Thursday, September 23, 2021

From the Moondeck, 1964

If you happened to visit the Eastman Kodak pavilion during your trip to the 1964 New York World's Fair, you would probably make your way up to the undulating, slightly-surreal "Moondeck" for some wonderful views of the rest of the Fair. There were even raised platforms on the Moondeck so that you could take better pictures.  

This is what happened for one photographer, who took no less than six precious film frames while breathing moon air. Was it worth it? You be the judge.

We'll start out with kind of a whimper, there's not much to see when facing south except for the mundane "First National City Bank" and a tiny bit of the Belgian Village. Beyond the Monorail track was the Amusement Zone.

Next they faced west along the Avenue of Africa, with that nutty Unisphere towering in the distance. Can a sphere "tower"? I guess so! to the right of the Unisphere is an egg-shaped dome from the Sudan pavilion; to the right of the globe we can just see the "bones" of the Ford "Magic Skyway" pavilion, the blue cone from the Sierra Leone pavilion, and the curved wood of the American-Israel pavilion.

Pivoting a little bit left, there's one of the "moonberries" inflatable insect-filled egg pods that loomed above Brass Rail eateries. And we see the familiar New York pavilion with its two observation towers, while the General Motors "Futurama" building can be seen beyond that. The grassy area nearest to us is the Garden of Meditation.

Continuing to turn to the left, we see more of the Belgian Village, the largest pavilion at the Fair. That curved "tent" slightly to the right is the roof of the Vatican pavilion.

I had to try to do a photomerge of the previous two photos. The results are... interesting?

Our photographer walked along the Moondeck and got this north-facing shot with another moonberry (my word, which must become canon), with the Johnson's Wax arched roof beyond. The Austrian pavilion's wooden A-frames are near the center, with Shea Stadium way in the distance, and the Solar Fountain spraying impressively to the left. Nearest to us is the Pan American Highway Gardens, where guests could drive little cars. 

Once again we are facing due west, with the "Sermons From Science" building to the left, and the Japan pavilion to the extreme right.

I hope you have enjoyed your time on the breezy Moondeck!


JB said...

I think the 4th pic showcasing the Belgian Village is my favorite today. Besides being a beautiful scene, it easily looks like it could be a tranquil old-world village in Belgium, or maybe Ireland. (Except for the fluted gold roof of the Vatican Pavilion and the luminaire in the foreground, but those things add interest.)

The panorama turned out well. I wonder why the stitchery function decided to warp that one image like it did. Thanks for more NY World's Fair images, Major.

Andrew said...

It looks to be a slow day judging by the few cabins on only one side of the Sky Ride (nothing compared to this insanity!) I can see what I believe were twin log flumes as well. I'll have to research what that parachute style ride at left is later. Thanks Major!

JG said...

Major, thank you for these.

I watched the “Behind the Attractions” episode on IASW last night. It covered a lot more than Small World, covering in some detail all the attractions Disney designed for this Fair, and some of the New York politics as well. While I knew most of the individual attraction stories, it was almost terrifying to hear how they all ran in parallel simultaneously. A literal torrent of creativity coming from WED in such a short time.

Funny to hear how Pepsi sponsored IASW at the Fair, then after bringing it home to Disneyland, it was sold again to Bank of America. They didn’t cover that last bit.

I wish I could have seen this Fair. Alas for the might-have-been.


Stu29573 said...

I have never seen how the fair was laid out, and these shots do a great job of showing us that!
JG, I saw that show too, and although I was not thrilled when it started "Almost an hour covering Small World???" I was more than thrilled when I saw all of it. In my estimation (which, to me, is the most relevant estimation of all) they did a good job on those shows balancing history and entertainment.
By the way, I wanna ride the cars.
Thanks, Major!


JG: remember PepsiCo already had existing sponsorship contracts at Disneyland ( the Golden Horseshoe Revue , later in the 70’s Pepsi-Frito-Lay , Country Bear Jamboree)

In the 50’s thru the 70’s it was very common for regional companies to sponsor things at Disneyland. Bank of America ( founded in San Francisco as The Bank of Italy ) had expressed interest in sponsoring an attraction that helped tie in their expanding global
Presence. A film and exhibit had been proposed for the opera house space that ended up being used for lincoln. The BofA proposal would feature something similar to the Walt Disney Presents The Story of Money. BofA was also offered the sponsorship for WDW’s “It’s A Small World” ..... to be called “Small World Carnivale” at the time , but declined.


Clarification: An attraction similar to the Walt Disney Presents the story of money ( TV EPISODE)

DrGoat said...

Good job stitching those images together, warp and all.
My parents, uncle and aunt went to the fair, without us kids. We were both in school. I had just started high school and my sister had her first year at UofA. Don't blame them wanting some time alone without us around. We had to contend with my grandmother, which was not a walk in the park.
After taking in GDB today, I went on Youtube and checked out some videos of the fair, including a run through of IASW. Wish we could have gone. Didn't know that the Vatican loaned the Pieta to the fair. Behind bullet proof glass and an army of security guards, plus you're on a 2 mile and hour moving walkway.
Andrew, thanks for the link to insanity. I ran across the un-cropped version of that pic, and it's even more insane.
Thanks Major. That looked like a fun time.

dennis said...

The first time I ever had a French Fry was at one of those Brass Rail food stands at the Fair. The only thing I remember about the Belgian Village are the Belgian Waffles. I'm getting hungry typing this!
Dennis, Levittown, NY

Major Pepperidge said...

JB, I can’t choose a favorite. They’re like my children! The Belgian Village view is a nice one though. I’m a sucker for panoramas and merged slides, so I think that the photomerged image is the one I like the most, in spite of its flaws. Now that I am using a newer version of Photoshop, I wonder if I would have gotten a better result if I tried it now?

Andrew, just like Disneyland, it would be “the dream” to visit the 1964 World’s Fair on a day that wasn’t super crowded. Good grief, the photo you linked to is nuts! Wait until you see some photos I have from the next-to-last day, and the LAST day of the Fair.

JG, the more I hear about what the Imagineers accomplished in that short amount of time, the more I am impressed. And they weren’t turning out junk either, but state-of-the-art attractions that influenced the parks for decades. I wonder if the Pepsi sponsorship was affected by the weird Coke/Pepsi sponsorships at the park, in which Coke seemed to get the east side of the park?

Stu29573, unlike Disneyland, the Fair was kind of a sprawl, although the Unisphere was sort of the “hub”. But folks crossed bridges to get to other parts of the Fair, such as the Transportation Zone or the Amusement Zone. I think that a show could easily use an hour to cover It’s a Small World, and they wouldn’t even have to use dumb sound effects and lame jokes to do it.

Mike Cozart, aha! See my comment to JG. Disney had had a long association with B of A, remember they helped Walt finance “Snow White” after seeing an early cut. “The Story of Money”, didn’t they do a short (or featurette) about that with Scrooge McDuck eventually?

Mike Cozart, there you go!

DrGoat, I should really try restitching those images together using Photoshop CC, it might turn out much better. But I have stuff to do today! I’m sorry that dealing with your grandmother was not a walk in the park! I was lucky to have two grandmas who spoiled us. I sure miss them. The whole story of the Pieta making its way to the US is fascinating, and it is something that will never happen again, those people were lucky to see it. I got to see it in the Vatican, luckily! And I didn’t have to stand on a moving sidewalk so that they could hurry me through.

dennis, wow, hard to believe that you’d never even had French fries at a burger! But having your first frittes at the Brass Rail food stand is pretty great. And yes, every time I think of waffles with whipped cream and strawberries… YUM.

DrGoat said...

We visited the Vatican on our last trip to see the cousins, about 29 years ago. The size and scope of St. Peter's was a bit overwhelming. The artistry and amount of marble alone was a lot to take in.

DrGoat said...

That's 20 years ago.

Melissa said...

The spires of the Belgian village make me think of a line from Belgian singer/songwriter Jacques Brel's "Mon Plat Pays" (My Flat Land). "Avec des cath├ędrales pour uniques montagnes" (With the cathedrals for our only mountains).

These pictures are chock-full of You Are There. Maps are great, but nothing beats the (almost) bird's=eye view.

I've enjoyed the Behind the Attraction series, but it keeps reminding me of the old axiom that "information wants to be free." I've learned so much more about my favorite attractions from blogs like GDB, Passport 2 Dreams, Long-Forgotten, Mesa Verde Times, Yesterland, Daveland, etc., etc., etc. than I ever could from official sources, just because the bloggers loved them enough to do the research and share it. I agree that the iasw episode was one of the best.

Anonymous said...

Mike, thanks for reminding me about Pepsi sponsoring the Saloon. Part of me knew that, but the saloon isn't part of my childhood memories, and information about it doesn't leap to mind readily, but the B of A sign on IASW sure does. Just one of those weird neuron associations.

Dr. Goat, we visited the Vatican in 2014, while standing in line to see the Pieta (from about 100 yards distance and through ballistic glazing), I watched the custodian driving a giant floor polisher up the center aisle and I thought, "you will never be as cool as the guy who drives the Zamboni in the Vatican". The size of that church is overwhelming, it is easy to believe the story that Napoleon lost an entire regiment of horse cavalry in one of the transepts.


Major Pepperidge said...

DrGoat, yes, St. Peter’s is HUGE, I suppose that “awe” is the whole point. I feel like I only saw a tiny fraction of the Vatican, but that’s how it goes when you don’t have days to explore. Still, very glad I got to see it. I was relating some of what I’d learned in Art History class to my friends (while viewing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel), and soon other tourists were gathering around, much to my embarrassment.

Melissa, I am almost always disappointed by shows presented by Disney that are supposed to impart historical information. They try to be funny, and wind up being annoying. They get the opinions of celebrities who have nothing to do with anything. And so on. I agree, I’ve learned so much from some of the better websites (many that you named), that’s part of what has been so wonderful - truly new discoveries and insights that aren’t just skin-deep. I guess I should watch that IASW episode of that show!

Melissa said...

I want “you will never be as cool as the guy who drives the Zamboni in the Vatican” on my tombstone.

DrGoat said...

I guess we got lucky to go before all the craziness hit. There were only a couple of dozen people in the church and you could walk around and be within 10 feet of it. Some of the other marble tombs in there were utterly fantastic works of marble.
The crazy place, even back then, was the Uffizi in Florence. Packed with people and a bit hard to get around in. And as soon as you stepped outside, you were in danger of being run over by a motor scooter.

Anonymous said...

DrGoat, agreed, the Uffizi was a zoo. That was a very long day, but so worthwhile. We got entry tickets online and walked right past the line that stretched to the river. Unforgettable place.

Our ambition is, in a couple of years when I hang up work, to go back to Florence and stay for several months. My wife lived there for a year during school and she never forgot her way around, it was great traveling with her... "go this way... go that way..." and she was always right, never lost once. Now, Venice, on the other hand...

Melissa, you have my permission to reuse that phrase in any way you like... I'm thinking t-shirts.


Melissa said...

"Melissa, you have my permission to reuse that phrase in any way you like... I'm thinking t-shirts."

Fresh off the shelves of the GDB Store

"Lou and Sue" said...

Melissa, hahahaha!
That T-shirt, and your book of poetry, will be hits for Christmas gifts, this year!

Fun post, thanks, Major and all!

Dean Finder said...

That Austrian pavilion was moved and became a ski lodge. Sadly, it burned a few years ago/

JG said...

Melissa, that is awesome. How do we get one?


Anonymous said...