Fifty years ago next week the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair opened in Flushing Meadows. The New York Times looks back at the fair and the times.
The grounds of the 1964 New York World’s Fair were a blur of perpetual motion: Gondolas dangled above the crowds from the Swiss Sky Ride, a monorail glided in the Lake Amusement area, Greyhound Escorters ferried fatigued visitors, helicopters landed on the Port Authority’s helipad and a giant tire Ferris wheel spun.
On the 50th anniversary of the fair’s opening, we asked readers to share their memories of the event and photographs from their visits. We got more than 1,200 responses, which included many snapshots of visitors with the Unisphere and recollections of eating Belgian waffles, being entranced by new technology (the touch tone phone!) and feeling moved by Michelangelo’s Pietà.
The fair, with pavilions sponsored by car companies and insurance giants and with special effects by Disney, may have been as corporate as a modern Olympics, but it still sparked the imaginations of those who attended.
My family went to see the fair in early September of 1964. I was eleven, about to turn twelve, and it was my first trip to New York City. We flew into Newark and stayed in a hotel in Manhattan — The Waldorf, I think — and then went out to the fair on the subway; the fare was fifteen cents.
It was, to this kid from Ohio, amazing. We saw all the famous exhibits: IBM, GE, Ford, Bell System, GM, Kodak (and that damn song that has been bored into the brain since then), the Vatican, Pakistan, Africa, the Belgian Village, and just about everything in between. We must have spent two or three days at the fair to see all that I remember seeing.
We did other things, too, including hitting the usual tourist sites in New York City, including the Empire State Building and my first Broadway musical, High Spirits, by Noel Coward starring Tammy Grimes and Beatrice Lillie. On our last full day we went to Radio City Music Hall and saw the Rockettes.
Did you go? Share your memories.