Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Guess who came to dinner?

Here's a shot of former president Herbert Hoover at a formal dinner at the Belgium Pavilion during the 1939-40 New York World's Fair. If anyone can identify the man in the tux with him please let me know. He reminds me of someone, but who?

Click on the photo for a larger view.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The bar at the Belgium Pavilion, 1939-40 New York World's Fair

The Belgium Pavilion had a wonderful location overlooking the Lagoon of Nations. The designers took advantage of this by incorporating floor to ceiling windows in the cocktail lounge.

Think how great it must have been to enjoy the fountains and fireworks with a cool drink after a nice meal. I'm sure it must have been a popular place each evening. This shot was taken by a member of the pavilion staff before opening.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

More from the Belgium Pavilion restaurant

Here's another view of the restaurant at the Belgium Pavilion from the 1939-40 New York World's Fair.

It looks like they had quite a staff on hand, doesn't it? This is actually only part of the crew as I have other shots of different waiters, bartenders, etc. It would be interesting to know how many patrons the restaurant could seat and how large the staff was.

I would love to find a menu from the place as well. I'm willing to bet they served some fine meals there indeed.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

1939-40 New York World's Fair - Belgium Pavilion #2

This is the main dining room for the restaurant at the Belgium Pavilion. Many of the foreign pavilions went all out to showcase their cuisine, and Belgium was no exception. I would imagine that dining here would have been quite an experience. I'll be adding more shots of the restaurat and its outdoor dining area soon.

If anyone has any information on who did these beautiful murals, and what became of them after the fair ended, please let me know.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

1939-40 New York World's Fair - Belgium Pavilion #1

While most of the 1939-40 New York World's Fair has long been lost to the passage of time, the former Belgium Pavilion is still with us. The building is now part of Virginia Union University. I thought it might be fun to take a look at the pavilion during the fair, especially as it was one of the larger and more elegant foreign pavilions.

The awning on the taller part of the building shades the windows of the pavilion's restaurant. There was also an outdoor seating area on the balcony just below the awning. We'll be visiting both of those sections of the pavilion, and others, in the days to come.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Disneyland of long, long ago

After all of the pictures of the General Electric Pavilion from the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair I thought it was time for something different. In fact, I thought I would stray outside the realm of world's fairs for a visit to Disneyland. It was my visits to the Fair that led me to work for Disney, so why not follow the link?

I'm restoring a batch of large format slides from around 1958 or so. There are quite a few things shown that are no longer part of the Happiest Place on Earth. Here's one, for example.

This view was taken from the Mark Twain. I bet the stagecoach was a lot of fun given how popular westerns were on TV at the time. Looking at the kids sitting up top sure shows how things have changed in terms of theme park safety. Not a single seat belt anywhere in sight.

About 20 years after this was taken you could still see them remnants of the old stagecoach road in places. Disneyland was closed to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays in the off season, and I used to enjoy walking out there along the river. It was very peaceful, with flocks of ducks and geese stopping by the river. Someone had dragged a chair out there and put it under a tree so it wasn't readily visible when the park was open. It was a great spot to sit and enjoy lunch.

These slides are fun but they are a bit challenging at times. They have some scratches and mildew, but worst of all the color has really shifted. Here's a view of the same slide after cleaning but before color adjustments.

Thanks once again to the wizards behind Photoshop.

Monday, July 26, 2010

GE Brings Good Things to Life

I don't know if General Electric was using that slogan during the days of the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair, but they sure had a lot of different products that were intended to make life easier, or so said the hostesses scattered throughout Medallion City. The huge crowds that came to see the Carousel of Progress all had to pass through this area on their way out of the building, but it looks like most of them weren't sticking around when this picture was taken...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Even more General Electric! - Part 14

Here's a seldom seen portion of the General Electric Pavilion at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. This is part of Medallion City, which was what GE called its product display area. Here a pretty hostess, wearing white gloves no less, extols the virtues of GE air conditioning and other products for the home.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

General Electric - Part 13

The Nuclear Fusion demonstration basically consisted of a countdown, some indicator lights changing color, then a mighty bang and bright flash. That was it. Oh, there was one thing more. This big display showed the results of the test, counting down how many neutrons were involved, the temperature, etc. I'm still not sure what it all proved, but this was high tech stuff indeed back in the days of the Fair.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

General Electric - Part 12

There it is. The future of the world's quest for energy, at least as GE foresaw things back in 1964. Behold the mighty Nuclear Fusion Generator. Please ignore the signs of leaks, though, and please don't touch the water, well, just in case. Ever hear of "the Pepsi Syndrome"?

OK, the device itself wasn't much to look at, but when they wound it up and things went well, there was a mighty flash, a very loud bang, and more than one or two scared viewers. We'll take another look at the fusion demonstration tomorrow.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

General Electric - Part 11

Where did the last week go to?

Anyway, back to a look at the General Electric Pavilion at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. It's finally time for the Sky Dome Spectacular. The guests seen here have just seen the show, which showed the forces of lightning displayed on the inside of the pavilion's dome. The lean rails will look familiar to anyone who has been to one of the Disney Circlevision films. I wonder if the staff warned even back then that "They will not support your weight nor that of your child"?

With the film part of the show over everyone is about to head off to the ominous sounding Nuclear Fusion Demonstration...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

General Electric - Part 10

Here's another rare view of the rarely seen upper level of the General Electric Progressland pavilion at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. The winding corridors have come to an end, and when the pre-show is over, it's finally time to head towards the Sky-Dome Spectacular!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

General Electric - Part 9

The Disney touch was readily apparent at the GE pavilion, and not just at the Carousel of Progress show. Rather than just have the crowd wait in a line for the next show, there was usually a pre-show that was pretty interesting on its own. Little touches like this go a long way to improving the overall experience. When I worked for Disney they had lots of studies on file as to how long a line should be before it changed direction, for example, to help keep people from getting impatient. I bet the numbers have changed from those days, though, as we get more and more towards a society of instant gratification.

Monday, July 5, 2010

General Electric - Part 8

More from the General Electric Pavilion at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair.

Finally, the seemingly endless series of hallways brings you to the pre-show area just before the Sky-Dome Spectacular. Titled "Man's Searches for New Sources of Energy", it shows that there was indeed interest in breaking away from the dependence on oil even back in 1964. Hopefully the scientists now at GE or elsewhere will have better luck than their Fair-era counterparts.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

General Electric - Part 7

What's next? More halls, full of odd logos and designs, which presumably all have something to do with GE's many businesses. It's really hard to realize just how many things GE had its fingers in back then. Just 8 years after the Fair ended I would be working for them designing launch systems for submarine-based nuclear missiles. Although there actually was a Polaris missile on display at the Fair, it was over at the Travel & Transportation Pavilion. I don't recall GE mentioning that and other lines of the company; for the Fair the focus was pretty much on consumer goods.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

General Electric - Part 6

Let's continue with some more views of the General Electric Pavilion at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. We're finally upstairs and ready to see more about the wonders of better living through electricity. The hallway stretches off past images of GE products, old and new, leading us towards a sound that is very much like a clap of thunder. What wonders await????

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

General Electric - Part 5

After waiting your turn, it's finally time to head upstairs. You would get there on a speed ramp through this colorfully lit tunnel. A taped narration helped prepare you for the wonders the GE scientists and sales people have prepared for you.

VIPs could skip this, by the way, by exiting the theater out the back door...

Monday, June 28, 2010

General Electric - Part 4

Finally the hostess steps aside and everyone starts heading upstairs to see the Sky-Dome Spectacular, the nuclear fusion demonstration and the product displays in Medallion City. After the amazing show they just saw how will the exhibits upstairs compare?

We'll see soon!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The General Electric Pavilion - Part 3

Let's move on with a look at the rest of the General Electric Pavilion. I'll skip over the four acts of the Carousel of Progress, as most Disney or Fair fans will have memorized how those kitchens looked.

After the four scenes with Father, Mother and the ever faithful dog, the audience was carried into the final room. Here we see a snappily dressed attendant, complete with white gloves, asking everyone to stay in their seats for a moment longer. There's a lot more waiting for them, but no please, no stampeding to the exit!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Driving the Carousel of Progress

Before we head on to visit the show itself, let's take a peek at the controls for the Carousel of Progress.

Each of the six theaters had one of these stations on the left side. A colorfully dressed hostess, with white gloves no less, was stationed there to make sure everyone stayed in their seats. With the audience safely seated, she would push a button signifying that the ride could proceed. Unless all of the theaters were ready the theaters didn't rotate.

The controls also include a public address system and an intercom to the folks working outside.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

General Electric at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair

Let's spend a few days touring one of the most famous pavilions at the Fair - General Electric. Along the way we'll visit the Carousel of Progress, the Sky-Dome Spectacular, and Progressland.

You've settled into your seat in the Carousel Theater. Before you, stretching the entire width of the stage, behind the giant GE Logo, is a pulsing wall of light called the "Kaleidophonic Screen." Behind the clear-faceted squares that make up the larger panels of the screen are banks of multi-colored lights that shine out into the audience through the maze of squares.

As a full orchestration of the Carousel's Theme Song, "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow," plays in the background, the lights pulse and glow with the rise and fall of music.

Now the music changes to a carnival-like rhythm as narrator Rex Allen begins to speak. As he does, the lights of the Kaleidophonic Screen pulse in synchronization to his words.

More views to follow!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chrysler at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair

I just finished writing my book on the 1962 Seattle World's Fair and thought it was time to look at pictures of something else for a while. Let's start with a view of this signpost from the Chrysler pavilion at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. Chrysler wasn't one of my favorite shows, paling in comparison to the Ford and General Motors shows, but visually it was a real treat. The signage was really well done - lots of fun shapes and colors.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I haven't had much in the way of spare time lately as I have been busy working on my next book. This one is on Century 21, the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. The publisher just sent me the mockup for the cover, which is pictured here. The race is on to put the pages inside of it together! I'm having fun taking a look at my pictures from Seattle once again as I compile the book, so it's a fun project indeed.

I hope you like the cover and will like the book. It will be out later this year. And yes, there's a typo or two in this mockup but they've already been fixed in the real version!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More fun at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair

Here's another shot of kids enjoying themselves at Century 21. This was at Chun King, which was busy introducing Chinese food to the masses. I wonder if there are any Chung King restaurants anywhere today?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

World's Fairs are fun

Don't you think these kids would agree? Not only are they wearing buttons to mark their attendance at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, but the cotton candy looks great! This is part of what I enjoy about the fairs. The major pavilions and shows are fun, of course, but sometimes it's the simple things that make the day special.

By the way, the vending machines behind them were a big deal at the 1962 Fair. Being able to buy a meal, especially a hot one, from a machine was something new, and the Fair organizers made a big thing out of it. Personally I prefer freshly prepared food to something that has been sitting there for hours, but some people seem to prefer speed over quality. These snack bars must have been heaven to them.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Is this the tackiest World's Fair souvenir ever?

From the 1962 Seattle World's Fair we give you "Spunky, The Space Age Turtle."

The sign proudly proclaims "Take Along or Mailed Anywhere in U.S.A." and "A Living Souvenir of Century 21". I would hate to estimate the mortaility rate of the poor turtles sold to people who then carried them around the fair for the rest of the day, or who mailed them back home. Man, this has to be one of the tackiest souvenirs I've come across so far.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Another 1939 NYWF publicity photo

The United States Steel pavilion was an interesting one, for the support beams were located on the outside, not buried inside the walls. This provided a wide open space inside for the exhibits without the distraction of columns and walls. It also made for an unusual look and a great subject for photographers.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

1939-40 New York World's Fair publicity photos pt 1

I haven't posted lately due to a nasty bug that got the better of me. Hopefully I'm finally getting the better of it!

I thought I woud post a few publicity photos from the 1939 Fair in New York. This one of Sampson and the Lion is a great view of one of the many statues at the Fair. Does anyone know if it still survives?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Expo 70 Hostesses - Part 4

The hostesses at this pavilion went with a more traditional costume from back home.

Home, in case you don't read Japanese, was Bulgaria.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Expo 70 Hostesses - Part 3

These hostesses are standing outside the Telecommunications Pavilion.

I don't know who designed all of these costumes but they did a great job. They look sporty, functional, and futuristic all at the same time!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Expo 70 Hostesses - Part 2

Today's entry is a visit to the Hitachi Pavilion.

I've never been lucky enough to work at a world's fair but I bet these hostesses enjoyed their experience.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Expo 70 Hostesses - Part 1

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Expo 70, so I thought I'd start a look back with some views of the hostesses who worked at some of the pavilions.

These ladies worked at the Local Governments Pavilion, which was also known as the Autonomy Pavilion. What Space Age outfits!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Free postcards

These postcards are issued by Arcadia Publishing to help promote some of my books on world's fairs.

If you would like a copy please drop me a note. You should find my address on the blog or my website,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Souvenirs from 70 years ago

Souvenir stands are nothing new; I'm sure there were trinkets to take home at the first world's fair. Here's one I bet many of us would have love to be able to visit via the friendly time machine.

This was just one of the hundreds of places to part with your money so you coud bring home part of the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair. Let's take a closer look.

You could probably retire if you could sell everything in that picture now on eBay.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I decided to stay with the theme of souvenirs.

This booth was at Vancouver's Expo 86. There was a nice assortment of the usual items, including pennants, shirts, toys, etc. One of the best selling souvenirs of Expo 86 was the fair's masoct, Expo Ernie. The cute little robot was one of the best selling fair mascots for any exposition. He was available as a stuffed toy, key chain, on buttons, shirts and more. I don't know if they sold any robotic Ernie toys but that would have seemed like a natural fit.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More souvenir dogs

Guests at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair could also take home a large stuffed dog if they happened to be in the mood.

I would have preferred the banner under the dogs myself. One of these sold last year for a tidy sum on eBay. I'll bet it went for more than one of the dogs would have.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Where do you keep your souvenirs?

Especially when they're rather large?

I wonder how long these prizes from the 1962 Seattle World's Fair lasted once the proud winners got them home.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Les Floralies Internationales de Montreal - 1980 - Part 3

Here's the French entry for the competition.

Anyone happen to know who won?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Les Floralies Internationales de Montreal - 1980 - Part 2

Here's another view of the international floral show held on the old Expo 67 grounds back in 1980.

This one is of the Italian gardens.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Les Floralies Internationales de Montreal - 1980 - Part 1

In 1980 the former Expo 67 grounds were used for an international floral show. Many nations and companies had exhibits showcasing their local plants and typical national garden features. With many of the pavilions already torn down, there was plenty of land available, but the show was so large that more of the now decrepit buildings were pulled down as well.

Here were see some children in paddle boats as they past by the Belgium garden displays.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Unseen since 1965

When the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair closed many of the exhibitors held huge salvage sales to dispose of their parts of the Fair. A lot of it has turned up over the years, but so far no one seems to have found one of these Hertz strollers.

Let me know if anyone has any post-Fair pictures of these strollers.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

So where did the ax go?

Here's mighty Paul Bunyan standing guard over the Oregon Pavilion at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair.

Late in the 1964 season it appears someone made off with his ax.

Does anyone have a view showing Paul in 1965 to see if the ax was back?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Things I wish I had seen in person - Part 5

Here's another view of the interior of the USSR Pavilion at Expo 58.

To get an idea of how big this exhibit was, look at the scale of the people and compare them to the statue of Lenin. I believe the building was taken apart and transported back to Moscow after the fair ended; I wonder if the statue survives somewhere.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Things I wish I had seen in person - Part 4

I was too young to have made it to Expo 58, but there were several things I would have enjoyed seeing.

This is the interior of the USSR Pavilion. With the Cold War firmly underway, the USSR and USA went all out to show the merits of their political and economic systems at the fair.