The tower that had elevators did not have stairs going to the ground because of counterweights and cables but still there were several flights of stairs inside the tower column near the top that connected the lower of the elevator platforms to the platform of the neighboring tower so that anyone could get to the ground from the top platform in the event that the elevators were not operating. Because of this the counterweights could not travel to the top of the towers but only to just below these stairs. They were roped in some ratio that they did not travel the same distance as the elevator cars. There would have been two sets of pulleys. One set at the extreme top of the tower leading the cables from the elevator cars to the center of the tower column and down the middle. The other set would have been located on a platform just below the tower stairs for the counterweight cables. My guess is that the platform we see in the picture is the one below the stairs where the counterweight pulleys are mounted. The openings we see in the center of the platform would be for the cables coming down from the upper pulleys in the tower. All cables would then lead down the center of the column to the basement to wrap around the drive pulleys. I believe I even see a stair tread in the debris.
I for one would love to see the entire pavilion restored to its original splendor but realistically I know that it will not happen that way. The fact that the tent of tomorrow is sitting on wooden pilings pretty much dooms that structure. I don't believe they will spend the money required to reinforce the foundation for the TOT and that probably it will eventually be demolished in the name of public safety.
I read somewhere though that the towers were built on steel pilings and that they are not in danger of collapse. If nothing else I would like to see the towers somewhat restored to their original beauty. I can't see the elevators ever being replaced though. For one thing there wouldn't be huge numbers of people using them as was at the time of the fair. Also to have elevators that require operators would not be practical. Also self service elevators would be out of the question since they would be in an uncontrolled, unattended, and unpoliced environment. Not to mention the amount of maintenance required for elevators that are exposed year around to the elements. It would be nice though to have the stairs replaced so that people could enjoy the views from the towers. Also new roof panels, new panels on the undersides of the platforms, new lighting, and sandblasting and repainting of the steelwork of the towers. There I go dreaming again. It sure wouldn't hurt to at least try to stop the decay from advancing any further and do a little sprucing up of the pavilions appearance.
I wish I were more optimistic about the future. This being my favorite of all the pavilions at the fair from a structural standpoint I am hoping for the best but I fear the worst.
I would love to see another world's fair at Flushing Meadow as long as the old NYSP was not demolished. It would be great if they could renew it like they did to the New York City building from the 1939-40 fair. Attending the 1964-65 New York World's Fair was one of the most memorable things I ever got to do in my childhood and to this day I still think about it. The problem is I don't think that a world's fair is economically possible though in today's financial crunch. The big three auto makers put up multi-million dollar pavilions for the 1964-65 fair. We'd be lucky to see any of them erect a pup tent for a pavilion at a fair today. I hate to say it but if the two previous fairs were financial failures a fair of the present day would not stand a chance at success.
I seem to remember reading here somewhere something that Otis sent regarding the roping ratio of the elevator system. I can't remember the ratio but it would certainly accomplish what Randy is talking about. That is when the elevator car is at its lowest point of travel, the counterweights would only go as high as the bottom of the stairway. The cables however would pass all the way down from the pulleys at the top of the tower through the stairway and continue to the motor room below ground. That would explain why it was necessary to have the plexiglas panels on the inner side of the stairs. The moving cables would be a hazard in such a close area.
All of this is so fascinating to me and I am so grateful that one among us has the means to capture it in pictures for the rest of us. I have always wondered what the elevator motores looked like. I live in Florida but I hope that one day before its too late that I might visit the park and see the NYSP again. Sure wish that they could at least save the towers somehow. I can't see them ever replacing the elevators but they could replace the stairs so people could again enjoy the views from the top.
I can't help but wonder what the powers that be had in mind when saving the pavilion and especially the towers. The elevators were not self serve as I recall and required an operator. Elevators also require lots of routine inspection and maintenance and even more so if they are outdoors and exposed to the elements as these were.
Thanks Johnny for all the woderful pictures you've posted here. I don't know if I would have had the courage to go down to those sub levels alone in the darkness even if I had access as you have.
I doubt that the cables would have wound onto a drum or spool in the basement for several reasons. First they would have to be very large spools to have the capacity to take up that much cable and it would be difficult to keep the car traveling at the same speed through out its travel due to the fact that as the spool filled up with the cable it would pull the car faster and faster. Also with that amount of weight hanging from the cables they would tend to wear very rapidly being wound onto themselves at high speed perhaps a hundred times a day for two years. And then there is the fact that with multiple cables coming from each car what would keep them from getting tangled and snarled and locked on the spool?
I still believe that whatever arrangement there was for the counterweights that the motors for the elevators were located in the uppermost section of the column just under the aviation light. I sure wish some blueprints or drawings for the elevators would turn up somewhere.
The color photo is definately the top observation platform of the tallest tower because if you look where the people are looking over the rail you will see double hanger cables to their right. Only the top platform had these double hanger cables in order to support the weight of the lower platform. The way the tower was designed the top most platform was hung from the cantilevered beams with double cables and the platform directly below hung from the upper one with single cables. Also the platforms on the two other towers were hung with single hanger cables.
Here is my newest idea also with the motors located inside the column at the top just under the roof. The cables could be continuous from one car to the other. The cables could go up from the roof of one car to the pulley at the top then over a drive sheave in the column then down to a pulley that a counterweight hangs from low in the tower and then back up to the top of the column and over another drive sheave and out and down to the car on the other side. This would form a loop in the tower that one counterweight could hang from on a pulley. One counterweight could counter balance both cars this way and yet each car would be able to operate independently.
As either car moved up or down the counterweight would roll by the pulley it hangs from on the loop of cables down toward the bottom of the tower. The weight would be at its highest point if both cars were on the ground and at its lowest if they were both at the top. With one car up and one down the weight would then be at some midway point. This would explain why both sets of six cables seem to come together into a group of twelve toward the bottom of the tower. With this arrangement the counterweight would not have as much vertical travel as the cars. Crazy idea but it still seems workable.
It just doesn't make any sense that with one elevator car in the pit on the ground that there is no counterweight to be seen hanging up in the tower column. I sure hope someone can get hold of a set of plans or blueprints that might explain how this whole thing actually worked. A time machine would come in real handy right about now! If I could go back in time the 1964-65 New York World's Fair would certainly be at the top of my list of things to see again.
I have always been intrigued by the towers of New York State pavilion. I remember riding the elevator to the observation platform as a kid. I just thought I might put in my two cents worth.
I think that the motors for the elevators must be located at the top of the tallest tower which actually had two observation platforms the highest being 25 feet above the lower. The elevators only went to the lower of these platforms and to reach the upper one you had to go up a stairway that was out on the platform itself. This would leave the section of tower from the upper platform to the tower roof empty of any stairs and would be room enough for two motors and drive sheaves to operate the elevators.
The elevator cables would go from the top of the car up to a pulley mounted to one of the cantilevered beams at roof level then enter the center column and go over a drive sheave connected to a motor. From the drive sheave the cable would then go down the center of the column where it would have a counter weight attached to the lower end.
Also it was mentioned elsewhere on this topic that the elevator tower did not have stairs all the way to the ground but only from tower two platform to the lowest observation platform on the tallest tower. If there was a pit deep enough under the tallest tower for the counterweights to decend into it would allow the elevator car to be at ground level and the counter weight to ascend only to where the stairs at tower 2 level begin thus not interfering with the stairway. Then when the car is at the top the counterweight would be all the way down in the deep part of the pit. This way if the stairs connecting the tower two level with tower three is in a triangle arrangement the counterweight would not interfere with it. Only the cables would pass through this area and they would go down through the center.
I only wish I had thought to try the stairs when I was there as a kid. I would have remembered every last detail. This was my favorite pavilion at the fair. I am thrilled that it still stands today. I only wish as everyone else does that it hadn't been neglected all these years.