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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)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (128)

It's good to know that it's being used well as a park. I haven't been in NY in a number of years, and when I lived there, the park was seldom used. We need parks, too! Thanks for the insight!

May 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChristina Czerwinski

I am emotionally deluged with a torrent of memories of the 1964-65 World's Fair. I was living in Brooklyn at the time and would spend all my spare time at the fair. In '64 I fell madly in love with a Japanese dancer. I was heartbroken when the troupe did not return for '65. Then in '65 I met a Hawaiian dancer and she became my "fair girlfriend". I am 75 years old today and in a very high state of "decrepitation." All I have are my memories of yesterday when I was young. Thank you for posting these wonderful pictures.

June 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Richardson

Great and interesting article, I do hope that the remaining building are preserved in some way.

June 7, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Thanks SO much for the memories. I was 16 years old when my parents took us to the fair. What incredible memories. Great job with all of the photos. Thanks again!

June 19, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterstadalberts

I was watching Iron man 2 and remembered my experience at the worlds fair. I was 7. IT was a wonderful experience. Thank you for the delightful gallery. I only wish it could have been kept up as a national treasure. let us know about the videos.

July 2, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterchris

I also remember going to the fair when I was 11 or 12.. I was so excited for all the "future stuff" that was there. It was so exciting for me. I remember the ATT touch tone phone dialing contest ( how I wanted a touch tone phone back then)! I remember the hats with feathers and of course the Belgian waffles. So many memories. It is a shame more of it was not preserved. Go see the fantastic movie Tomorrowland which has a recreation of the fair in the opening scene. This was a fantastic trip down memory lane. Thanks!!!

July 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBob

anybody interested in worlds fair memorabilia (518) 827-5898.

July 15, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterpeter tumminello

My husband was gifted the Ford Pavilion Worlds Fair map. It is acrylic and huge. Would love to send a picture if anyone is interested. It is pretty awesome and in great shape.

July 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarianne

For more 20th-century artifacts, and World's Fair images, the online research library ADSAUSAGE just posted:
http://www.adsausage.com/fair/

Thanks :)

July 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJ.J.

I am a former designer of 7 world' fairs. I assisted in the design of the Unisphere. I am an artist as well as a designer and have painted, in great detail, the 1939/40 World's fair which I sell prints of. Email me if you wish to see the painting.

P.S. In December, 2015, in Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Museum of Art is celebrating the designer Peter Muller Munk whose firm designed the Unisphere for U.S. Steel. I was an employee of the firm for 10 years before moving onto Montreal and Expo 67.

November 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLeonard Levitan

I was wondering what happened to the New York pavillion. I was in the Memphis Youth Concert Band in high school, a summer community band here in Memphis, and we rode the bus up to NYC and played at the NY pavillion. A great time and experience for a young kid. Thanks for the photos and the memories.

November 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJack

I was there in '64/'65 with my Mother, Father and Uncle and had a Wonderful time. Just this year (Nov. 2015), I visited Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios 50 years later for the first time and I can clearly see the start and growth of these magnificent 'entertainment venues'!

December 8, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterWorden Willis

I read recently that around the time of The 64-65 World's Fair Walt Disney even considered building his East Coast theme park in New York. Fortunately for us New Yorkers he later opted for Florida.

December 8, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher Platt

Don't know if yu have ever heard of Fred Thompson. He created the Midway Plaisance for the 1893 Columbian Exposition the first amusement park with the first Ferris Wheel. He went on to create Luna Park in New York which, after it burned down, became Coney Island. I mention him because he once proposed a theme park in Harlem to be called "The Magic Kingdom". Also, related to your post on 64/65, I helped design the Unisphere. There is an exhibition now it at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pgh. called "Silver to Steel", the story of Peter Muller Munk Associates who designed it for US Steel. I was a member of the team.

December 8, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLeonard Levitan

As Bob Hope would say Thanks for the Memories". I was 24 yrs old back then living in Brooklyn. Every SAT night I would go to the fair. I made some friends at the Japanese Pavillion and at the Hawaiian Pavillion. It was a magical time, I was "deeply in love" with two Japanese performers, Momotaro Akasaka and Midori Koiso. Never would I forget them. I was also "in love" with a Hawaiian performer named Muriel Canady. I moved away from NY right after the fair ended. Spent 2 years in Vietnam then relocated to San Antonio, TX.

I am now 75 yrs old, in the Winter of my life, but the memories of the time I was young will live with me forever. Sometimes the nostalgia for those times hit me and I spend hours looking at the pictures and re-reading the article. In my mind I get transported to a time when life was what it was meant to be. To remember is to live it again. I am very grateful, Thank you.

December 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKillerbee

Thank you so much for all your work in putting this together. I was there the second week of May 64 with my senior high school class trip from Indiana. We had a week long trip of Washington DC and New York City. We were not shortchanged with our time at the Fair as we had all day and the evening - saw the fireworks. Thanks again for the memories.

January 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Wolfe

To show you how much the times have changed, I was ten when my family went to the World's Fair. I was totally blown away by the whole thing. One of the most remarkable things that happened is that my parents let me wander around the entire place , alone. It was, "meet me at the such and such pavilion at 4 PM, see you then!".

January 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoe R.

Hello Everyone,
Let's open the 1964 & 1965 Word's Fair Time Capsules very soon because nobody will be around when the real time comes.
From,
Allan
PS. Even the 1939 World's Fair Time Capsule has to get opened up soon !

March 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAllan M. Wallin

My son is a big six flags great adventure NJ fan and noted that the sky ride is actually the original from the 64 Fair!

April 11, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEJM

I just want to say I spent one day at the worlds fair back in 1964 with my cousins, Dad and Uncle. I want to say what a thrill it was for me, being 10 at the time I remember the Uniroyal Ferris wheel and the Hall of Presidents the most. I commented to my dad when we were in the Hall of Presidents that Mr. Lincoln looked so alive, Dad told me he was a robot and I was astonished really. I have seen him since in the Disney hall of Presidents and they all still astonish me. Anyway the Worlds fair was incredible, one of the happiest days of my life. My dad is not around anymore, but the memories I cherish to this day.

May 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRoss

I grew up blocks away from the fair and when it was over spent many days there. There is a history of The Panorama on the Queens Museum website which explains about the updates. The Unisphere is my favorite structure. The park is a living history of a very special time in the history of NYC. Go visit!

May 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLon K.

My goal is to revisit the World Fair grounds and take pictures. I have not been there since my parents took us there when we were children.

May 9, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Alessi

I was fortunate enough to attend the 64 World's Fair. I have many fond memories and personal photos along with 8mm family home movies. I was 13 at the time. When 18, my mother attended the 39 World's Fair. She had some fantastic stories of her trip. Thanks for posting such a nice remembrance and current view.

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMike Clements

One of the 60 foot tall "Peace Through Understanding" arches is in Rocky Point Park in Warwick Rhode Island. Does anyone know where the others are or what happened to them?

June 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterWalter Slocomb

I worked on MIB 3 there a few years back, there is also an old artifact, I think known as Cleopatra's needle there, its not far from the Unisphere....it was a gift for the fair from Egypt, and it's about 4000 years old...why is this space not being utilized and restored..it would be such a great attraction......

June 10, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterVincent

I was 11 in 1964 also. Went again in 1965. I remember the General Motors building and the ride thru the exhibit. Also the chair lift that took you across the park.

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRoy

I was 8 in1964. We lived in Great Neck, on Long Island. Over the 2 years, we went a bunch of times. For a young, growing boy, this place was a dream come true. Wonders of science, other places, times. And, I remember Small World ride, and Carousel of Progress, the Lincoln animatronic thing, so much more. I made an injection molded blue unisphere, and remember the vending machine that made it, how hot it was when it came out. We had a color changing weather forecaster card thing we hung by the side door which showed the unisphere. I was sad to see it end. Then, years later, I learn of WDW in Orlando. What??? It's the New York Worlds Fair again!!!! I couldn't be happier to relive my childhood. I love that place, of course. Right, it is pricy, but how many times does one actually get to relive a part of childhood? Yet, when we go to the fair grounds, and see the old Science building, the Unisphere, the Observatory, etc, I still feel pangs. All good. See you at WDW!!!!

June 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRoss

This post is amazing! My boyfriend and I visited the site this July 4th weekend and the fountains at the unisphere were at full blast. We came across some water fountains that were working, and overall the park was being used by lots of people who enjoyed running through the unisphere and walking around the NY Pavilion. We made great use of this blog post, showing some of the photos to people passing by as we were looking at all the world's fair remains.

Fyi, I got a pretty good photo of the elevator through the gap in the gate if you want it. Also some nice shots of the unisphere in the summer with the water fountains on.

Again, thanks for this post, it really made our trip enjoyable to have all this history to look back on.

July 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterStacy

What a shame that more was not saved and archived.
The Shame is that Traditionally World's Fair's did not turn profits but for those of us that have experienced one they create anchors in time as they try to boast of the Science/Technology of the time and to attempt to peak forward with an optimistic view of what will be possible by the "Next" Worlds Fair..
I lived almost walking distance to the fair and during the two summers the Dad's from our apartment building would take whatever kids wanted to go to the fair.
I was 8 when the fair opened in 1964, Television was still promising to teach my generation because the Museums of the world could be brought to our living rooms.
There were TV monitors on posts everywhere in the park.
Imagine my shock when the video of my little sister was playing on TV showing her and others in the lost children pavilion.
These stories and experiences of the 1964 World's Fair will die with us Baby Boomers.
I was 8 when it opened and I will be 60 this September.

July 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterFred Richards

My husband and I went to the Worlds Fair in 1974. I had never been to NYC. We lived in Ponca City, Oklahoma at that time. Our four little children stayed in Ponca City with their grandmother. I now live in Texas.
I was overwhelmed with seeing the Pieta from the elevated walkway. So beautiful, so spiritual. Thank you Michelangelo!

August 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAlice Glore Napier

I attended the 64-65 NY World's Fair as a very young kid with my mom. I grew up in NJ, a short trip on a few busses and we were there. It's been years since I thought about it so I decided to google it and found your piece. I'd hoped that the Park had been turned into something permanent. It makes me very sad that the whole thing was left to rot once the Fair closed down. What a waste! The thing I remember most fondly was meeting people from all over the world. A great idea, but I wonder if terrorists would make it impossible today.

September 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterXenaBard

Imagine my shock when the video of my little sister was playing on TV showing her and others in the lost children pavilion.
These stories and experiences of the 1964 World's Fair will die with us Baby Boomers.

November 23, 2016 | Unregistered Commentern songs

I attended the 1964-65 NYWF with my family in the summer of 1965. It is a day that I will never forget! It was a truly magical place and experience. How I wish I could go back in a time machine and relive that great fair once again! Even though I was only 7 years old at the time, I still recall the futuristic theme and the excitement that America shared for our future. I remember there was a display (not sure which one) that showed a futuristic car that could fly. I also recall my dad riding on the Monorail (I think that I was too frightened of heights to ride on it with him). I also remember going on the "It's a Small World" ride (something my Mom insisted on doing) and hearing the words "It's a small world after all" being sung. My most vivid memory is visiting the awesome Sinclair Dinoland and then afterwards getting a wax green Brontosaurus from the Mold-A-Rama injection mold machine located just outside the Dinoland walls. America has lost so much of its innocence, culture, and class since 1964. I feel a bit melancholy just reminiscing about those beautiful days gone forever. Maybe the Lord will allow true believers in Jesus Christ to relive those happy experiences when we get to Heaven.

December 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam J. Rutecki

I Remember going to the fair with my Mom and Dad I think in 64. And then again maybe it was 65. I was 7 or 8 years old. I think my sister was there too. One thing I remember for sure was that we were all dressed in nice clothes and I bugged my Dad to let me get a dinosaur from an injection molding machine that actually made the dinosaur from raw plastic right in front of your eyes. I remember the smell of the hot plastic when it came out. I wish I would have kept that dinosaur. I remember riding in a ride that took you through the home of the future. It was a cool day for a small young boy.

January 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRCS

I remember visiting the Fair as a 7 year old child in 1964. It was amazing to experience in person. I remember going to one of the many places to eat lunch and we found an old fashion (for now) Brownie camera some had left at the table. My grandfather found a policeman hoping he could eventually get it back to its rightful owner. The officer took my grandfather's name and address. After 30 days the camera showed up at our house. Nobody had claimed it. I lived in Queens for 16 years and passed the Fairgrounds thousands of times while traveling on the Grand Central Parkway but never visited the park again. Viewing this blog makes me wish i did. Thanks for the memories

February 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterFrank Racaniello

I was just telling a co-worker about the Dinosaur mold that William J. Rutecki and RCS were talking about. The warmth and smell is still pretty vivid in my mind. I wish I had held onto my green brontosaurus. I still have a coin from there but that and my memories are all that is left.

February 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDon S

Thank you. Could you email this article to me? My Grandmother took me to the 64 World's Fair!! I was 12. I have a all tray and I have wonderful memories but I don't have photos. I love this article! So much information and photos.
We took a train from Ohio and arrived in New York. It was a full trip including the fair, a trip to the Whitehouse tour, President Kennedys eternal flame... wonderful, sad memories.

March 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarcy OBrien

This is a great post. They should restore the pavilion. I have fond memories of visiting the fair as a kid and of passing the sphere on the way to NYC. It's a shame about the fountains. I found it while doing some planning for my next trip to NY. Thanks for answering my question about whether any of this was still standing.
Katie

March 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

Thank You For The Look Back, I Was There Every Weekend Both Seasons

April 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteven J Rivera

I remember going to the 1965 worlds fair...I was 6 years old, it was an amazing experience. We didn't go on a lot of family outings as money was tight....but no one in NY missed this. For years later I remember seeing the huge globe & it always reminded me of the experience,

June 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNickinurse

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