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Bill Cotter

Looking back one last time?

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The Fair had closed for good shortly before this shot was taken. The turnstiles are gone, the Brass Rail is deflated, and workers are starting to chip away at the RCA pavilion. Sad times in FCMP for sure.

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I remember feeling a combination of sadness and puzzlement. At 8 yrs old I could not understand why they had to take all those spectacular space age buildings down. They looked right out of the sci fi tv and movies I was watching. Close the Fair, sure, but destroy everything? Seemed almost spiteful. 

What might’ve added insult to injury was leaving the sweeping entranceway intact. You could still take the train and get off at the elevated prospect and your eye follow the plaza ramps pictured down and delivering you to... nothing. 

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I just re-read The Devil In The White City.  Those mammoth buildings at the Columbian began their inexorable decline and decay within weeks of the closing of the World's Fair.  They were as temporary as could be (most exteriors were staff construction) and showing serious signs of wear by October of 1893 before the Fair closed.  Add to this the plight of tens of thousands of Chicago workers who began to use the Columbian buildings as living space as the Panic of 1893 deepened and cold weather and hunger gave them no other options.  Even the great architect, Daniel Burnham, believed a quick end to the buildings was preferable to slow decay.  Fires broke out, probably accident, in the late autumn of 1893 destroying the Peristyle and part of the Court of Honor and then in the early winter of 1894, a massive fire destroyed many of the massive structures surrounding the Court and hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans watched their White City go up in flames.  Years later, Daniel Burnham advocated for wiser building construction and better use of resources as to avoid so much waste.  But he did not regret the fire because he feared the slow destruction that was inevitable once the crowds were long gone.

It appears this is the way it has been with the great world's fairs.  They exist for a moment in time and then they're gone.  That happened twice in Flushing Meadow.

 

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Most poignant thing to me is realizing that thing is a deflated Brass Rail.

I notice the RCA sign lettering is gone. I wonder if some of the employees took them as souvenirs.

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