Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Bill Cotter

What if you threw a party and nobody came?

Recommended Posts

That's what the Fair organizers must have been asking themselves some days. This was taken in May 1964. It's not just after the gates opened, as it's fairly far into the roll and the photographer had taken some other shots before he/she got on the Skyway.

main-mall-may-64.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's May and the trees are totally bare.  It had to be very early in May.  In any event, that's a great photo but that's one big, vast empty.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One man’s ceiling, another’s floor. 

Days like that meant I had Futurama on continuous loop and pwned the Chrysler quiz, walking away with multiple turbine car model prizes. No elbowing to see the SKF ball bearings bounce or for the driver’s seat in a Mustang.

Although I do recall even at 7-8 years old, one day (Dad took me so it had to be a weekend) in particular in front of NCR, looking out at the empty space between the few people strolling by and grasping in my young mind the shaky feel of something being wrong with that picture. Desolate.

I remember the same thing at Palisades, having the run of the Fun House on a beautiful day. Nice, but, Where is everybody?

Like the foreboding cowboy remark, “Yeah. TOO quiet.”

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If this was a weekday the majority of people would be at work or school.May was too early for most people to be on vacation or off from school. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a test. This is only a test. If this had been a real World's Fair day...

 

By the way, other than being slightly tilted, this is the perfect moment of exposure for its symmetry, and I also like the fact that it's aimed just high enough that the flags aren't cut off.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, waynebretl said:

This is a test. This is only a test. If this had been a real World's Fair day...

 

By the way, other than being slightly tilted, this is the perfect moment of exposure for its symmetry, and I also like the fact that it's aimed just high enough that the flags aren't cut off.

I could have straightened it out but didn't want to lose any of it. especially the symmetry, so glad you enjoyed that aspect!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As Expo 2000 in Hannover came to a close, Time ran an article with exactly this headline.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Bill Cotter said:

I could have straightened it out but didn't want to lose any of it. especially the symmetry, so glad you enjoyed that aspect!

How about a little perspective warp, which only loses some sky in the upper right?

perspective.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not so sure the possibility that this photograph was snapped on a weekday explains the lack of people.  Each season averaged 25 million visitors.  That's 180 days and averages to about 138,000 per day.  Of course, that number didn't appear every day, but 50 to 60,000 was a fairly typical day with larger numbers on weekends, probably, and holidays.  The Fair sold itself as a vacation destination, a once-in-a-lifetime event. Hundreds of thousands must have filled NYC hotel rooms, including weekdays, to visit the place.  I'd like a nickel for the number of people who have posted here who said that they cut school to see the Fair, or visited with school groups.  Either way, they got there no matter what and regardless of the day of the week.

We all know that the Fair just didn't live up to its own hype.  Expecting 70 million, just over 50 million visited with about three million finally deciding to show up in the final two weeks.  That's still a lot of visitors.  But compare a photo like this to a typical any day of the week Expo 67 photo.  

No clue why this looks like a pre-opening post card shot.  You could fit the number of visible souls in this photo into a telephone booth.  It helps to explain why attendance fell so short of predictions but it doesn't explain why more people didn't check out the place for themselves.  It's a very inviting scene. What's not to like about the Fair?  Where were all this expected visitors?  We'll never know.  I know I would have been there more often than two days if it had been possible for me to do so.  But I was 13 and lived 250 miles away.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is still morning. I think you would need detailed daily and hourly admission numbers to figure out some of these shots. How likely was it for out-of-towners (or New Yorkers, for that matter) to get from their hotels  and homes wherever to the Fair at opening time?

I wish I had kept a diary. This was my first big trip alone, and I toured other attractions like the United Nations, Empire state (I'm pretty sure), and maybe the Statue of Liberty (can't recall - that could have been another trip). As a result, I can't remember how many days out of 6 (?) I spent at the fair (maybe 3?).  Also, I have no recollection of how early I arrived. I know I got lost for a while on the subway the first day (coming from the Sloane YMCA on 34th street in Manhattan).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How do we know that it is morning?  The pavilions opened at ten AM generally speaking.  I have no idea why it's so empty.  I'm speculating, of course.  Regardless, the place is empty and therein lay the Fair's main problem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, Jim said:

How do we know that it is morning?  

By the shadow of the Rocket Thrower.

Rocket Thrower.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bill, is May the process date or a known exposure date? 

Trying to estimate from the Rocket Thrower shadow and plotting it on Google Earth (43.5 feet at 295 degrees) and the published Rocket Thrower height (43 feet), I come up with a date and time of 10:08 am EDT, April 25. 

To give an idea of the possible error: If the shadow is actually 42 feet long rather than 43.5 (or the published height is similarly wrong, or does not include the pedestal), the date and time come out to April 27 at 10:10 am. The 25th was the first Saturday after opening, and the 27th was the first Monday. 

10:08 to 10:10 am: Is it possible from the preceding pictures on the roll that the photographer got on the skyride this quickly? This might explain why so few people had gotten to the Fountains of the Fair area. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok - help - I can't find what time the grounds opened in the morning.

Edit - dug out the guidebook - gates open 9 am, most exhibits 10 am, a few at 9 am.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×