Did You Go To The New York World’s Fair?

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The New York World’s Fair, in Flushing Meadows, NY, was themed, “Peace Through Understanding.” It ran for two six-month seasons, from April 22 through October 18, 1964 and April 21 through October 17, 1965, so technically, we’re about to celebrate the second season’s fiftieth anniversary in two days. Adult admission was $2.00 in 1964 and $2.50 in 1965. I attended twice … once with my family, and once during my high school’s senior class trip. More than 51 million others visited the fair, but that was less than the 70 million visitors that were anticipated, and the fair lost significant money.

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The extremely optimistic and positively oriented New York World’s Fair was the second (along with the 1939/1940 fair) area event to not be officially sanctioned by the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE). The BIE had previously sanctioned Seattle’s World’s Fair that had happened only two years before. Without the BIE sanction, many nations, including Canada, Australia and most of the major European nations, were absent. Smaller countries, like Spain, Japan, Mexico, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Thailand, Philippines, Greece, Pakistan and Vatican City were present. The Vatican exhibited Michelangelo’s Pieta (465 years old in 1964). That display became one of the fair’s most popular exhibits. America showed off its culture and technology, especially space-age items.

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Notable American corporate exhibits General Electric’s “Progressland,” Pepsi Cola’s “It’s a Small World – A Salute to UNICEF,” developed by Disney Studios, Chrysler’s “Pop Art Pavilion,” and Ford Motor Company’s “Ford’s Magic Skyway.” Ford’s pavilion was the second most popular exhibit at the fair. It featured fifty convertible Ford vehicles on a “people mover” ride through scenes including dinosaurs and cavemen. The “Small World” exhibit is still featured in Disney parks throughout the world.

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There were one hundred twelve restaurants in the fairgrounds that featured international cuisine. Three of the best were in the Spanish pavilion. The Belgium pavilion introduced its “Bel-Gem” waffle, a flat, fluffy waffle piled high with strawberries and whipped cream.

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The New York World’s Fair finally closed in October 1975, almost at the same time as the turbulence of the Vietnam War, civil rights turmoil and significant cultural changes were happening in America. If you were there, you were lucky, and you’ll never forget it.

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11 thoughts on “Did You Go To The New York World’s Fair?

  1. My eye school band had the honor of playing at the 1964 World’s Fair. However, 51 years later I do not remember what we played. I remember it was a lovely Spring day and after the concert we are those Bel-Gem waffles and then went on some of the rides. The order was somewhat ill advised…


  2. I did attend. Which year, I do not remember. One thing I do remember was some scamp put a whole box of laundry detergent into one of the fountains. There were these “clouds” of suds gently floating about five to ten feet off the ground down wind of the fountain. Strange, but cool looking.


  3. I remember the crowds more than the exhibits. It was my first time to NYC and it was a beautiful day. Do they still have World Fairs?

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  4. As you may remember, we piled in a bus with our senior cassmates—our friend Judi in the back —spent the day in the most amazing place I had ever imagined. Most of the time, I was so overwhelmed by all the possibilities and the crowds that I didn’t know what to look at first, or second or third. I spent a ot of time just wondering around thinking of the very smal world in which I had been living.


  5. I was to the worlds fair remember its a small world . Have some pics . Havent looked at them for ages. Thanks for jarring my memory.  I think it was when Iived in philly and we stayed overnight. You really have my mind whirling now

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  6. Our senior class from Bellefonte, PA, was lucky enough to have our senior trip to NYC and the world’s fair instead of the then standard trip to Washington. At that time, most of us found it notable because the drinking age in New York was 18, and our hotel was just down the street from the Peppermint Lounge, featuring Joey Dee and the Starlighters doing the Peppermint Twist. Our day at the fair was pretty impressive, though, and I wish I’d paid more attention. What I remember most was Michelangelo’s Pieta.


  7. Went with the girl scouts and others including my little sister…first trip to a BIG city and remember all that you mentioned above…however my greatest? Memory is breaking down in Beanie Meyer’s bus on the way home in the middle of the night, transferring to another bus, getting back to Danville near daybreak to a lot of frantic parents.


  8. My father was a Commercial Artist in Hartford,CT. He designed the 3 fold pamphlet for the World’s Fair Amusement Area that was printed & handed out. We went at least twice since much of his print work was done in NYC..I remember seeing the Pietta.


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