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Doug Peterson

First Impressions

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For those of us who were living within a fairly close distance of the NYWF site in the years preceding the Fair's opening, I ask the following question:

What was it, visually or otherwise, that first made you realize something special was happening at Flushing Meadows?

For me, I think, it was the sight of a giant orange, atop the tower of the structure that would become the Florida pavilion in the Lake Amusement Area. I don't know if this was one of the first landmarks of the Fair to actually be constructed, or if it was just the part of the park we passed by most regularly (I was not yet of driving age, and paid little attention to such details), but the image of the orange -- and all the activity around it -- was enough to make me eager for the Fair's opening, and to whet my appetite for the wonders yet to come.

So what do you remember from the early days of construction?

-- Doug Peterson --

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I remember during a stickball game in the fall of 1959 somebody mention that a new baseball stadium was to be built nearby. Someone's father was working on the project and the talk at that time was regarding the dome the ballpark was to have. We asked how could you have a glass roof over a ballpark. My friend explained that it was some kind of plastic. He went on to describe the panels by telling us it was like putting layers of plastic food wrap together till it was about four inches thick.

The first time I discovered the fair was during an outing just after Christmas, 1961. My sister and I received ice-skates as holiday gifts and we went to the New York City building to skate. When we got there I saw two steel 'I' beams sticking out of the ground about sixty feet tall. I discovered they were building something call a Unisphere The place was a frozen mess so rather than explore we went skating. Back in the day, the building was divided in two sections, one for ice-skating and the other for roller-skating. The building was huge and cavernous with clear views of both skating rings. There were two viewing decks that encircled the floors one was about four feet off the ground and the other was a balcony close to twenty feet up and had an old stadium feel to it.

By the time the fair started taking shape, my friends and I had climbed into and on anything we could find. We quickly discovered the Pinks and were thrown out regularly. One time we were escorted to the area by the Press Building and put out. It was in February of 1964 we were on our bikes and it was getting dark. We had to completely circle the fair to get home that’s when I saw the lights for the first time. We were up on an elevated roadway with a panoramic view of the fair it was awesome I spotted the swirling lights of General Electric and was sold.

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The original plan for Shea envisioned a Phase II with the grandstand being extended to fill in the open outfield section and the structure domed. The City actually pushed for this around '66 or '67 but they were opposed by the Mets who felt that an 80,000 seat stadium was far too large for baseball crowds (correct) and an engineering report which suggested that the stadium foundation might not support the added weight of a dome.

This plan was in part revived (minus the dome)when the City prepared a bid for the '84 Olympics. At that time the IOC thought the Games were getting far too expensive and they were looking at sites with an existing major stadium. The Mets blocked it again though and the Olympics went to L.A.

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I think there were some posts somewhere about traveling fair exhibits, but I could not seem to find them. Here is a huge walk around model on display in Washington DC.

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If the fair knew they would wind up needing the money they could have sold these 30,000 people tickets and gave them an advance tour.

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Now here is a great job, not only do you get to tour Ford before the fair opens but you get paid for it too.

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When we were building Space Mountain at Disneyland we paid people to ride it non-stop over and over so we could test various weight/speed settings. The poor people couldn't stand up when they got off the ride. Sounds like the Ford testers had a far better deal! What great publicity for Ford when all of the testers started telling their friends about it.

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When we were building Space Mountain at Disneyland we paid people to ride it non-stop over and over so we could test various weight/speed settings. The poor people couldn't stand up when they got off the ride. Sounds like the Ford testers had a far better deal! What great publicity for Ford when all of the testers started telling their friends about it.

Space Mountain over and over? As Mae West said, "Too much of a good thing ... is wonderful!".

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I cannot determine the date of the newspaper article indicating Ford hired 400 people to tour their exhibit to determine if it was "intersting, appealing and understandable." However, it implies that the pavilion was completed at that time and ready to go. It seems like it is rather late to make such judgements. What might Ford have done had the majority of those people exited the place yawning and complaining? I wonder if the wizard who came up with this idea to determine the pavilion's appeal is the same dude who designed the Edsel.

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That is definitely rather late to determine if a multi-million dollar pavilion is "interesting, appealing and understandable."

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Now here is a great job, not only do you get to tour Ford before the fair opens but you get paid for it too.

Thanks for posting this Chairman,

This corroborates the story that I found in the April 20, 1964 issue of Time magazine:

<a href="http://www.peacethroughunderstanding.org/index.php?s=&showtopic=4797&view=findpost&p=33959" target="_blank">http://www.peacethroughunderstanding.org/i...indpost&p=33959</a>

Best Regards,

Kevin

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Wow, talk about hyperbole. This article is dripping with it. The Fair offered so much promise--even more than just laying "the golden egg." With gushing writers such as this one, it is no wonder that the Fair had a hard time living up to the impossible.

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Why did the fair lose money? It was packed the times I was there. I sure wouldn't have wanted to

wait any longer in line to see the exibits.

I was just looking at some of my photos. will someone tell me what those stacks of white

balloon like things are? I assume they were places to eat???

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I'll take the easy one first. The white balloon roofs marked Brass Rail snack bars. More on that here:

<a href="http://www.worldsfairphotos.com/nywf64/brass-rail.htm" target="_blank">http://www.worldsfairphotos.com/nywf64/brass-rail.htm</a>

As to losing money. There were LOTS of reasons. Poor accounting practices. Overspending. Exorbitant union fees. Overly optimistic projections. There are numerous stories here on PTU and lots of theories. Pick one, any one!

Bill

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