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magikbilly

Click your heels three times...Perisphere Entrance

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Hello,

 I post this to celebrate a wonderful time I had walking in the park with a friend, slipping between the memories, about 8 years ago the other day.  I don't have this photograph in hand yet to make a proper scan, but I wanted to show it as it is so unusual. While this entrance and signage show up almost enough in photographs and slides in an unintentional or indirect way, often a bit too far away, rarely is this most important of entrances the subject of the photograph. Not sure why. Bill? Jim? Trey? Randy? It would seem this should appear much more than it does. There are enough Futurama entrance photographs, but there you had the time on those huge lines to actually take some photographs. I can't claim to have seen quantities of lines streaming into this structure in all my years. A theoretical lack of a pair painted yellow Kodak feet doesn't quite explain this view almost always missing from albums of nearly any size. Perhaps it is the location with the trees at your back - perhaps a photo-unfriendly situation? I have been finding this fair extremely vertical and tight in some places. This is most apparent in the large format slides - doesn't quite register the same in 35mm undoubtedly due to some lens business.

 Here we have the entrance to the future photographed as focal point (thankfully it is a decent composition), nicely readable sign, with what I believe is a ticket booth (one of two; the other out of frame to the right) and/or a venue to purchase the 25 cent Official Program. A nice long line of folk wait to enter and ascend the Otis Elevator, largest in the world of course, and witness the Democracity display. The actual entrance is surprisingly small, no? This was 90' per side, yes? No, I am not fully certain this is 1940, but I will be when I get it.

 This photograph has a brother taken on the Helicline. After seeing the Democracity and walking across the Observation Bridge the photographer entered the Trylon, passed through and exited onto the Helicline. Just as the photographer exited the Trylon and started walking down the gentle incline he turned to his extreme right and took a superb photo unlike any I have seen. This I do not have a decent enough scan of to show yet. They are medium format photographs and will be very cold b/w and quite sharp despite the granular paper. The sign on the booth will be readable for example. This image below, made from a poor snapshot taken with a phone or blender or something, is quite spatially distorted and wanting. But, you will get the idea. It is actually rather copped here with a faked corner because it was so curved in the sale photo. I recall Bill has a very good one, probably in his book, and there is a superb image* in the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Samuel Gottsho. Once I can make a reasonable scan of this it should not come up quite as short.

 

T&P Entrannce and Ticket booth 1940 © EKL 2015.jpg

The Entrance to the Perisphere at the base of the Trylon, late summer, 1940 New York World's Fair © EKL15

 

Best wishes,

                        Eric

* In this image here there are a series of 4 framed posters, or what appear to be framed posters, on the side of the Trylon to the right in this image I just posted. Have we discussed these? I seem to recall it but can't remember what we found them to be. Anyone? You can also see the other booth, and a framed image of Democracity used in the Official Program on the side of the booth. Here is a version you can click on that enlarges to a tremendous degree. Click image

Edited by magikbilly

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Hello Expo,

 

 Unfortunately yes. General Admission did not include the Theme Center which cost an additional 25 cents. The T&P closed at 10 pm which is useful for figuring out when some photographs were taken.

 

Best wishes,

                          Eric

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Hi Expoboy,

 

 Well, yes indeed. Consider - 35 cents got in the Aviation Bar and Grill. Full ham dinner with dressing, mashed or baked I think, some vegetable or other, coffee, dessert etc. and so on. I don't have the menu in front of me but you got a lot. And the ride to get there - 5 cents. I always thought this exhibit should have been free to ALL. Call me simplistic. Make it up some some other way I don't care. This message - to charge for it...I dunno...tastes...metallic.

 

Best wishes,

                         Eric

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25 cents was also the price of the Guide Book and I agree that extra amount in 1939 was not always easy for many people. I have to wonder how many may have gone to the Fair but did not visit the Theme Center because of the entrance fee--especially if it was a family of four or five people.

 

I still remember going to the Fair in September of 1965 and my father thought the $2.50 entry fee was expensive. I suppose these things are relative to the time period. 

Edited by Jim

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There's a LOT of things my family didn't do in 1964 because of the cost.  Escorter.  Monorail ride.  We were only there for one day, so skipping the fee pavilions made sense.  We DID go in Pepsi though, and they charged.

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I believe it took one into the Trylon and up what was billed as the world's longest escalator and then to a bridge which crossed from the Trylon and into the Perisphere.  One exited the Perisphere after viewing Democracity via the Helicline.

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Hi George :)

 

Sure, After passing under the "Entrance" sign, you went up one of two Otis elevators, largest in the world, and the were deposited inside the Perisphere onto one of two rotating platforms above the Democracity. After the 6 (?) minute show, you left the Democracity through one of  two exits that led out onto the Observation Platform, 65 feet above the ground. After walking across this connecting bridge/platform, you passed through the Trylon twice and, making a sharp right, popped out on the Helicline. This 950 foot long, 18 foot wide gently sloping walkway provided stunning views of the fair, and in a wondrous way - placed people in the sky. It was one way all the way - by 1940 there was a sign at the end of the Helicline right near the Astronomer, telling people this was not the entrance, as at several other exhibits where there was confusion. It must have been a fabulous thing - to have people willingly think they were expected to walk 950 uphill...

 

Eric

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Eric,

Was it an escalator or an elevator in  the Trylon?  Everything I've read indicates it was "the world's longest escalator."

Jim

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Eric,

I just re-read my 1939 Guide Book which states:  "...you find yourself entering the Perisphere at its base and mounting the longest moving electric stairway in the world.  Swept upward, soundlessly, and delivered at the entrance fifty feet above the ground, you step onto one or the other of two revolving balconies...."It was, evidently, a huge escalator.  Was there a separate entrance into the Trylon?  I have aways believed that there was and that one crossed the bridge into the Perisphere.  Were there, then, elevators in the Trylon? If so, why were there two ways to get into the Perisphere--or were there?   Oddly, the Guide Book makes no mention of entering the Trylon.  But that does not explain the images of people on that bridge connecting the Trylon to the Perisphere--or have I somehow lost my mind on this topic?

Jim

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Hi Jim,

 

I just used the wrong word - escalator of course. I'm sorry for any confusion. The Guidebook is of limited value in some ways - note the whole "flash of Polaroid light" thing - which apparently never was built or used.

The entrance to the Perisphere was indeed in the base of the Trylon. No one entered the Perisphere at its base, although there was of course a fire exit. There was no separate entrance for guests in the Trylon. I need to see some photographs of the action on that bridge - but not sure two way traffic would be desirable there? The double rotating platforms - this may explain the "two ways to get into the Perisphere", but I think the two escalators both popped you out inside the Perispehere without seeing daylight again until you exited the Perisphere. The two, actually 3 exits, from Perisphere to Observation Platform, what I take to be exits (two of them at least), are IMHO from the different heights of the rotating platforms. Not sure I have seen two way traffic there - need to check images. The little GIF below and the link, which has additional better moving images from different vantages, show down and out traffic. I note this third exit - the one on the right facing the Perisphere just visible in the GIF below - I can not find anyone actually exiting it - the one on the other side (left of middle staircase) is always in use (out only) as can be seen in the other GIF's at the link provided.

tumblr_n4sw1pvcAk1qhk04bo2_400.gif

Something from Tumbler. Source linked below with additional and better GIF's.

Severl GIF's showing the movement of people on the Observation Platform from several vantages.

 

TrylonPerisphereInterior.jpg

Source of Theme Center diagram

Note the arrows and "This Way Out to Ramp".

 

Lastly, a 1930's Otis escalator ride for anyone interested.

1930's Otis Escalator Ride from YouTube

 

 

 

 

Eric :)

Edited by magikbilly
Clarity

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Eric,

Your last post explains the process very clearly.  It appears the escalators took you to one of two levels inside the Perisphere.  The only thing not really clear is where that fire exit led to.

Randy

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Hi Randy,

 

 Thanks - I am glad it was clear. I was afraid it was a jumble. The GIF's help a lot. Don't know about the fire exit - perhaps a pop-out hatch or door with a drop ladder(s), inside the ring of support columns I guess.

 

Best wishes,

                     Eric

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Hi All,

 

 I just wanted to mention that I was able to determine the sign and speakers here are later additions - perhaps not until 1940 when the sign pointing out that the entrance was in the Helicline was added, right near the base of the Trylon as people were trying to walk up the thing.

 

Eric

 

Now I am curious what was coming out of those speakers. Not the "Voice of the Perisphere" as that came from somewhere else and did not need visible speakers. Some data I wrote a long while ago re some blueprints showed the whole T&P acted as a huge speaker cone.

If indeed a 1940 feature only, one can imagine anything from some sort of verbal message about the T&P to general announcements or even dance music.

Edited by magikbilly

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Thanks, Eric. I thought I had most of it correct and your words and diagram clarify it all.  One thing I did not realize--the supporting columns for the Perisphere were "glass enclosed.:  Amazing.

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Hi Jim,

You are most welcome. One thing - I thought for some time about mentioning but decided against it - now I see I should have said it. The diagram is like the guidebook -  not w/o error (diagram is likely pre-fair as the 1st edition guidebook). The columns were not glass encased as far as I can tell - if they were I have yet to see it show.

 

 

Eric

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Eric, I did wonder about that and looked at some photographs in the Richard Wurts book last night.  Those columns did not appear to be glass encased to me.  Are you suggesting that just because something has been printed in a book or appears on television or on a website it might not be accurate?!!

Of course, this makes it possible (maybe probable) that those "loud speakers" at the top of the Perisphere were never used as such.  (Does anyone refer to these things as loud speakers today?)  I also notice that the Helicline is not labeled as such.  It's a more utilitarian "down ramp."  Pre-Fair drawings can be very interesting and highlight the evolution of ideas.

Wouldn't you love to go back for just one hour and tour the Theme Center?  I am endlessly amazed by those vanished structures.

Jim

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Hi All,

Just added a large late 1937/early 1938 rendering of what this might look like and indeed this early diagram has one escalator ending "early" and folks popping up on the Bridge and walking across to enter the Perisphere's lower ring (which we know was not end design)! Compare to the later diagram above, which shows Democracity beyond a suggestion. The later diagram above also has things that would change  - the Helicline supports are staggered left and right. As Jim said above, to see the evolution of thought with thses structures - wonderful!

 

detail escalators 1937.jpg

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The sketch reminds me of the famous Edward Carlson sketch of a tower for Seattle's Century 21 Exposition.  He drew his ideas onto a table napkin after visiting the Stuttgart Tower in Germany  in 1961 with just over a year till the Seattle Fair was scheduled to open.  Ten  months and many modifications and remarkable architectural achievements later, the elegant Space Needle, one of the truly great exposition theme centers of all time, was open to the public.  The 1964 Unisphere passed through a number of design phases and plans prior to its actual construction in 1963.

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