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.