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tomjoines

I worked at the NY World's Fair at the GM Pavilion 1964-65

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I worked at the NY World's Fair in 1964 & 65 at the GM pavilion. Each day all of the employees would rotate around for different job sites. One day I may escort VIP's to a special lounge at the pavillion , one day I may walk the treadmill on the approach to the Futurerama ride by helping the visitors to their seats or helping them exit at the end of the ride, whatever the job was, it was different and exciting everyday.

I worked for Allied Maintenance and Pinkerton before the fair opened to get everything ready. This was a job for me to earn money to go back to college every year in North Carolina ( which is where I grew up) . This was also my first trip to NYC and it was quite a culture shock !! What a fantastic experience this was, NYC and the great World's Fair !! An experience that I will never forget !!

Tom Joines

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Welcome to the board! The GM pavilion was the largest I think and there are many including myself who are very interested in all aspects of the pavilion including construction, dioramas, concept cars, behind the scenes, and if anything survived the demolition. A few model cars have popped up on Ebay once in a while. One thing that seems to be lost when looking at photos of the dioramas is how large they actually were, I believe in 1/24 scale. And, the concept cars were used in the film 2001. Do you have any photos or anything else you can share? No photos exist of the VIP lounge.

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I hope you keep posting.  We would all enjoy hearing of your experiences and your memories of GM and the Fair.

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Tom,

Tell us about the legend of the mystery basement in the GM building. 

Did it really exist, what was it used for and if so, was it built for the purpose of providing a place for demolition rubble to be buried, rather than haul it off site. 

It's interesting to think that a large portion of the pavilion may still be there just below ground.  This is an idea many on this board have discussed in years past.

Do you have any construction or demolition photos with evidence of this building's design?

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We know that the Futurama II ride descended into the basement.  We have this map and track elevation diagrams.

 

Futurama_booklet-map.jpg

Futurama II track perspective drawing.jpg

Basement walls are visible in this 1963 construction photo.

086-025 - General Motors under construction.jpg

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Hi Tom,

Glad you found us!

Futurama was the most important thing in my 7 years of life and years after. My dad worked nearby near that green tower. Went to fair many times. 

Where did you live while working there?

Please don’t be overwhelmed by our questions. Futurama is popular here and we’d be grateful for any recollections you have. 

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Randy,

I remember discussions here years ago where we were made aware of the basement and your photo is most interesting.

But, the big question remains - is the basement still there and filled with the pavilion's demolition debris?

Our members once questioned the idea that the basement had this dual purpose of both accommodating a portion of the ride and acting as an easy place the bury the pavilion's remains at the end of the fair, thus saving the cost of hauling material off site.

As the fair demotion clause only required removal of pavilions to a relatively shallow depth, and GM's basement was far deeper, could it have survived as a debris vault?  What's the true answer here?

There had to be a good reason why GM chose to build this basement, since it would have been far cheaper to utilize above ground construction as all the others did, with the exception of the Underground Home of course.

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Of course, it could simply be that GM and the architect agreed on what the above ground profile would be, and just ate the cost of expanding downward for volume. But debris dumping still could be a secondary selling point.

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When we're talking about debris here, what do we mean?  All of the steel, wiring and glass would likely have been recycled or reused wouldn't it? Even in the wasteful Sixties that would have had some value beyond debris.  So that leaves concrete, cement blocks etc., right?  I mean, nobody expects to find the Futurama ride parts or thousands of "I Have Seen The Future" tags buried there do they? 

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5 hours ago, Jim said:

When we're talking about debris here, what do we mean?  All of the steel, wiring and glass would likely have been recycled or reused wouldn't it? Even in the wasteful Sixties that would have had some value beyond debris.  So that leaves concrete, cement blocks etc., right?  I mean, nobody expects to find the Futurama ride parts or thousands of "I Have Seen The Future" tags buried there do they? 

*Grabs shovel and flashlight* 

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We do have some demolition photos- I saw one day before yesterday dated May 1966 that had all the surface panels removed from the steel framework.  But we've never attempted to assemble them in chronological order to figure out how they took it down.  The pictures that I recall point to more of a dismantling operation, as opposed to a wrecking ball or dynamite approach.

I'm laid up in the hospital right now- had a 9 hour surgery yesterday- so don't have access to my computer where the pictures are stored.  I know we don't have any pictures showing when they got down to basement / foundation level.  But the photos seem to indicate they were hauling it off as they proceeded with the dismantling; there are no massive debris piles.

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Fortunately, the General Motors Pavilion was saved from demolition and became the home of Venture Industries.

mf840.jpg

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9 hours ago, stig said:

Fortunately, the General Motors Pavilion was saved from demolition and became the home of Venture Industries.

mf840.jpg

Nice! Where is this from?

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It's a cartoon series that shows up late night on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0417373/?ref_=nv_sr_1

The show started as a parody of jet-age adventure series like Johnny Quest, so the Futurama-like appearance is intentional.  I believe the sculpture to the right is intended to look like the Atomium from Brussels Expo 1958

I started watching the show before I became interested in the NYWF, and I practically fell out of my chair the first time I saw a picture of Futurama II.  In fact, the show (along with my first visit to Disney World since childhood) actually helped spark an interest in mid-century futurism that brought me to this forum.

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21 hours ago, speedwell said:

It's a cartoon series that shows up late night on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0417373/?ref_=nv_sr_1

The show started as a parody of jet-age adventure series like Johnny Quest, so the Futurama-like appearance is intentional.  I believe the sculpture to the right is intended to look like the Atomium from Brussels Expo 1958

I started watching the show before I became interested in the NYWF, and I practically fell out of my chair the first time I saw a picture of Futurama II.  In fact, the show (along with my first visit to Disney World since childhood) actually helped spark an interest in mid-century futurism that brought me to this forum.

Same here, speedwell. It's practically the same path, minus this show, that led me here.

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Let me address how demolition of this and most of the other large industrial exhibits would have gone.

1) Prior to the close of the fair, a select number of demolition firms with extensive experience demolishing building of this size would have toured the building with representatives of the exhibitors facilities people to determine what the exhibitor would not be removing prior to turning the building over to the demolition contractor. They would also review the construction plans and specs to determine any unusual challenges to the demolition and obtain figures for recoverable materials such as air conditioning equipment, lighting fixtures, pipes, wiring, steel, etc.

2) The exhibitor would receive each contractor's bids and typically sign a contract based on the lowest bid. The contract would be net of the recoverable materials value, which would become the property of the demolition contractor unless specifically excluded from the contract.

3) After the fair closed, the exhibitor would remove all of the items they excluded from the demolition contract. For example, they may have decided to reuse the office furniture, sell it on their own, or donate it. In the case of the GM pavilion, someone reported that GM removed their automobiles and trucks from the pavilion and simply turned building and the rest of its contents over to the demolition contractor.

4) Once the demolition contractor took possession of the building, then it was theirs to do with as they wished provided they cleared the entire site in compliance with the Rules and Regulations of the Fair Corporation.

5) The demolition contractor would then methodically proceed to strip the interior of the building of everything salvageable that was not nailed down before they proceeded to strip the building of everything that was nailed down, since their bid was based on being able to recover and sell as much of these materials as possible. In the case of the GM pavilion, someone reported that the models were broken up and thrown out by the demolition contractor (although some small pieces of the model have surfaced over the years). During this part of the demolition, the interior of the building would have been kept clean for safety reasons or the management of the contractor would hear from the union reps that unsafe conditions existed on the job site. If safety violations were not promptly corrected the job could be shutdown.

6) Materials that could not be recovered would be demolished and carted away. This would include carpeting, ceramic tiles, sheetrock walls, etc. that couldn't be removed without damaging it or was simply worn out because it showed the wear of millions of guests having used it.

7) Once the interior was stripped bare of all of the fixtures, ceilings, walls and floors, then the really heavy work of dismantling the steel super structure would begin until they reached the ground and basement levels of the site.

8) Once the super structure was removed, then the Fair Corporation rules required that the floor of the cellar be broken up provided it was more than 4 feet below finished grade. Per the attached page from the Fair Corporations Rules & Regulations, Demolition of Structures and Buildings section, they were very specific as to what was acceptable fill for the site. If these requirements were not followed, the Fair Corps. engineering staff would cite the contractor. If they still didn't comply, the Fair Corporations counsel would have contacted the exhibitor to complain since the demolition contract between the exhibitor and the demolition contractor certainly would have covered such a situation. If this didn't resolve the matter, then the Fair Corp. could have filed a claim against the performance bond posted with them. If none of these actions were successful, then the Fair Corporation would have the option to sue the various parties (which we know for a fact was why the Fair Corporations business wasn't wound up until early 1972).

9) From a practical sense, the basement could simply not have been left intact and filled with debris. If it had, then in the intervening years after the demolition was completed the site would have filled up with water (basically becoming a very large swimming pool filled with debris and dirt) and turned the site into a swamp as the more porous items decomposed after being submerged for such a long period of time.

Demo Rules and Regs.doc

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Thank you, Craig.  Yours is one of the most thorough and informative posts I've ever seen on this site.  It clearly addresses many, many questions and resolves many myths.

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Great post, Craig.

But with all these regulations and stipulations, did this really occur, or did someone pay others off to look the other way and take shortcuts?

As we know, money at the end of the fair was tight and it seemed no one was inclined to spend any more than the absolute minimum.  They just wanted the job to be finished as quickly as possible for the least cost.

One question I have regarding your post.  You stated that the floor of the cellar be broken up provided it was more than 4 feet BELOW finished grade.  Did you mean to say breakup was only required it it was within 4 feet of grade, not at 4 feet or more in depth?  Below 4 feet, what difference would it have made if footings and foundations were left intact? 

As an example of foundations being abandoned below grade, look at how the submerged footings for the monorail towers have poked upwards as the ground subsided in the lake area.

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It makes sense that they'd want anything even deeper than four feet * broken up* even if not removed, to prevent water pooling.  Remember, the former marshland is still mostly a moving underground aquifer today, and any underground pooling can result in above-ground flooding.

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On 1/27/2018 at 12:34 PM, speedwell said:

It's a cartoon series that shows up late night on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0417373/?ref_=nv_sr_1

The show started as a parody of jet-age adventure series like Johnny Quest, so the Futurama-like appearance is intentional.  I believe the sculpture to the right is intended to look like the Atomium from Brussels Expo 1958

I started watching the show before I became interested in the NYWF, and I practically fell out of my chair the first time I saw a picture of Futurama II.  In fact, the show (along with my first visit to Disney World since childhood) actually helped spark an interest in mid-century futurism that brought me to this forum.

Yes.  The Venture Brothers.  It's hysterically funny.  Especially if you're old enough to get all the pop culture references.

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The length of time since the poster's post last week, the poster hasn't posted again.

Is it possible we've been trolled?

What's too long for a reply? Like you get about a year maybe to watch the latest movies, does one apply for posts?

I ask because I am excited about the subject, just disappointed in the lack of a reply after all our excitement.

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1 hour ago, icedstitch said:

What's too long for a reply?

The OP posted statements, no questions, and didn't appear to be looking for any type of response. So it is possible he has no idea anyone responded, and expected more, especially if he didn't hit the "Notify me of replies' button.

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