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« THEN AND NOW Photo Collection | Main | THEN AND NOW: 1964-65 New York World's Fair »
Wednesday
Feb062013

What Remains of the 1964-65 New York World's Fair?

In my last post I shared some Then and Now photos from my visit to the site of the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. In this post I share a few things from the World's Fair that still remain on the site today.

The site is now a New York City public park called Flushing Meadows Corona Park. 

The park located in Queens was once the site of the Corona Ash Dumps which were characterized as "a valley of ashes" in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. In the 1930s the dumps were cleaned up to make way for the 1939 New York World's Fair. Two World's Fairs on one site!

I was in Manhattan for the first time in a long time and decided to take the 7 train out to Flushing Meadows. The experience of arriving at the nearby train stop and seeing the iconic Unisphere is incredible. It's like arriving at Epcot and seeing Spaceship Earth. Once inside the park it's easy to spot the large sphere from almost anywhere.

The water pools from the fair still stand today. I imagine when it's not Winter they are actually full of water. Here we see the "Fountains of the Fairs".

I couldn't help but wonder if all the joggers, tennis players, and soccer players at the park knew the historical significance of the land they were enjoying.

These beautiful tile mosaics were exciting to discover. They have clearly seen better days. Turns out they aren't all that old. I believe they were added in the late 90s.

Take a close look at what I've circled here in front of General Electric's Progressland pavilion (home to Carousel of Progress). Drinking fountains and benches.

Some of them still stand today!

Several street markers still grace the curbing of the streets. Many of the World's Fair streets and their names remain unchanged.

"Court of the Universe" and the "Pool of Industry".

The most prominent structure from the fair that still remains is the New York State pavilion. It may look familiar if you've seen Men In Black or Iron Man 2. 

We see here how grand the pavilion looked during the fair.

Today it's closed to the public, rusted, full of weeds, and of course all of the colorful plexiglass tent panels are long-gone.

Apparently a bunch of cats have taken over. Distant cousins of the wild cats that live in Disneyland?

Just inside one of this gates I spotted this little sign. There's been much debate about what to do with the structure. 

The towers once offered World's Fair guests some amazing views of the fair grounds. Guest accessed the platforms via two "Skystreak" exterior elevators.

We learn the following from Queens Crap blog:

"After the fair ended in 1965, the steel-and-glass capsules were left at the mercy of decay and vandals - as one rusted away in a pit beneath the pavilion, and the other was stuck mid-rise at 150 feet. The city Parks Department stripped the pods off their cables in July 2008, fearing parts might blow off in strong winds. At the time, both were largely intact."

Sadly they are not "largely intact" anymore. I got a small glimpse between gaps in the fence at what remains of at least one of the elevators.

Across the path the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company buried a time capsule as part of their in exhibit it 1965. And get this. They buried a similar time capsule just ten feet away in 1938. Both were placed 50 feet into the ground.

A short walk away another piece of both fairs still stands. The building that is now the Queens Museum of Art was built to house the New York City Pavilion at the 1939 World's Fair. The building was home to the New York City Pavilion once again at the 1964-64 World's Fair.

I must thank @EPCOTExlorer for insisting I tour the Queens Museum of Art. I came upon a sign saying the museum was closed to the public that day and only open to school groups. I entered a side door to ask if I could use the restroom. The security guard said the main-level restrooms were closed due to some museum renovations. He was nice enough to point to an old-looking elevator and sent me to the upper-level restrooms. Inside this large elevator I was thrilled to find this model of the 1964-65 New York World's Fair.

I took only a couple photos. I figured I'd quickly use the restroom and make my way out of the closed museum without overstaying my welcome.

But of course I couldn't help myself. After returning to the elevator I decided to photograph the entire model the best I could.

Cute little Sky Ride.

General Electric's Carousel of Progress there in the center and Pepsi-Cola's It's a Small World on the lower right.

Ford Pavilion and its Magic Skyway.

State of Illinois and Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln.

I then decided to photograph something else that had caught my eye off in the corner. A small collection of World's Fair memorabilia. I think I'll recreate that metal directional sign for my office. 

This wonderful concept art (framed on the right) shows part of General Motor's "Futurama" model of a futuristic city. Though none of this was built by Disney, it's often confused with what would later debut at Disneyland as the "Progress City" model. What's the dishwasher thing on the left? I don't know.

More info about the small museum exhibit.

On my way out I snuck into a large room to see something breathtaking. I had seen photos of this large panorama many times but didn't realize it belonged to the museum in which I was wandering. When I finally made it back to that side door I thanked the security guard and said, "I must pay admission because I enjoyed far too much of your museum." He said, "Not necessary but I can't let you leave without seeing the best part." He took me to a door that led to a much closer view of the New York City panorama. Could the model in the elevator be connected to this panorama?

Needless to say, the entire experience was somewhat sacred for this student of distant Disney history. I'm sure many little remnants of the World's Fair and Walt Disney's contribution to the fair remain at Flushing Meadows. Go find them!

 

Related posts:

THEN AND NOW: 1964-65 New York World's Fair
Tomorrowland
 '67 [Part 3]
Carousel of Progress Like You’ve Never Seen It

 

References (8)

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Reader Comments (128)

I was 7 when we went to the '64 fair. My favorite was of course It's a Small World. I was mesmerized by this ride and when I had the opportunity to ride it years later at the Magic Kingdom, it brought back many memories. My mom was a child when she went to the '39 fair and was thrilled we could experience this fair. Loved looking at the pictures and hopefully can do the museum. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnn M

My high school graduation gift was a trip to NY to visit relatives and go to this fair. I wish I had taken more pictures; these photos bring back many memories. It's a shame that more of the area was not salvaged but I guess that's what happens when something like this is over. Thanks for posting the photos.

January 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersally

Your website brought back wonderful memories of the 1964/1965 NY World's Fair. A class trip in both 4th and 5th grades, parking at Shea Stadium with jets constantly flying. I was really fortunate my parents also enjoyed "The Fair" because we (all 6 of us) must have visited at least a dozen times. We lived in western NJ. I think we went to every exhibit and many,many more than once. I think we went to the GM Futurama,, GE, Pepsi's It's a Small World, Sinclair's dinosaurs, the Ford exhibit and others every visit. We saw Watusi dancers, Mexican Indians climbing and then descending a very high pole , (feet attached to a rope and circling head first.) " The Fair" was the first place that I ate wonderful, cheesy pizza! Every visit ended with a Belgium Waffle and since I don't drink soda, a visit to the Hawaiian Pavillion for some pineapple juice. I remember being sad at the end of each visit. A special memory is returning after the fair closed (approx. within 6) months) and my father bought a flag pole. It was one that flew the flags on the bridges that crossed the Long Island, Van Wyck or Central Expressways. The flag pole is at the community building in his small hometown. There are just too many great memories to write them.

January 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRB

I went to the World's Fair in the summer of 1964 with friends from Flemington, NJ, and also attended it in the summer of 1965 with my father, who had gone to the 1939 World's Fair. I remember paying a buck for a card punch computer answer to a problem. I had about 10 or 20 punched cards for souvenirs, each had maybe a word on them..........things have changed!

April 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVan Worman

This is a great site that helped me relive my visit with my folks to the fair in 1965. I was 9 years old at the time and thought it was a grand event. I hope I can find our pictures from that vacation to also enjoy once again. My souvenir from the fair was a hat with fair logo that also had a feather. I wore that hat all through the fair and the rest of the vacation. I still had the hat just a few years ago and maybe still do. I'll have to look for it too. Thanks for helping me to relive some wonderful times and happy memories from the New York World's Fair!

April 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn Yancey

There may be other remnants of the Worlds Fair that were moved off site. I believe there are two in Stamford, CT: The Alaska pavilion had two oversized totem poles, carved specially for the World's Fair. They are now at the Nature Center in Stamford; as I recall, they are labeled as such. Not far away is a building I've been told was the Traveler's Insurance pavilion - on a hill overlooking the High Ridge Road exit from the Merit Parkway. The story I've heard is that the building was always intended to be dis-assembled and moved to its current location for use as an office building. While the shape matches my memory of the pavilion, and pictures I've seen, I don't know if this is indeed the case. (I've never found a marker on the building itself.)

It would be interesting to know if any other significant pieces of the World's Fair moved elsewhere and lived on.

April 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJerry Leichter

I have a official visitor n.y. world's fair 1964-1965 Arlington Hat (straw hat) in good condition any one know the value? Or want's to but it? Bernum56@yahoo.com

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpaul b.britt

I'm born and raised in MI....we visited our family in Lansdale PA and went to the fair
from there...
My cousin kept buying beer when he wasn't old enough and i was terrified we would get
arrested!! i can't remember anything else!

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterchrisP

I was born in 1961. My family lived in Springfield Gardens, Queens.
I vividly remember our frequent visits to the fair each summer.

As grand as many of the pavilions were most were designed as temporary structures.
Can you imagine what would have happened had they remained during NYC's fiscal
crisis of the 1970's?

I have continued to enjoy my visits to Flushing Meadows Park since the fair closed.
It's sad the fair is gone but the park is well used today - just go on any summer Sunday.

Another remnant of the 64/65 fair not mentioned are the so-called Candela structures.
Information here: http://candelastructures.org/info.html

June 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher Platt

I was at the fair a number of times as a teen. I was also there on Oct. 17th, 1965, the last day and witnessed people taking anything they could carry out. After learning about the 1939 New York fair, I realized that given the location which had all the infrastructure already there from the 39 fair, Robert Moses ripped the city off. As grand as we thought the 64 fair was, the 39 was larger and far grander with real "pavilions" and was built from a huge swampy garbage dump during the country's depression. Moses also was paid $108,000 a year (Mayor Wagner was getting $40,000) and had the fair lot ready made for him. The fair was a financial failure and sadly is a detterent for another New York World Fair.

July 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJL

Nice blog! Brought back memories and great read on the whole, thank you. Our family went from Cali to New York in '64 to visit family/friends, the New York World's Fair was the last stop and quite an experience for a 12-year-old west coast punk. I have a library of slides I'm converting to .jpg format with a few exhibits, including the underground house, Firestone Ferris wheel, etc. looking forward to going through them again, keeping in mind all you have posted here "Then/Now" at the New York World's Fair site. I also have a '64 LIFE Magazine with the NY World's Fair on the cover. Thanks again.

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoad Warrior

Just a side note, The "Cute Little Sky Ride" on the model is indeed cute. The real one was not Little tho, in fact it was a double/dual (2 loops).
It still exists to this day, and is in very good condition. It was moved to Great Adventure in Jackson NJ, and is still as enjoyable a ride as (I immagine) it was at the fair.

July 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPete

The Great Adventure history webpage states their skyride incorporates components
from the 1964/65 New York World's Fair and Freedomland:

http://www.greatadventurehistory.com/Skyride.htm

July 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher Platt

Hi…Great site…I was at the fair in 64 and 65 as a very young child. I remember an exhibit that featured a gigantic miniature (oxymoron?) train set….there were hundreds of trains, but i have found nothing about this exhibit ever.
Was this my imagination? Please help

July 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSeth Mendelson

In 1964, our folk group, the RKT's Trio, played at the Pavillion as one of a number of groups from Cayuga County. We were asked back and played again in 1965. We had a great time both years.

August 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKen h

My mum visited the world fair as a child, I've seen photos of my mum, aunt, uncle and great uncle outside the globe and fountain area. I never realised parts are still there. Mum moved back to Northern Ireland in her 20's.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSinead

I

have 2 orange blue white direction signs metal 1964-65 call (518) 827-5898.

October 22, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpeter j tummiinello

This makes me sick. Why do we have to let things we build for recreation disintregate and not take care of them for future use. To say we do not have the money is a real CROCK. Funny when the issue is money for WIC, money for cheese, money for EBT cards, free phones, free transportation, free healthcare, what have you, we have plenty but we never have enough when we talk about social security or keeping up our history. And I bet those who get all the free handouts are the ones who swim in the fountains and ruin it for those of us who pay taxes.

October 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJake Lakota

Hello- I am looking for information, photos, and or recordings of my mother performing at the World's Fair. She was part of a folk group called "The Four Winds"- Lorene Wetterhahn. A group of four girls, they won 1st place. She said it was in 1965. I thought it would be awesome to gather some evidence of this moment of fame for her and future generations. I will be very happy with copies (although I would certainly buy originals as well). Please contact me at cblaine222 at gmail dot com.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterConnie B

My parents took us to the 64 fair, they had gone as newlyweds to the 39 fair ,also. My mother had wanted to audition as a swimmer for Billy Rose's spectacular, I guess my
father didn't take to the idea!

December 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterrandy T.

My Aunt Helen from Baltimore MD took my sister and I, from Norfolk VA, to the fair. I remember the globe sphere and still have couple momentos. Thanks for the history....

December 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGail O.

Really appreciate the memories, i was dancer in the Polynesian Pavilion.

December 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFofo Tuitele

My husband and I met at the World's Fair in June, 1964 in the Coca Cola Pavilion. We were both on our Senior class trip, he from CT and me from Ohio. We were married in July of 1965 and returned there on our honeymoon. It would be great to go back for our 50th anniversary! That is why I was looking for information as to what is still there. Part of the Wisconsin pavilion is in Neilsville, WI. I saw it there back in 1993 when our sons owned a dairy near there. Thank you for this post of pictures.

December 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBonnie

What a wonderful site! I decided to google the World's Fair tonight and saw your site. What memories it brought back! I was in high school during the Fair and visited there a number of times. I still clearly remember seeing the pavilions you mentioned, and walking through the areas. One of the pavilions was the Parker Pen Pavilion. They had their version of a "computer" in those days. You would fill out a paper, it would go into a machine, and out would come the name and address of a pen pal from another country. I received the name of a male from Malaysia. Can you believe, 50 years later, we STILL write to each other!!!! Thanks for the great site.

December 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarge

Great site! I was born after the fair, (1972), but lived in Flushing as a kid. My dad took me to Corona Park to roller skate. I was one of those kids that "ruined it all" for everyone, and would put my feet in the Unisphere fountain on hot days! I was talking with my dad about the fair not long ago, and asked him if he went, and he casually mentions "Oh yeah, I sang at the fair with my high school choir". What!?! In forty years, he never mentioned he sang at the Singer Bowl!

January 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLizG

I was at the opening of the 1964 World's Fair. Marched with the Virginia Tech Regimental Band called the Highty Tighty's. I had forgot just how big this event was. Great memories. I will go back to Flushing Meadows on my next trip to New York for sure.

January 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMason Epperly

I went there for a day trip Summer, 1965. I went as a reward for having a certain number of new subscriptions for the Philadelphia Bulletin (defunct 1981). I enjoyed it. Aside from the buildings, I remember the Chrysler Turbine Car.

February 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLon

Slight mistake. Someone said world's fair of 1964-64. Hope someone catches it. I loved the fair. I used to go every other weekend with my relatives. I never got bored. We used to eat lunch by the unisphere. It was peaceful and refreshing. Too bad they didn't have another one.

March 15, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterwayne

there is one this year its in milan italy from may to october the theme is feeding the planet

March 19, 2015 | Unregistered Commentertimothy brown

My husband and myself born and raised in Corona raised our family there in 1964-64 we went to Disney and we have home movie of its a small world . Great memories

April 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterVirginia

The nearest ride to the site of the world's fair which is still in operation today is the skyride. Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, Nj about an hours drive for the site still operates the sky ride which came from this world's fair. Yes the vehicles have since been replaced and many parts but the towers and many other things are still as they were

April 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJim

Thank you for this. I am actually old enough to remember going to the Worlds Fair with my parents. Much of what you described I saw first hand. I was young and the ride in the SKYSTREAK scared me half to death but I remember my mom going on and waving as she went up. I also remember the vendors. They had everything. I had my very first Belgian Waffle with Strawberries and Whipped Cream. Been hooked ever since. And I cant take the parkway past the fairgrounds without hearing "It's a small world after all" in my head. Everywhere you went the people were laughing and enjoying themselves. It was a different time back then. Thank you for the walk down memory lane.

April 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

>The multiple colored lights you see on the fairway are now at the Orange County
> Fairgrounds in Middletown, NY. They still work!

Some of them were relocated to a Poconos resort (the Penn Hills, I think), which is, itself, now closed and left to rot. I see those light standards every time I drive up PA Route 191/447.

April 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Maher

Hello! You may be interested in a show that the Godwin-Ternbach Museum, Queens College is havgin this June-July, 2015 called "PERSUASIVE IMAGES: Architecture of the 1939–40 & 1964–65 New York World’s Fairs" which will feature photos and objects from Queens College Historical Society. You can visit gtmuseum.org or e-mail Museum Director, Amy Winter: Amy.Winter@qc.cuny.edu for more information.

May 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

The shots of the fair in the winter reminded me of my visit there in 1969; I had been there in the 1965 season and yet by 4 years later it all seemed so forlorn. Perhaps if Vietnam had not engulfed the county, the grand plans for the park would have happened. The recent pictures brought back to me how I was struck by how sad it all appeared. Such a great vibrant place now seeking some friends.

May 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Norvell

WOW !
I attended this Worlds Fair in 1965. I was in the Army and stationed at Ft.Meade in Maryland. One weekend some buddies said let's go to New York, to the Worlds Fair. At that particular point in history everyone needed a place to escape to and the "Fair" offered a look at the future and what it might bring. First thing to catch my eye, was the 1965 Ford Mustang (1964 1/2) and I knew the minute I saw it, that I would own one. Being from the west coast I never had the chance to visit New York City or any of the boroughs around the area. So, I was completely blown away. Seven Mustangs later this old boy from the West Coast wants you to know that those few days in the city were some of the most memorable, and a chance to relive it is very much appreciated.
Thanks so much for the look back.

May 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNeil

In the memorabilia cabinets photo, one of the artifacts is a small replica of U.S. Royal Tires' ferris wheel. Imitating Henry Ford's dismantling of the 1939 Fair's Ford Pavilion and reconstruction of it in Detroit as the Ford Rotunda welcome center to company headquarters, U.S. Royal brought it's ferris wheel to Detroit and reconstructed it with a 'tread' and have made it a Detroit icon along the interstate from Detroit Metropolitan Airport to downtown. Search on "Detroit Big Tire" (or "Ford Rotunda") for images.

May 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTrey Greene

I was there for opening day and worked at the Fair for the first season. I made photos of everything in the park during the summer of `63.
Thank God, I had the opportunity to work in such a wonderful World's Fair. All of us who had the opportunity, will never forget it. I still remember the first time l walked in. I have cherished my photographs through out my life. Thank you New York.

May 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Godfrey

I am happy to say that I was there in 1964. It is a shame that some of the other buildings could not have been preserved. In fact, I wish that the Perisphere and Trylon had been preserved. It isn't like the property was developed for anything special after the fairs ended. Why don't American's have as much pride in our heritage as Europeans do? Thank you for your time and effort in putting this on the internet for all to see and "visit"! (And, for allowing us to comment on it all...)....Hrabina Krystyna

May 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChristina Czerwinski

FYI after demolition the fairgrounds became Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
A few of the structures remain; most well re-purposed, one prominently left to ruin.

Today the park is very well used by residents of the surrounding communities.
On any summer Sunday afternoon there are probably more people there
than ever attended either World's Fair.

May 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher Platt

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