World Fair Silence

New_York_Worlds_Fairgrounds

buzzard[1]Before I delve into the crux of the title, I would like to reminisce just a tad.  This year is a special anniversary for me.  It is the 50th anniversary of the only World’s Fair I ever attended, the New York World’s Fair.  In the summer of 1964, my parents, my uncle, and my brother traveled from Connecticut to Flushing Meadows, New York, where the fair had begun.  I was only 13 years old, but I still remember the hype that ensued by the marketing of the event.

Looking back to those days, have brought back some memories, vague as they are so long after experiencing it at that young age. We rode in my dad’s 1957 Ford Fairlane (he always kept a car for 10 years).  The Merritt Parkway was the artery that we traveled to the New York State, and I remember how we pulled over at a roadside rest stop where we ate an early lunch sitting at picnic tables.  Sometimes I have to chuckle when my mom expressed how some of the other women rest stop ladies room were circumventing using the bathroom stalls, because it cost a dime to use it.  As one was finished, the next one would grab the door to save a dime.  Now that’s an odd memory.

When we finally arrived, we routinely took pictures with a Kodak camera.  I still have a few, but they never just showed the pavilions, just the family standing in front of a few.  My mom bought a few postcards, an ashtray, and for me, a suspended flattened unisphere showing the day of the month that advanced each time you flipped it.  Though we visited as many pavilions as we could, the most heartfelt one was seeing the magnificent Michaelangelo Buonarroti’s “Pieta”, on loan from the Vatican.  It was the highlight of my visit.

 Pieta

This fair showed us a remarkable view of technology for the times to come.  At the Ford Pavilion we observed the first Ford Mustang.  We experienced a preview of Disney’s Audio-Animatronics at several of the pavilions.  At the Carousel of Progress by GE, we rode and viewed man’s progress from the past to the future.  NASA brought a Saturn Boat Tail rocket engine for the Apollo missions and even displayed the Lunar LEM slated for the moon years later (during the second summer of the fair’s continuance in 1965).  I visited the fair that year as well.

Ironically, a model of the Twin Towers for New York was exhibited which many scoffed at its’ future construction, never imagining the later destruction of it in our time.  At the Pepsi Pavilion, Disney’s “It’s a Small World” was first introduced.  There were two important introductions of scientific innovation.  The first was the Color TV throughout the fairgrounds and the “Picturephone” that was the precursor to today’s computer and SKYPE program.  The IBM corporation presented some other computer technology.  It was illuminating to say the least.

 parkunisphere

If you look at the Unisphere In the photo, you can see the 3 rings around it.  They represented three important occasions; America’s first astronaut orbit, Russia’s first cosmonaut orbit, and the first orbiting communications satellite.  You might also recognize the towers behind it (for you younger folks) as part of the “Men In Black” movie.

But now digressing from my youthful revelations, you need to ask yourself when was the last time you have heard about a world’s fair taking place.  Consequently the term “World’s Fair” is synonymous with “Exposition”.  Many have taken place since 1853 and many have never occurred due to circumstances happening at the time of its scheduled appearance.  These “Expos” are still appearing presently and in the future.  There is a complete listing of all the Expos that had taken place and where if you search the internet.

The official theme of this fair was, “Peace Through Understanding” dedicated to “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe”.  The obvious reason for the Unisphere structure built on the fairgrounds.  There was much controversy concerning this fair.  The BIE (Bureau of International Expositions) did not sanction the fair in New York.  Their charter only allowed an exposition to take place once every 10 years per country, and the last one was in Seattle, Washington in 1962.  The BIE also was upset about the fact that a fair was to have only one six-month period not two.

The fair was doomed for bankruptcy.  The organizers used advanced ticket sales from the 1964 and 1965 to fund the 1965 fair to save it.  The fair focused on corporations and many countries did not participate.  They estimated that at least 70 million visitors was needed to make a profit, but only 60+ million showed, barely making it through the second season.

There is some ambiguity about whether the US will host a future world’s fair.  Some want to have one, but the government won’t allow the sanction of, or funding for one presently.  You may want to know where the next expo will take place.  It will take place in an area just north of the city of Milan, Italy in 2015, with over 200 acres destined for its’ showing.

Today, some of the structures of the New York Fair went into disrepair and was eventually demolished.  The rest remains as a reminder to our past of a World’s Fair that some of us still remember.  I can only be astonished at the predictions of the technology at the fair, and I have lived to see these amazing possibilities come to fruition.  And that, my friends and fellow readers, was worth experiencing.

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