Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Things I wish I had seen in person - Part 3

1933-1934 Century of Progress

This view was taken looking to the south from the roof of the Sears Roebuck Building. Two cars of the aerial sky ride can be seen near the top. I think I would have enjoyed looking at them from this angle, but taking a ride? Well, I'll have to think about that one.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Things I wish I had seen in person - Part 2

The Times of Fate and Man
by Paul Manship
1939-1940 New York World's Fair

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Things I wish I had seen in person - Part 1

The "Tower of the Sun" was the theme structure for the 1939-1940 Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco. The elegant structure was designed by Arthur Brown, Jr., who was also responsible for the San Francisco City Hall and the Court of Horticulture at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What makes fairs special - Part 5

I like monorails, ever since my first ride on the 1964 system. It seemed to be a perfect way to route trains through crowded areas without the expense and problems associated with building massive concrete roadways.

Just about every fair since then has had a monorail. I keep hoping that cities will see the benefits of monorails, but until they do, at least I can look forward to riding them at fairs.

Monday, December 21, 2009

What makes fairs special - Part 4

Fairs are fun. No doubt about that. Part of the fun is taking home part of the fair. Lots of merchants and companies look at the fairs as a potential marketing bonanza, turning out a seemingly endless mountain of souvenirs.

Some are tacky, some are silly, but they're a great way to hold a piece of a fair in your hands decades after the gates closed forever.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What makes fairs special - Part 3

Another thing I enjoy about world's fairs is the food. Some fairs have had very well known and well remembered treats like the Belgian Waffles seen here in 1964. Other fairs may not have had a breakout menu offering, but they're still fun to go to and tempt the taste buds.

After all, it takes a lot of energy to walk the grounds of these events, so we're entitled to induge a bit, aren't we? Have a hot dog, or pizza, some soda, ice cream, popcorn, candy, or other such diet destroying fun. You deserve it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What makes fairs special - Part 2

Another thing I really enjoy about world's fairs is meeting the people who are working there or traveled distances to attend. I have very vivid memories of talking to a hostesses at the UAR Pavilion at the 1964 NY fair. It was really interesting to hear her thoughts on what it was like to be in the US, and how things were back home. I had never been out of the country except for a day in Canada, so this was a real unique experience. I've traveled a lot since then but that day has stuck with me.

Here's a view of two hostesses at the Germany pavilion at Expo 67. I bet they enjoyed their time in Montreal - such a great city - but I wonder how they felt then or now about those hats...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What makes fairs special - Part 1

I was recently interviewed by a Vancouver radio station about my book on Expo 86 and was asked what makes these events so special. The first thing that came to mind was the architecture, for fairs provide a rare opportunity to go wild with fanciful building designs. I remember being just amazed at the odd shapes at my first fair, the 1964-1965 New York one, and the same feeling of wonder has hit me at all of the fairs I've been at since.

Here's a view of the Germany pavilion at Expo 67, for example. You're just not going to find something like this anywhere else!

Monday, December 14, 2009

How's this for a map?

Yesterday I posted a picture of the Tent of Tomorrow from the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. The tent is famous for containing a giant map of New York State on the floor. I believe that was the largest map ever created, at least up to that point. An earlier fair also had a giant map, though. This view is of a 3D map of Belgium as seen at Expo 58. It would be interesting to know if any pieces of it still survive.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Tent of Tomorrow as seen in the past

Looking at the derelict hulk of the New York State Pavilion as it stands rotting away in Queens today, it's hard to remember it as it once looked. All of the multi-colored panels were removed years ago as a safety hazard, leaving behind only the rusting cables that once held them in place. The city is looking at ways to preserve the building - or demolish it, depending on who you listen to - so I guess there's a glimmer of hope, small as it is, that someday we can see the tent look this way again in the future.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The monorail that wasn't

Here's an artist's rendition of a monorail station that was planned for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair but never built.

Sharp-eyed readers may note that the monorail cars sat above the beam and not below it like the AMF system that was actually at the Fair. That's because this version was proposed by Disney as a permanent system to run through the park once the Fair was over.

You can read more about it and download a copy of the Disney proposal document on my website at http://www.worldsfairphotos.com/nywf64/disneyland-alweg.htm

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Where did we park?

(Click on it - and all of the photos - for a larger view)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Yet another McDonald's

Yesterday I posted a picture of the floating McDonald's built just for Expo 86. The fair also featured several land-based McDonald's. Here's the one in the Red Zone. One of the fair's two sky rides is passing overhead. It looks like it was a beautiful day in Vancouver!

Friday, December 4, 2009

You deserve a break today

McDonald's was the official hamburger vendor at Expo 86, paying a substantial fee for the honor. here were outlets scattered across the site, with the most unusual one being this floating one. Dubbed McBarge, a decidedly unofficial name, it was designed to so it could be towed to another location after Expo closed.

Nothing ever became of these plans, though, and the former restaurant still sits rusting away not far from where it once was at Expo.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Here's the cover of my new book on Expo 86. It's my 5th book for Arcadia Publishing on world's fairs. It was a lot of fun putting it together, as Expo 86 was a wonderful event and full of life and energy. It's hard to believe it was that long ago...

The book is available from the major online retailers, from Arcadia, and will be added to my site www.worldsfairphotos.com as soon as my re-sale copies arrive. I actually just got my first copy in today, so it was fun to finally hold it in my hands!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Let's visit Expo 86

My new book on Expo 86 is now available, so I thought I would celebrate for a few days with some looks back at the fair.

This imaginative sculpture was titled "Transcending the Traffic." I used a different image of it in the book, but the description from the text still fits here:

"The Land Plaza also featured “Transcending the Traffic,” a large and colourful sculpture that stretched above the other exhibits. Created by William Lishman, the 26-metre-tall collection of 55 figures morphed from vehicles near the ground into humans riding animals, and then finally changed to human figures near the top. The figures are now on display at Lishman’s home in Purple Hill, Ontario."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I liked it better then

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, right?

Here's two views of Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The AMF Monorail station for the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair.

Which do you prefer?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

All routes lead to the Fair

Sometimes you come across a souvenir that is really different from the rest. It doesn't have to be expensive, or anything the rest of the world will want. This is one of them. It's a paper placemat, the type used in thousands of diners and restaurants across the country. It's a great promo piece for the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair, and one that I'm glad I came across. I love the image, plus the fact that someone thought enough of it to take it home and keep it in good shape for 40+ years.

Friday, November 27, 2009

How about a Pepsi for a change?

After several days of Coke images I thought it only fair to take a look at Pepsi instead. They didn't seem to have much of a presence at the 1949 Fair, but they were a big hit at the 1964 version. That's where they sponsored Disney's "it's a small world", completely overshadowing the all but forgotten Coca Cola exhibit.

This view of some of the Disney characters is at the base of the Tower of the Four Winds, with the Pepsi VIP lounge just behind them,.

I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke - Part 4

Another great Coca-Cola advertising event at the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair. Here we see a group of hostesses at the Swift pavilion, all holding a Coke as they stand in front of the sandwiches sold there.

Look at those uniforms! They look like a group of nurses and not the staff of a fast food concession. How things have changed...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke - Part 3

This may be my favorite of the Coke shots at the 1939-40 New York World's Fair. Grandpa looks like he's more interested in his paper (maybe a racing form?) but the woman and girl are sure enjoying their Cokes! And who can blame them as they rest their feet and get ready for more fun at the fair?

Monday, November 23, 2009

I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke - Part 2

Coca-Cola used the 1939-40 New York World's Fair to help promote the brand with a publicity campaign that featured shots of fair visitors and workers enjoying an ice cold beverage. Even if the product name wasn't visible, the distinctive shape of the bottle made it clear what they were drinking.

I'm not sure who these cowboys were, but they took time out from their riding, roping, or singing long enough to pose for one of the Coke photographers. I'm glad they did!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I'd like to buy the world a Coke - Part 1

Coca-Cola and world's fairs have a long history together. After a hot day at the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair, for example, thirsty patrons could have stopped for a refreshing drink at this Coke counter, one of many scattered across the site.

It certainly wasn't elegant, and unlike what you would find today, it didn't sell much other than a cup of Coke. Can't beat that price though!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Weddings at World's Fairs?

Here's a view of a couple tying the knot on the Parachute Jump at the 1939-40 New York World's Fair. Weddings were first performed as a publicity stunt, but it appears that regular visitors could arrange to have their wedding held in the air as well.

Anyone know of any wedding ceremonies held at other fairs? I can't recall coming across any view from any other than this one, but I would imagine there has to have been some.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I hope this survived somewhere

Here's a view looking inside the main entrance of he Republic of China Pavilion at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. This unusual shot has a great view of the beautiful phoenix wall panel inside the entrance.

Other smaller pieces of the building have shown up from time to time, so here's hoping that somewhere there's a Chinese restaurant or some other place providing a home to this panel. It would be a shame if it has been lost.

World Photo Memories (1982)

I obviously enjoy photos from world's fairs. This view from the 1982 Knoxville World's Fair shows that one of the vendors hoped others shared that interest as well. This booth was set up at the end of sky ride, capturing views of the riders. The results were posted up on the side of the booth, where guests could try to find themselves. Today this is all done electronically, of course, and the selections are done on monitors.
I wonder how many they sold, and how many are still around today.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Things are looking up

If you're under the Atomium, that is. I liked this angle of the theme structure from Expo 58. I wasn't lucky enough to have gone to Expo 58, but I can only imagine how marvelous this must have looked to fair visitors. Structures like this really impress me as they were done without the computer tools commonly used today. Coming just a decade after the end of World War II all of Expo 58 must have seemed like a real wonderland.

Friday, November 13, 2009

What happens when the tour guide gets lost?

I was going through some pictures of the 1939-40 New York World's Fair and came across this one of a Greyhound tram full of passengers. Looking closer, though, at the driver makes it look like he is lost and trying to retrace his route.

"I should have made that left turn in Albuquerque."

Or, perhaps, he was leading a game to pass the time until departure and the one lady in the first row didn't hear him say "Simon says put your hand on your chin". Everyone else seems to have gotten the message though.

OK, some silly thoughts, but still a nice picture of the Fair.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The end of the 1984 New Orleans World's Fair

This isn't thegreatest of photos, but it's a view of the closing ceremonies for the 1984 New Orleans World's Fair. Following a tumultuous season, it closed forever on November 12, 1984 - 25 years ago yesterday.

I guess it's sort of fitting that I had missed the actual anniversary of the closing, as the fair seems to have been all but overlooked on its silver anniversary. There wasn't much in the way of press coverage, and plans to place a marker on the site apparently fell through. The most visible remembrance of the fair was the return of the King Triton figure (or most of him, anyway) from the former Bridge Gate entrance to a vacant plot near the Convention Center.

R.I.P., poor fair, the last held in the United States.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Souvenir letters from Expo 85

My son is a senior in high school, and we were all a bit surprised when a letter showed up in the mail the other day addressed to him in a childish scrawl - especially as it looked like his old handwriting. It turns out that his sixth grade teacher had all of the kids write themselves a letter back then and had held them until now for mailing. It was a great idea, giving the kids a look at how they predicted they would be doing in high school.

Visitors to Expo 85 in Tskuba, Japan could do the same thing. Letters placed in this special mailbox were to be held until 2001 for mailing. I wonder how many letters actually got to where they were supposed to go, given that people often move within a sixteen year stretch. I also wonder how they dealt with the rise in postage rates. If anyone has seen one of these letters surface after the fair please let me know.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Kodak at the 1982 World's Fair

World's fairs are great opportunities for photographers. There are unusual buildings, colorful parades, entertaining shows, international costumes and more. Some photographers will take their time to search for the perfect shot, while others will race across the fair site as quickly as they can. Luckily those in a hurry could get help from Kodak at some fairs, including the 1982 Knoxville World's Fair.

An official sponsor of the fair, Kodak had a number of signs like this one scattered around the grounds. The sign provided some suggestions on how to compose the best shots in that area, even listing the time of the daily parade, as well as a sample photo to help get things started. While the signs were undoubtedly helpful, they may explain why so many of the same views show up in collections.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Expo 70's Tower of the Sun

Some fairs come and go, barely leaving a trace that they once existed. Go to New Orleans, for example, and try to find remnants of the 1984 World's Fair. Good luck. Some fairs leave famous structures, such as the Space Needle or Unisphere. The site of Osaka's Expo 70 is marked with the Tower of Sun, the fair's theme symbol.

Here's how the giant statue looked during Expo. It was surrounded by a massive plaza that was topped by a large roof.

After the fair ended most of the complex was removed, leaving the Tower of the Sun standing by itself in a grassy park.

The poor guy looks lonely, so make sure to visit him if you're in the area. You can see some other legacies of Expo 70 as well.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Making things vanish

A few days ago I mentioned how hard it can be to get a picture of some pavilions without people getting in the way. Sometimes you come across a vintage picture which is fine except the original photographer was intent on capturing a family member in the shot, or perhaps someone was walking through the scene just as the camera clicked. Happily many of these pictures can be cleaned up a bit in Photoshop or other editing packages.

Here's a shot of the IBM Pavilion at the 1964 NYWF, for example. Not a bad picture, but the eye can still be drawn to the woman near the bushes, or the partial woman on the bottom left.

Well, with some work these and other distractions can be removed. I always keep the unedited versions as well, but sometimes it's just better to have less in the shot.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Don't EVER throw away your pictures!

About a year ago I was looking for some pictures for use in one of my world's fair books, but didn't have everything I needed in my own collection. I saw some very nice shots on a photo sharing site and wrote to the person who had posted them to see if I could use any in the book. He was thrilled to be asked, but it turned out the only copies he had were those small low resolution versions on the web site. After he had them scanned a few years ago he had tossed the original slides and negatives to save space. As a result the images were of too poor a quality to use and I had to continue my search.

If you have scanned any of your own pictures I'll strongly suggest that you resist the temptation to get rid of the originals. Anything could happen to the scanned image, and you might have a need to rescan the original. Another thing to consider is that as technology improves you can often get better scans.

I started scanning pictures on a flatbed scanner, and I think that was at around 300 DPI. That was suitable for web use but not much more. I was then thrilled to get a HP Photosmart S20 scanner, stepping up to 2400 DPI. That seemed fine until I saw the Nikon Coolscan IV with 2900 DPI and Digital ICE. Time to rescan the pictures I had already done!

Then along came the Nikon Coolscan V with 4000 DPI, as well as improved software for color correction... The re-scan saga continues.

It's worth it, though. Here's an older scan done in 2002 with the first Nikon scanner. The subject is the Christus statue at the Mormon Pavilion at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. I picked this one as the lighting was especially bad and it was a tough slide to work with.

Here's the 2900 DPI version:

and here's the new 4000 DPI version:

See why I say never throw your originals away?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A quiet night at the Fair

It's often hard to get good photographs of pavilions at the fairs due to people getting in the way. The best time is usually early in the morning or late at night when the crowds are thinner. That's the case in this view of the Festival of Gas Pavilion taken at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. The date was May 5, 1965. The slow film speeds of the time made it hard to get good night shots, but the bright lighting of the overhead canopy worked well here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Great Hall at Expo 86

Expo 86 was a world's fair in two parts. Most of the pavilions were located on the main site along the shores of False Creek, but the host nation had its pavilion quite a distance away. The Canada Pavilion was designed to serve as a convention center and cruise ship terminal after the fair ended, making it necessary to split if from the rest of Expo in order to secure funding. The two sites were linked by the new SkyTrain system, making it relatively easy for visitors to travel between the two.

Here's a view inside the Great Hall, the main exhibit area at the Canada Pavilion. In the center was a Haida Indian war canoe on loan from the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Take me out to Freedomland

"Mommy, daddy, take my hand
take me out to Freedomland"

Growing up in the New York City area in the early 1960s you couldn't help but hear that slogan on radio and television advertisements. Freedomland was a short-lived theme park in the Bronx. It was a lot of fun to visit, but competition from the 1964-1965 NYF proved to be too much for it, combined with higher than expected operating costs. Freedomland is completely gone now, covered the by the hulking monstrosity called Co-op City.

Here's a view of Freedomland's resident undertaker, Digger O'Toole, surveying the results of a shootout in front of the Western Saloon and Opera House.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Greyhound at the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair

Yesterday I posted a view of a Greyhound Escorter from the 1964-1965 NYWF. Greyhound has had a presence at a number of Fairs, including the 1933-1934 Century of Progress in Chicago. Here's a shot of some entranced guests enjoying their ride on a Greyhound tour bus at the 1939-1940 NYWF: Click on it for a larger view - some of the signs are pretty interesting!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Greyhound Escorters after the Fair

Fans of the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair will probably remember the Greyhound Escorters. Sort of a motorized rickshaw, the Escorters had a driver in the back and room for up to four passengers in the front. The driver was also a tour guide, taking guests on personalized tours of the Fair.

The Escorters only were used for the first year of the Fair. They were expensive to rent and prone to breakdowns, so they were quietly retired from service without any fanfare. That wasn't the end of the Escorters, though, for they were later spotted giving tours of the boardwalk in Atlantic City, NJ.

The Greyhound name on the front was crudely covered over, but even so there was no mistaking that these were indeed the same vehicles as seen at the Fair.

I believe this picture was taken in 1971. I'm not sure how many of the Escorters made it to Atlantic City or when they were finally retired. At least one is in private hands undergoing restoration.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Tower of the Four Winds

One of the more memorable exhibits at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair was '"it's a small world" (the lower case selling is indeed correct), created by Walt Disney and sponsored by Pepsi Cola. As everyone who rode it and still has the song stuck in their heads knows, the ride was later moved to Disneyland and is still there today. Newer versions are in all of the other Disney parks as well.

What no one knows is whatever became of the Tower of the Four Winds, which stood in front of the main pavilion building. Designed to withstand hurricane force winds, the tower was quite a construction job. After the Fair it vanished, and no one seems to know if it was sold for scrap or, as rumored, dumped in a nearby river to save the cost of hauling it away. I doubt that's the case, given the value of scrap metal, but I don't believe any parts of it have ever surfaced.

This first view helps show how long the lines were for the ride. Under the tower itself was a VIP lounge, and under that a counter answering questions about UNICEF.

Here's another view. The tower was quite a sight on a breezy day, with parts spinning all over the place.

Expo 74 Souvenirs - and on sale!

Part of the fun in going to a world's fair is bringing home a big bag (or more) of souvenirs. Most fair fans will have brochures, postcards, figurines or other collectibles safely stashed away from their trips.

This shot of the souvenir stands at Expo 74 in Spokane was taken on October 29, 1974 as the fair was nearing its final days. Sale signs were everywhere, but there was still a lot to buy. I bet fans would like to be able to buy any of these items at those prices today!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The USSR Pavilion at Expo 58

I was never at Expo 58, as I was all of six years old at the time. My aunt did go, though, and later gave me her guide book, pictures and an 8mm film she took. She never quite figured out how to hold the camera, and many of her shots show her thumb blocking the shot. We have movies of her thumb at a bull fight, her thumb in Rome, etc. I was really impressed with those films, though, as they were my first look at a world's fair. I've also had a special fondness for Expo 58 since then.

Here's a view of the interior of the USSR Pavilion. The Cold War was well under way and the USA and USSR were both determined to out do each other. I have to say that this was one impressive looking pavilion indeed.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

More on Seymour

Here's another shot of Seymour D. Fair, leading a small parade through the Fulton Street Market section of the 1984 New Orleans World's Fair. He's riding in some sort of Chrysler convertible, due in large part, I suspect, to the fact that Chrysler was the only one of the US auto companies exhibiting at the Fair. Anyone know what model this was?