, as well as the moving of freight, which could be achieved without affecting the fully automated highways up above. The upper levels were for fun and happiness and minimal Morlock invasions.


Anonymous said...

Love the World's Fair! Our new vinyl replacement windows have transparent aluminum instead of old fashiony glass, and for New Year's we're going to fill the house with water and invite some whales to count down the Big Ball with our friends.

Bill in Denver

Dan Heaton said...

This is such an intriguing precursor to the Future World rides in EPCOT when it opened. Thanks for posting the great photos!

K. Martinez said...

I remember seeing several photos of the NYWF '64 Futurama exhibit in various magazines when I was a child. It so fascinated me that I'd visit those pictures again and again. It definitely held that sense of wonder for me. Futurama reminds me Disney's swan song to optimistic futurism, Horizons.

Melissa said...

Now I’m going to have the Horizons theme stuck in my head all day! (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) And Logan’s Run is one movie I never get tired of re-watching.

Just think of the ride WED Enterprises could have created for the Vatican pavilion! Audio-Animatronic saints! A Michelangelo’s-eye view pass under an animated, rear-projected view of the Sistine Chapel ceiling! Boats leisurely sailing past John the Baptist ministering to his flock in the river Jordan!

Major Pepperidge said...

Bill in Denver, the good thing about transparent aluminum is that we finally have a convenient way to transport whales.

Dan Heaton, they really do seem to have a lot in common. I'm glad you liked these!

K. Martinez, "Futurama" is one of the most intriguing attractions to me; I KNOW I would have loved it. It has that Disney educational/entertainment combo and is beautifully done. YouTube videos can't do it justice, I'm sure.

Melissa, as usual, vintage Epcot is all a mystery to me. I keep hearing that various directors are going to tackle a "Logan's Run" remake, but it never quite seems to come together. I like the idea of a Disney-designed Vatican pavilion!

Dennis LevittownNY said...

Melissa, The Vatican Pavilion did have a ride of sorts. It had a moving sidewalk,like the kind you see in airports,to keep people from standing in front of Michalangelo's Pieata. It kept the crowd moving.

JG said...

Precursor to Carousel of Progress... very cool.

This era had a fixation on undersea industries. There were a number of mutual fund investment companies set up to finance undersea mining, fish farming etc. in the early '60's. All gone now.


Melissa said...

Cool, Dennis! I can imagine the crowds got pretty thick; I know if I had a chance to see the Pietà right in my own backyard I'd probably hang out in front of it as long as I could!

Now I'm getting the Horizons theme song conflated with the Vatican ride:

"If we can dream it, then we can do it,
Vat-i-Can, Vat-i-Can!"

Melissa said...

There were a number of mutual fund investment companies set up to finance undersea mining, fish farming etc. in the early '60's. All gone now.

Well, you disturb Mother Hydra, Father Dagon, Great Cthulhu, and their army of Shoggoths in the Cyclopean and many-columned city of Y'ha-nthlei once, and you're not going to be anxious to go back underwater for more.

Major Pepperidge said...

Dennis LevittownNY, why didn't people crowd in front of the audio-animatronic Pope?

JG, I seem to remember a number of old National Geographic articles that implied that undersea living was just around the corner.

Melissa, you could have moonwalked in front of the Pieta and looked at it for as long as you wished. Also, 5 points for "shoggoths".

TokyoMagic! said...

I'm picturing an audio-animatronic man with a hammer standing next to La Pieta in the Vatican Pavilion ride. And I think I can see Weeee-na in that last photo.