Staged to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal, and drawing over 19 million visitors in only nine months, the Pan-Pacific International Expo rose like a literal jewel from the ashes of San Francisco's 1906 Earthquake and Fire.
A Century of Progress International Exposition was held in Chicago, Illinois from 1933 to 1934 to celebrate the city's centennial. The theme of the fair was technological innovation. Its motto was "Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms".
The 1939-40 New York World's Fair, located on the current site of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, was one of the largest world's fairs of all time. The fair ran for two seasons and over 44 million people attended.
The Golden Gate International Exposition was held in San Francisco, California to celebrate the opening of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge. The exposition's first season ran from February 18, 1939 through October 29, 1939 and its second season was from May 25, 1940 through September 29, 1940.
The 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair, located on the current site of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The fair ran for two seasons and took place without sanctioning from the Bureau of International Expositions.
Expo 67 was held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada from April 27 to October 29, 1967. It was considered to be the most successful World's Fair of the 20th century, with over 50 million visitors and 62 nations participating.
The JFK Library site (the Back Bay in Boston) had already been selected by Mrs. Kennedy and the family by early in 1964. The idea of a presidential library in Flushing Meadow Park really makes no sense at all. I do remember that NYC, when discussions about the building's future were held, proposed a public library for that area of Queens using the Federal Pavilion. There were also suggestions about using it for a vocational school as well. None of these ideas materialized. Retrofitting the building was just too complicated and costly.
As far as the wooden pilings supporting the light towers are concerned, I was simply quoting the information Hoodlock, who was a most enthusiastic member and a source of much interesting information, offered to members of this site nearly seventeen years ago.
Craig, from your notes, for what President were they considering a Presidential Library?
All that comes to mind in that time frame is Kennedy.
Can't be Hoover or Truman or Eisenhower since all three had already presided over the opening of their libraries at that point (Hoover in 1962).
Jim, its not that the Fair Corporation had any plans to retain the US Pavilion or the NYS Pavilion. The decision to retain both of those buildings was decided by a committee that was headed by city officials reporting to Mayor Wagner. Federal and State officials pushed for their retention respectively against Moses wishes.
In the case of the US Pavilion, the Federal government never paid for the utility services it consumed during the fair despite the Fair Corporations many attempts to collect the balance due up to the time the fair closed. Once the fair agreed to accept a reduced amount on that account, then the government told the Fair Corp. that if they paid the utility bill balance there would be no money left for demolition.
In the case of the NYS Pavilion, Governor Rockefeller basically told the City that the pavilion was originally planned as a permanent structure and was to be a gift to the people of New York. Done deal.
In effect, politicians that had more political capital at the time made those decisions. Of course once the park was returned to Parks Department control on June 3, 1967, it was up to the city to maintain and preserve these structures.
This is what I wrote about these two buildings (as well as 8 others) in an article titled "An Almost Fond Farewell Before the Show Even Started" back in 2005, which can be found on Bill Young's nywf64.com website.
New York State – Surprising enough the fair records indicate that in 1966 the State of New York and the City of New York “told” fair officials that this building was to be a gift to the people of New York. The files contain no structural evaluations and there was very little discussion amongst fair officials about this decision. This obviously was a very political issue and even Robert Moses himself did not feel compelled to dispute this decision and as such it was accepted as fact by the fairs officials. At this point the fair corporation proceeded with the small amount of work necessary to convert the building for some kind of park use after they received assurances from the state government that the necessary funds would be made available to pay for the work.
United States Pavilion – This is where the records really get interesting. By far there was more discussion and documentation about the retention of this structure after the fair than any other building noted in the files. As early as 1963 fair officials were adamant about their desire not to see this building retained in the park after the fair. Though at some point during 1964 it seemed that the New York Board of Education expressed a serious interest in the building even though Moses once again expressed his view that a city park was no place for a school. Once again proposals were made and opinions voiced. The records clearly document that through much of 1964 and well into 1965 many meetings were held where various state and federal officials weighed in on this subject with no clear decision as to the buildings fate being made. At various times in mid 1965 the idea of using the building for a presidential library was proposed as well as a federal office building! It doesn’t seem that Moses objected to the library idea but he positively had a fit over the office building idea! But looming as a bigger issue now was the fact that the U.S. government had neglected to pay for any of the electric and water service to the building from the date the utilities were turned on back in 1963. By the time the fair corporation began in earnest to pursue the government for payment of the bill it totaled almost $215,000.00! Bearing in mind that the fair was working to put its financial affairs in order due to the fact that it desperately needed as much money as it could lay its hands on fair officials spent a considerable amount of time corresponding back and forth with various government officials about the validity of the bill and the need for it to be paid. Each time pressing a little with one official and then another as they worked their way up the government food chain. At one point the government flat out told the fair that they thought the bill was excessive where as Moses countered with a press release slamming the government for failing to pay its bills in a timely fashion and throwing in for good measure that the government had also not allotted any money in its budget for demolition of the building. Behind the scenes though fair officials countered with numerous meter readings and various contract verbiage in a desperate attempt to collect on this large bill. Finally, fair officials relented and reduced the bill to approximately $197,000.00 which the government finally paid in October 1965 just as the fair was preparing to close its gates! The government’s correspondence during this period indicate that $125,000.00 was budgeted for utilities and that $72,000.00 would need to be transferred from the demolition reserve fund to pay the agreed amount. While this dispute was being worked out it seems that the Board of Education lost interest in the building once again due to the high cost of upgrading the structure to then current building codes. An earlier study had estimated the total cost of conversion at $3,761,000.00. By this time though it seems that miraculously whatever remaining demolition funds the U.S. government had set aside for this purpose were no longer available. I speculate that this was due in large part to under budgeting and the belief on the government’s part that maybe, somehow water and electric were free for them at the fair! As such (as would be the case with the New York State pavilion) in January 1966 the people of New York got another unexpected gift this time courtesy of our government with control of the building being turned over to the parks department in September 1966. It is at this point that the fair corporation simply washed their hands of any responsibility or involvement with the building even though at the time they were still very actively involved and in control of the rest of the park as they proceeded with the final phases of the restoration work. As a side note to this issue as late as mid 1967 Sam Lefrak, the developer of Lefrak city in Queens proposed creating an art museum in the building and was aggressively pursuing this plan of action in hopes of having the museum ready for the rededication of the park in June of that same year. Obviously nothing ever came of his idea and as such the building was to sit empty until the city finally put this once magnificent structure out of its misery and demolished it in the late 1970’s.
Thank you so much folks, this is exactly the kind of insight my research wasn't throwing up. I really do appreciate it!
If I ever get the chance to chat to him again I'll see if any of these jog his memory to clarify it. I think "To Be Alive" sounds very much like the film he was trying to remember.