Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Chrysler Pavilion, 1964 New York World's Fair

The Chrysler Pavilion at the 1964/65 New York World's Fair would have been high on my list of "must do" attractions - and that is saying something, given the mind-boggling wonders that were there for the choosing.

In this first photo, you see the "Giant Animated Engine". Among the things guests would see when walking inside was a "…writhing, twisting, squirming dragon (he's enormous!) who drives three 8-foot pistons. They're animated too. Giant hands operate the engine valves. A monstrous 'spider' descend upon a hapless fly. Two huge paddles toss a ping-pong ball endlessly between them. These are just a few of the delightfully imaginative goings-on". 

So basically, it was just like the engine in my car. Only a little bit bigger.

Here is a stylized 10-story rocket, continuously blasting off with a plume of water spray. Which is a pretty neat idea! The U.S. Space Program was going strong in 1964, with Project Gemini and Project Apollo in their early stages. "Stages"! A rocket pun! 

Inside the pavilion's main building (the "Show-Go-Round"), a circular stage that rotated to reveal four different "phases", with four auditoriums that surrounded the stage so that the audience watches a different part of the show simultaneously. After watching a film, and then performances by Bil Baird's puppets (including "singing and dancing gaskets, dancing spark plugs, animated carburetors and living seat belts"), you would finally see an experimental car that was (according to the show) completely assembled by the puppets. I'm not sure if the man on the left is Bil Baird or not.

Sorry this one is a little blurry; from what I can glean, this automobile was an example of Chrysler's revolutionary Turbine Car (which used a rotating compressor that turned at nearly 45,000 rpm). It was the only turbine car that was tested by a few lucky consumers. You'll read more about it in a future post!

I hope that you have enjoyed your visit to the Chrysler Pavilion!


Nanook said...


Somewhere in my long-lost past existed a model of the infamous Chrysler Turbine Car, famously on-display in my bedroom.

And there's also a glimpse of the Moon Dome of the Transportation & Travel Pavilion in the second image.

Thanks, Major for a look at our favorite world's fair.

K. Martinez said...

The "giant animated engine" reminds me of artist Bill Finger's work in the Batman comics in which the stories featured giant-sized props like enlarged coins, telephones, or typewriters.

Here's some nice clean world's fair footage from British Pathe. They also have a few pretty cool videos of 1960'sDisneyland footage.


There's nothing like that other Tomorrowland of the 1960's; the New York World's Fair. Thanks, Major.

Tom said...

K. Martinez - that was an excellent little snippet of the fair! Good to see all those awesome Luminaires looking fresh and colorful.

I think Jay Leno has one of those turbine cars; I know he has a turbine of some make. Don't know why they never caught on.

dennis said...

The first picture is from 1964. They painted the engine with brighter colors in 65.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, that sounds like a very cool model! Maybe it would have had some value these days. I love that moon dome! Some day my mansion will need one of those.

K. Martinez, that sounds vaguely familiar, like a cutaway of somebody's lair, showing such things as the underground grotto with a secret underwater passageway for a submarine. Thanks for the link to that beautiful footage! If only I could have seen it myself.

Tom, Jay Leno does have one of the turbine cars, he did a whole video essay on it that is really interesting, you can find it on YouTube fairly easily.

Dennis, yes, all of the Chrysler structures received repainting, in bright pinks, oranges, and yellows. It was like early psychedelia!