Saturday, July 06, 2019

New York World's Fair, General Foods & More

We're back at the Fairgrounds in Queens, New York, for a look at some construction photos from the 1964 New York World's Fair! I always like a good construction pic. The first example is date stamped "3 - 64".

It's so strange to see cars just parked here and there, but it's understandable; the grounds were so huge... might as well let the workers park nearby. This image was taken near the entrance to the Fair (the train station would be to the left); the distinctive 60-foot high arch in front of us was one of 11 sponsored by General Foods. The electronic signs displayed "...special bulletins on significant local, national and international news"

I've always loved the old General Foods logo, created by legendary designer Walter Dorwin Teague in 1962. (The venerable Saul Bass designed a new logo in 1984 that is nice, and yet... I don't like it as much).

Looking to the right, we can see the steel skeleton of a building that is far from completion, even though the Fair was supposed to open in April. The sign out front is just legible - "The World of Food". It turns out that the WoF would never be completed, in spite of the fact that it was to be one of the largest pavilions, and located on prime real estate just 75 feet from the entrance. 

Ground was broken for the pavilion in early 1963. Exhibitors in the pavilion were to include Lipton Tea, Hershey Chocolate, Adolph's Inc., Pepsi-Cola and Roman Products.

The Bowery Boys  website (which I recommend if you are interested in the history of New York City) has a succinct account of this forgotten pavilion: 

The building was to celebrate cooking and gardening, with weekly festivals devoted to a particular food (shrimp, apples), a rooftop ‘edible garden’ and a model kitchen with the most innovative home appliances.  A teen center on the ground floor would host cook-outs and clam-bakes with appearances by the hottest young stars of film and television.

It would have, that is, except the organizers ran out of money, and a large gaping construction site sat like an open sore marring the fairgrounds.  Moses and fair organizers wanted to level the site immediately, fighting it out in court with the World of Food organizers.  Finally, two weeks before the opening, the uncompleted venue was finally torn down.

But there was no time to fill the lot, so on opening day, an odd gap in an otherwise tightly organized grounds greeted visitors.

Below is a second photo of the construction for the World of Food pavilion, this one date-stamped  "April 1964", though the photo was almost certainly taken weeks or months before that.

Here's some concept art that shows what the finished building was going to look like. I'm glad to have a few photos of this never-completed pavilion with its unfortunate (but fascinating) history.

I have lots more photos from the 1964 New York World's Fair, so stay tuned.


Nanook said...

What a fascinating story about the World of Food. I can't imagine why every teenager within spitting distance wouldn't be running towards the pavilion to take advantage of "... cook-outs and clam-bakes with appearances by the hottest young stars of film and television". Wow-! (Yawn). Oh... in the first image, that's a 1955 two-tone Ford sitting in front of a 1962 Chevrolet.

Another shout-out to the 1962 General Foods logo.

Thanks, Major.

Melissa said...

A building that's never finished is almost as sad as one that's abandoned. A really interesting post today.

They could have based a pavilion around their International Coffees.

Nanook said...

@ Melissa-
I think that "fine delicacy" had yet to 'hit the shelves'. Although it's a grand thought.

Chuck said...

That waterfall in the concept art would have been amazing. Plus - clambakes!

Interesting counterpoint - at the same time that the World of Food was torn down to avoid letting visitors see a stalled, ugly, incomplete eyesore, there was a big, gaping hole in the ground in Disneyland about where the Chicken Plantation had stood. That stalled, ugly, incomplete eyesore sat unfinished for years, yet suffered a completely different fate.

TokyoMagic! said...

Wow, that is a fascinating history of a pavilion that was almost built....or partially built.

Based on that curved brick wall on the far left of the first pic, I see that the World of Food would have been located just inside of the Main Entrance or "Gate 1." I just checked a couple different maps of the Fair and they show that spot as just an open area of grass. So it looks like nothing substantial ever replaced the World of Food pavilion, after it's construction site was cleared.

That website stated that souvenirs from the pavilion, continued to be sold at the Fair's souvenir stands. That must have been confusing for people who may have wanted to visit the nonexistent pavilion!

Andrew said...

This stuff really fascinates me. I'd love to learn more about it. Thanks for the fun post today!

stu29573 said...

I think I would have enjoyed a clam bake as a kid! The hottest young artists! I probably wouldn't have lknown them, as that was before I awakened to "cool" music, but I might have been impressed. It was all not to be because 1. It was never built. 2. I never went to the fair anyway.... Sigh...

JC Shannon said...

Major and Nanook, you both are men of great taste. The GF logo is very cool indeed. As for me, I can't get enough of those cool light fixtures as well. Even today, they still look good. My brother David really wanted to see the Ford Pavilion and I remember a pearl diver in the Polynesian exhibit, who would get you an Oyster with a pearl in it in this huge pool. Very cool. I also remember how big the Unisphere was when you were up close to it. Now I want clams for dinner. Thanks Major.

K. Martinez said...

General Foods acquired Perkins Products, maker of Kool-Aid before the 1962 World's Fair. Just think! Fair goers could of been drinking the "Kool-Aid" all day along convinced life was good.

Very cool and unusual NYWF '64 post today. Didn't know there was an uncompleted pavilion. Thanks, Major

Melissa, my mom had stacks of General Foods International Coffee containers full of that coffee powder in the house when I was growing up. To this day, I've never tried the stuff.

Melissa said...

In his autobiography, Harpo Marx tells of a movie director the brothers worked with who, before every take, would say, "Let's get out there and sell 'em a load of clams!" Every time someone mentions clams, that's the mental image I get.

dennis said...

I wasn't familiar with the World of Food story. I always learn something from reading this blog. Looking forward to more 64WF photos!
Dennis, Levittown NY

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, maybe the idea of a clam back was super appealing in 1964. Not so much now! Maybe they could meet Bobby Vee.

Melissa, there is nothing more worldly than drinking international coffees. Classy as hell!

Nanook, I’d like regional American coffees, like from Scranton, or Missoula, or Oxnard. Think of the possiblilites.

Chuck, I didn’t even notice that that was a waterfall, so… good eye. You make a good point about the eyesore at Disneyland, but at least they had a good reason - wait until the World’s Fair was over, and redesign the Pirate Museum into something even better.

TokyoMagic!, yes, that is the weird thing, the real estate was so desirable, and yet it sat undeveloped through the Fair. Somebody screwed up big time! Another pavilion that was announced but never built was the “France” pavilion, which even got so far as to show up on some pieces of merch. I didn’t know that World of Food souvenirs also exist! Now I want some.

Andrew, I’m glad you liked this!

stu29573, is this too early for Trini Lopez?? Ricky Nelson could have shown up. Like you, I probably would have been star-struck no matter who it was.

Jonathan, yeah, those luminaires are hard to beat. Doesn’t “The Luminaires” sound like a doo-wop group? I know that some people have managed to acquire genuine luminaires, and I am very jealous.

K. Martinez, thank goodness that Kool-Aid wasn’t at the fair, the Kool-Aid man would have destroyed the place. Now I need to look up General Foods International Coffees to see what amazing flavors were available for purchase.

Melissa, I have Harpo’s autobiography, but haven’t read it yet! I like to think that I sell all of you a load of clams every day.

dennis, don’t worry, lots more photos from the Fair are coming!

Dean Finder said...

A few of the General Foods arches found new lives after the fair. Although electronic message boards are commonplace now, the combination of electronic messages and large transparencies was novel at the time. There's a lot of interesting info about how they worked at

dennis said...

One of those arches is pretty close to where I live. On Hempstead Turnpike, in West Hempstead, NY.

TokyoMagic! said...

It's interesting that the 1962 design for the General Foods logo used "orange and blue," which turned out to be the official colors of the 1964-65 World's Fair!

Melissa said...


ericpaddon said...

For the full story on what happened to the World of Food pavilion, this feature best summarizes events.

Some of the planned exhibitors for the World Of Food later found space in the Better Living Center pavilion like Hershey Chocolate (they prepared special Fair wrappers on Hershey candy bars that noted the World of Food pavilion and then they had to change them to the Better Living Center)

Anonymous said...

A sad story here. Melissa is right, the only thing worse than an abandoned building is one that is never finished.

Although, oddly, my favorites are the ones that are never started. We draw all the drawings and get paid, and the project is abandoned and goes in the drawer without ever breaking ground. No one loses money or gets sued during construction. Win-win all around.

The construction photo is striking to me to see the size of the steel framing. It is very thin and spindly compared to what today's codes require.

The GF logo is brilliant. Can't imagine why they felt it necessary to change it.

Thank you, Major.