Friday, April 29, 2011

Food at the Fairs - Part 3

Here's a view inside one of the Bel-Gem Waffle stands. There are waffles all over the place, but for most of the Fair, they sold out as fast as they could be made. At times it seems some guests must have been eating waffles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner - with some waffles for snacks in between. I didn't get to eat as many myself as I might have liked, due to a small cash flow situation (a waffle cost the same as another ticket back into the Fair), but they were well worth waiting for.

Imagine how sticky these women would have been after a day around all that sugar!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Food at the Fairs - Part 2

If you talk about food and the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair you can only come to one conclusion. The math is easy:

1964 World's Fair + Food = Bel-Gem Waffles

The waffles were unquestionably the food hit of the Fair. Belgium waffles had been seen earlier at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, but these were a lighter mixture that just were wonderful. As soon as word got out about them lines started forming at the first shops to carry them, like this one. Soon, it seemed that just about every place selling something to eat was also selling Belgium waffles.

Tomorrow we'll see why.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Food at the Fairs - Part 1

A big part of the fun in going to a world's fair is the food. Sure, the shows are great, but come on, admit it - a fair is a great reason to overload on junk food. Every fair I've been to has been a torture on the feet, a drain on the wallet, and a battle for the waist line.

This is one of the many Brass Rail Snack Bars that dotted the grounds of the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. The food wasn't very good - in fact, at some of them it was barely edible - but the giant inflated bubble roofs were very visible all over the place, adding greatly to the carnival like atmosphere. While I didn't have any gourmet treats at these stands I would love to be able to walk back up to one just one more time!

Check out those prices...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This Date in History - April 26, 1970

It's sometimes difficult to tell exactly when a picture was taken at a world's fair. Sure, you can usually make a good guess as to the year, as most fairs only run one year. Some have run two years, though, and then you also have to consider the 10+ year run of "Man and His World", the successor to Expo 67.

For one year fairs, a slide will often have a processing date on it. However, some people didn't send their film out for processing until far after they got home. I have a box of slides advertised on eBay for the "1966 New York World's Fair". There was no such fair, of course, but someone waited until a year after the fair had closed to get their slides developed. On other slides you may get lucky if the original owner wrote down the date. With negatives, unfortunately, you usually can't get any dates.

Happily this slide of Expo 70 was very easy to date. It shows the date on the official Expo clock, and even shows the time. It looks like April 26, 1970 was a cloudy day at the fair, at least at 9:11 AM.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tune back in tomorrow for another "This Date in History"

We'll be visiting Expo 70 in Osaka!

In the meantime here's a picture to keep things going. It was in with a bunch of negatives from the 1933-1934 Chicago World's Fair, also known as "A Century of Progress". I'm not sure if this was actually at the fair. If you do know please drop me a note.

Friday, April 22, 2011

This Date in History - April 22, 1964

April 22, 1964 was a wet and gloomy day. It was also the Opening Day of the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair! The crowd was lighter than expected due to the weather and political protests, but those that braved it were treated to a wonderful world indeed. The fair wasn't quite ready in some cases - you can see the unfinished Belgian Village on the right - but what was there was unlike anything seen before.

For more on the fair please visit and my site, We also have a very active discussion group at Stop by and say hi!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

This Date in History - April 21, 1965

The 1964-1965 New York World's Fair was just starting for the second season when this shot was taken. It's outside the Missouri Pavilion, and they're raising a flag to celebrate the 1964 World Series win by the St. Louis Cardinals. Imagine how grating that must have been to the New York crowd - especially as the Yankees had been the losing team!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

This Date in History - 1963

With a title like that this posting should offer up some famous event. Instead you get a monkey on roller skates. Well, it's free. This busy little photographer is NOT the guy behind this blog, so stop the jokes.

This was taken at the International Photo Exhibit in New York City - probably at the Coliseum - on April 20, 1963.

I wonder if the chimp is shooting digital these days?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

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

In the 1970s New York City was plagued with graffiti. If you think it's bad today, well, it was unreal then. Go check some pictures of the subway cars from that time.

Happily graffiti wasn't a major problem for the Fair. It was there, though, and shows up from time to time in pictures. Let's take a look at one example.

Here's a closer detail of the building in the lower center of the photo. It was part of the Pan American Highway Gardens.

I imagine that this would have been removed in short order to help keep the Fair looking nice for the out of town visitors. Its just a good thing they didn't hold the Fair 10 years later!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Coca-Cola Carillon

Yesterday we looked up at the bells inside the carillon tower at the Coca-Cola Pavilion at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. Today we're seeing a very different view. This keyboard was what drove the instrument. Looking at it my mind boggles on the combination of sounds they could have created with all of those different settings. That made me wonder how anyone gets started playing a carillon. It's not like you can practice with one in your garage, much to the happiness of your neighbors, I'm sure. Instead you need to find one to practice on, but can you imagine how that must sound to anyone within earshot?

I would guess most people start playing an organ before moving to a carillon, but it seems like a tough thing to learn, at least to me. Then again I reduced several music teachers to wrecks as I tried, quite badly, to play the drums, clarinet and saxophone.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The third carillon

The third carillon at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair was at the Coca-Cola Pavilion. This was a large one, as seen in the picture. I can remember hearing it play during the fair and can also remembering it seemed out of place. Bells ringing in an old Belgian Village was one thing, but somehow in the more modernistic setting of the rest of the fair they seemed out of place.

Another long day so another quick post, but we'll be back at the Coke pavilion tomorrow.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Another carillon

The carillon at the International Plaza wasn't the only one at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. In fact, there were two others. This was the largest one, located in the Belgian Village. It was visible from much of the fair grounds and for a good distance outside. The tower was built quite sturdily, and after the fair it was used in an engineering study to test building designs for earthquake safety.

The bells weren't inside during the earthquake testing, and if they were I imagine they would have made a dreadful racket. The engineers doing the testing didn't have to worry about removing the bells first, though, for someone did that for them. The night the fair closed someone cut the bells free and dropped them to the ground, carting them away to never be seen again.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Does this ring a bell?

Someone asked me for a picture of the carillon at the International Plaza at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. I don't remember seeing this in operation but it was at least fun to look at.

Short post, long day - but I finished my taxes on time...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A bad idea for a fair exhibit

This photo from the China Pavilion at the 1982 Knoxville fair captured something that has long irritated me about this and the China operation at the 1984 New Orleans fair. You're probably asking "What could be so bad in that shot?"


Almost everything in both those pavilions was for sale. Now, I know that most pavilions have gift shops, but this was different. The exhibits themselves were for sale. Think how underwhelming it must have been to realize you weren't looking a priceless artifacts from years ago, things you would have had once gone to China to see in person. Instead, there were price tags all over and signs saying "All exhibits are for sale." It wouldn't have been the same special sort of experience, would it? Anyway, that's just my opinion. And it wasn't even for sale.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

One of my favorite 1939 New York World's Fair photos

I just love this shot from the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair. I've seen a lot of pictures from that fair, but to me there's something special about it.

Here's the caption I used in my book on the fair: The fair offered some of the finest meals in the New York area, especially in the foreign pavilions. Sometimes, though, the best food experience of all was an ice cream cone. There were more than 200 snack bars and concession stands for the budget conscious, the young at heart, and those in a rush to see more of the fair.

I hope those girls enjoyed their ice cream, as well as the rest of the fair.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ever visit the Wigsphere?

"The Simpsons" has been on television for 22 years so far. To date I have seen exactly one episode, which puts me at great disadvantage in doing crossword puzzles. Ever notice how many clues from that show are used in puzzles?

Anyway, I digress. The one episode I've seen is "Bart Takes a Trip", during which he and some friends decide to visit the Knoxville World's Fair. Well, that was a great idea, but their guidebook was several years old and the fair was long gone. When they get their they find the Sunsphere is now called the Wigsphere, for it holds thousands of unsold wigs. One of the kids throws a rock at it in disgust, only to watch in horror as the tower falls to the ground.

It was a fun world's fair reference. I wonder if the writers had seen the fair back in the good old days?

Monday, April 11, 2011

More on the Mets

1964 was an exciting time for baseball fans in New York. While the Mets players were a big box office attraction, not for all the right reasons, there was also a great new stadium in town. I had been to a number of games at Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds, and both of them looked pretty tacky when compared to the wonders of Shea Stadium. True, Yankee Stadium was full of history, but it was also full of really annoying steel pillars that all too often blocked your view. Shea was quite a contract, with clean lines of sight and a modern, uncluttered look.

This wooden walkway, which is still there, linked the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair with Shea Stadium. Sadly both of those aren't still there as well. I was back there a few weeks ago and it sure looks strange to look out and not see Shea there...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The REAL Mr. Mets

Mr. Mets wasn't the only member of the Amazing Mets to visit the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. In fact, he was there with his boss, famous manager Casey Stengel. Stengel had been the long-time manager of the New York Yankees, then after sitting out one season he took over the new Mets franchise. The team didn't do well those first years, but Stengel was a beloved figure in NY baseball and was a big help to eventually making the Mets successful. Here he's being interviewed outside the Hall of Free Enterprise at the Fair.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Meet Mr. Mets

There was a lot going on in New York in 1964. Not only was there the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair, but the city's newest ball team, the Mets, had just moved into the spanking brand new Shea Stadium. Shea was just next to the fair, so it was only natural that there be a number of cross promotions between the two organizations. Here we see the team's mascot, Mr. Mets, appearing outside the Hall of Free Enterprise at the Fair. He wasn't the only member of the Mets there that day - we'll meet one more tomorrow.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Back to New York!

OK, after a few days looking at theme parks we'll get back to world's fairs. Here's a view I enjoy of the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. This was taken during the 1965 season, looking across from the Lake Amusement Area towards the Transportation Area. Carousel Park was a late addition to the Fair, offering a number of food choices and a merry-go-round. The carousel is still in the park today at a different spot, making it one of the few links to what was a great fair. My kids were on it a few times when they were young, and it's great that it's still there.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Palisades Park - Part 3

The computer is back in full working order so it's time again for more enjoyable pastimes. We're back at Palisades Park! One of the more unusual attractions was this giant swimming pool. Not only was it the biggest pool I had ever seen, at 400 by 600 feet, but it was filled with salt water. I believe it was the largest salt water pool in the world, and it may still hold that record. It was fun to go to Palisades, enjoy a cool swim in the pool during the heat of the day then go on the rides in the cooler night hours.

Palisades Park was high above the Hudson River, so besides the swims and rides you also got some great views from up there. I imagine the people living in the apartments built there enjoy their views, but I bet most of them never had fun in this pool.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

No picture today

Too busy cleaning up the residue of a virus attack on my computer. Thankfully I have some good software and backups so everything looks ok, but scanning these large drives takes a lot of time so I'm just letting it run tonight.

What a pain...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Palisades Park - Part 2

Palisades Park was a bit of ride from our town on Long Island, so I didn't get there as often as some of the other parks in the area. Each time I did get there it was a fun trip. The rides were fun, and there was more junk food than my humble budget could afford. I remember going there with my family, the Boy Scouts, and some friends from high school. I don't remember if I ever used one of those discount coupons from my prized comic books though!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Palisades Park

Here's another great - and vanished - amusement park. This one was Palisades Park in New Jersey. You couldn't go long listening to the radio in the New York City area without hearing a commercial for the place, and it was also advertised regularly in Superman comic books. There was even a popular song about the place.

Yes sir, Palisades Park was THE place to be for many years. This view is from August 1962. We'll see some more of Palisades Park tomorrow.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Rockaways' Playland - Part 3

To me, a classic amusement park has to have a midway full of tacky games where you can win equally tacky prizes; plenty of opportunity to eat things that you really shouldn't; plenty of crowds and sounds to make the place interesting; and, most of all, a wooden rollercoaster. Rockaways' Playland sure had all of these and more.

The rollercoaster was a great way to know you were getting close to he park, as it stood out high above everything else in the area. Once at the park it was always right nearby, shuddering and shaking as carloads of screaming riders had fun tempting fate. It always sounded like it was ready to come apart at any moment, but I guess that was part of the fun. There are some sad pictures out there of the coaster being ripped apart when the park shut, for while some of the rides found new homes, the coaster was simply too big and too expensive to relocate.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Rockaways' Playland - Part 2

Rockaways' Playland opened in 1902 and was a popular spot, providing fun along the beach and an opportunity to escape the heat of the city. I was never there in winter, so I don't know if it was a year-round park or not. Knowing what New York winters can be like I would suspect it wasn't. But, as the sign says, it had "The Most Fun-Packed Midway in all America". This shot was taken in July 1963. Sadly, Playland closed in 1985. Imagine that.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rockaways' Playland

Well, I made it back from New York! I had some fun exploring the former New York State Pavilion and will post pictures of that adventure later. As our flight left JFK it took us right over the former site of Rockaways' Playland, a long ago vanished amusement park. While not as well known as Coney Island or other classic parks, Playland was a lot of fun in its day. If you've ever seen the film "This is Cinerama" that's the Playland's rollercoaster. While today there's nothing left to mark the site, I thought a few vintage pictures would make an adequate fill-in. Here's the entrance and ticket windows. More to come.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Why is this blog like the Indonesia Pavilion?

Here's a shot of the Indonesia Pavilion during the second season of the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. If you click on it to enlarge it you'll see a "Closed" sign blocking the entrance. Due to politics and finance the pavilion didn't open that season, and sat there instead as a sad symbol of world politics.

I'm hanging out a "Closed" sign for a few days. No politics here, just a trip that will keep me away from my main computer and my photo files. I'll be in New York and if I get by the fair grounds I'll make a stop at the site of the old Indonesia pavilion. That's if I venture outside much - they're predicting snow and after 35 years of living in Los Angeles I'm spoiled!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

More on Expo Ernie

Yesterday I posted a view of Expo Ernie, the mascot for Expo 86, taken during the design process. Here's another early view, which I believe is from a sequence shot to first show off the character. Here Ernie is posing with some construction worked on the Expo site in October 1983. A lot of work was going on to get the place built, and Ernie jumped in to help with an equally important task - selling Expo 86 to the public. I'd say he did a good job on that!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Creating Expo Ernie

Expo Ernie was the delightful mascot of Vancouver's Expo 86. In addition to starring on a myriad of items sold at the fair, including shirts, dolls, pennants, and more, Ernie was also there as a remote control character that moved around seemingly on his own. Ernie did a lot of pre-fair appearances to drum up interest in the fair as well. Here's the earliest photograph I've found so far of Ernie, showing a clay model of the figure.

I think Ernie was one of the best fair mascots of all time. At least he was easily recognizable, unlike a lot of the blob like figures of some recent fair.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Expo 86. I haven't heard of any celebrations for that yet, but if they do hold one, I'll bet Ernie will be there again.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Harder Than It Looks

It looks like being one of the Mounties on duty at Expo '67 was easy work, right? Well, while Montreal can be pretty chilly in the winter, it can also get warm and humid in the summer. This shot was taken in July 1967, so that wool uniform might have been a bit warm. And let's think about how much fun it would have been to have to sit still and pose for pictures. Still, I bet the Mountie had a ball at Expo. The mood that summer was electric, and to have been part of it would have been something not easily forgotten.

That's one well trained horse.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Instead of painting the site green to help celebrate St. Patrick's Day I thought I would use a shot of the Ireland pavilion at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. This was taken on April 21, 1965, for those of you keeping score. I enjoyed this view of the WNEW News station wagon making its way through the fair. Imagine what a great job it would have been being a reporter assigned to the Fair? Even on a slow day there was probably a lot going on - and the press pass probably got you into some great spots!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

38 years ago in Flushing Meadows

I lost track of the date and forgot to post this one yesterday. This is the Unisphere from the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair as it looked on March 15, 1963. Can you imagine how nervous the designers and builders must have been as they worked to assemble it? If anything had gone wrong it would have been a major embarrassment and left the Fair without its theme symbol. Happily it all came together and the Unisphere is still with us today.

I better not miss another important date tomorrow - my wedding anniversary!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Maps, maps, maps - Part 8

Sometimes there's not much demand for a map. That's the case in this scene from Brisbane's Expo 88. It's about 8:10 in the morning and things were just getting in gear despite the rainy weather. Other shots from that day showed quite a few people turned out for the day, so I imagine the maps were appreciated then.

Days like this are my favorite way to see a fair. The lack of crowds makes it easier to get into the pavilions, but it really helps in getting shots of the buildings without them being blocked by crowds. I'll take a light rain over a lengthy line in the sun any time!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Maps, maps, maps - Part 8

Expo 86 also featured giant maps to help you find your way around the site. The task was made even easier by the fairs color coding system, which broke the fair into several themed sections. The colors of things like flags along the walkways matched the colors of the zones on the map, making it easier to know where you were and where you were heading. The guide maps themselves were easy to spot as they were under towers with the giant "86" logo as seen here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Maps, maps, maps - Part 7

This colorful map was located at Expo '85, which was held in Tsukuba, Japan. It was located between Tokyo and the site of the recent horrific earthquake, but I haven't heard yet about damage in that area. The site was converted to industrial use following the fair, with the exception of the green parkland section. Back in 1985 color-coded maps like this one were a big help in finding my way around the site.

Expo '85 was one of my favorite fairs. I hope all of the people I met there are well now.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Maps, maps, maps - Part 6

Besides the maps that were parts of the fair itself, the 1984 New Orleans World's Fair - like most others - also had maps for sale. I'm not sure how well they sold, for while I have seen many copies of the guidebook for sale over the years, I don't think I have come across a separate stand-alone map from the fair. Some of the maps from other fairs show just the name of a pavilion and where it's located, while others have small drawings of the pavilions, which really helps place where a particular image was located on the fair site.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

No picture today - I'm in shock about the disaster in Japan

I have been to Japan many times and worked in Tokyo. Watching what they are going through there now is heartbreaking. I was there in a few minor quakes, but the damage from this one is unbelievable, especially the tsunami damage. My thoughts are with everyone there tonight.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

We've seen a number of maps that were part of various displays at different pavilions, but here we see a potentially more useful map. World's Fairs are usually big, chaotic, and confusing. Happily guests to the 1984 New Orleans World's Fair, aka the Louisiana World Exposition, could find their way around the place using these giant color-coded maps which were located near the entrances and at other strategic points. This particular map was on the International Riverfront. That's the Sky Transpo system just behind it.

Like the Moscow map from Expo 67, I wonder if any of these have survived.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Maps, maps, maps - Part 5

Here's one of the most unusual, and most beautiful, maps I have found at a world's fair. This map of Moscow hung in the window area of the USSR Pavilion at Expo 67. What made it so unusual was that it was all done in stained glass, an art medium I generally don't think of as Russian, at least in connection to the Cold War years. The map was really something to see, as it was very large, and with the wide windows behind it it really showed up well.

After Expo 67 ended the building was moved to Moscow. I wonder if the map made it there as well.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Maps, maps, maps - Part 4

One more map from the 1962 Seattle World's Fair before we move on. This one was at the Canada Pavilion, and it featured colored lights representing growth projections for the population and industries in the country's major cities. That fit in well with the overall purpose of the pavilion - and the fair itself, in fact - in hoping to attract new business and economic growth., So, while not a particularly exciting map, nor easy to understand without the taed narration that explained the lights, it's still a vital part of world's fair history.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Maps, maps, maps - Part 3

Let's take a closer look at that map at the Pavilion of Electric Power at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. This section of the model is of the Seattle area, with all sorts of power plants spread across it. Taped narration explained the vast power grid and how important it was to the people of the state. Lights flickered in the tubes connecting the power plants and the cities, bringing a sense of movement to the display. The narration prompted visitors to vote on any new laws or bond measures to keep the system alive and growing.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Maps, maps, maps - Part 2

The 1962 Seattle World's Fair also featured a giant relief map. This one was part of the Pavilion of Electric Power, seen here. Visitors could look down from a curving walkway for views of the power system of the State of Washington, including projections for future growth to meet the needs of the growing state. While most of the facilities were hydro-electric plants, there was the forecast of nuclear plants as part of a marketing plan to help sell the technology to those who might be voting on it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Maps, maps, maps - Part 1

A world's fair is certainly guaranteed to put the host city on the map. For some fairs that wasn't enough, though - they made maps a part of the show. One of the largest examples is seen here in this view from Expo 58. This giant relief map of the host country, Belgium, showed the location of major cities, industries, and landmarks. It was built at a scale of 1:3500 and was part of the Civil Engineering Pavilion.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

Clowning Around - Part 4

Let's jump ahead a few years to Montreal's Expo 67. There were a number of different clown troupes that worked their way around the site. Their colorful costumes made for some great photographic opportunities.

The pavilion in the back is one of my favorite world's fair designs. The tree-shaped Pulp and Paper pavilion just looked great - and still does in vintage photos! Sadly the real building is long gone.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Clowning Around - Part 3

Emmett Kelly, Jr. became a big star at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. Literally. He was honored with one of the giant prints that adorned the top of the Kodak Pavilion. This shot was from the early days of the fair in April 1964. I imagine it had to have been quite a thrill for him.

I wonder if he got to take it home when they swapped it out for another image. I guess it might have been a tad impractical to keep, but it sure would have been a conversation piece.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Clowning Around - Part 2

A more famous clown appeared at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. This was Emmett Kelly, Jr., who was part of the Kodak exhibit. Emmett would stop and sign autographs for the crowd, usually on a special postcard produced for the purpose. As could be expected, a lot of people took pictures of him doing just that. Pretty smart of those Kodak people, wasn't it?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Clowning Around - Part 1

Let's take a look at the lighter side of a few world's fairs. These folks were clowning around outside the Construction Industries Building at the 1939-40 San Francisco World's Fair. I would imagine they were part of one of the shows or attractions but don't have any firm details as of yet. It looks like it was a beautiful day, doesn't it?