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Remnants of the 1964 NY World’s Fair

September 5, 2007

While at the US Open, I took a little time to walk around Flushing Meadows Park, the site of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs. It was very impressive walking along the pathways and seeing the immense steel globe rising up from plumes of water.

The 1964 fair was the largest World’s Fair to be held in the United States, occupying nearly a square mile (2.6 km²) of land. Hailing itself as a “Universal and International” exposition, the Fair’s theme was “Peace Through Understanding,” dedicated to “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe.” The theme was symbolized by a twelve-story high, stainless-steel model of the earth called Unisphere. The Fair is best remembered as a showcase of mid-twentieth century American corporate culture. The nascent Space Age, with its vista of promise was well-covered by the exhibits.

When I got closer to the fountain, it became apparent that it was in moderate disrepair. Not nearly as bad as the Observation Towers which were part of the New York Pavilion. The structures were very rusted. One of the “Sky Streak Capsules”, as the elevators were called, was frozen mid way up the tower. The Pavilion has since been sealed off.

Walking around the rest of the grounds, I came across a statue which I later learned is called the Rocket Thrower. The fountains in front of the statue were empty, except for the skateboarders and roller skaters.

In a way it is ironic that 40 years ago the the future was seen with unabashed optimism. The dawn of a perfect era in which technology would ease man’s burden. The rusty, dilapidated relics mirror the changes in society that never approached this ideal, with the future looking more like it will be closer to a Mad Max movie.

To see photos from my walk click here

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