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The Beatles/NYWF/Shea Stadium

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Hi folks-

First of all, I just have to mention how undeniably cool it is that there are still plenty of remnants of the fair - I recently spent some time in New York on business and managed to get away for about 4 hours just to see the grounds. Here in Chicago, there are only two or three buildings left, and the fairground footprints have long since been erased.

Now, on to my question...

Since I'm 29, I don't remember the Beatles playing at Shea Stadium. However, I've seen the footage of the concert which shows them arriving via helicopter. Am I right to assume that they landed on the Port Authority helipad?

-Mike

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Welcome Mike!

Yes, the Port Authority helipad was indeed their landing place, and they then rode in a Wells Fargo armored truck over to Shea Stadium.

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Hi Mike,

I am interested in your comments about the Fairs in Chicago. I know virtually nothing remains from the Columbian other than the art building which is now the Museum of Science and Industry. Are there really any remnants of the Century of Progress at all? Are their any Chicago area museums with Century of Progress exhibits? It seemed to me as if that fair totally disappeared much like the 1939 NYWF. Can you tell me what does remain--if anything?

Jim

PS: Have you read The Devil and The White City? It is a remarkable account of the World's Columbian Exposition and the lunatic who built a hotel just outside of the grounds and preyed on his female guests.

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I recall many relics from “A Century of Progress” remain, some quite morbid. At the Museum of Science and Industry there was the diorama of a physician healing someone in bed.

The MoSI also had “The Museum’s Attic” it seems that the museum had so many things given to them that they had no room for them on their exhibit floor, so they built a glass enclosed hall through the attic of the museum. Laid out on the floor in the attic were several architect’s models of the pavilions from 1933, also on display was the Heinz Pickled Pyramid from the Fair, jars of pickled foodstuff, stacked to the ceiling in the shape of a pyramid.

If you are familiar with the layout of this museum, you will recall that there are four stairwells around the center of the building. Each stairwell has its own theme. One has a giant pendulum, one a scale model of the Golden Gate Bridge’s support tower and the third I do not recall. However, the forth one I will never forget.

In the forth stairwell, <!--coloro:darkred--><span style="color:darkred"><!--/coloro-->“The Stairwell of Death” <!--colorc--></span><!--/colorc-->(my name) there are what I always thought were paintings on glass. These paintings were of cross sections of the human body. Some side-to-side like ‘T’ bone stakes and some from toe to head.

One day I took a closer look and to my horror I discovered that incased between two layers of glass, filled with formaldehyde was some poor dark skin soul cut into quarter inch strips. In fact, many cadavers were used. They were frozen solid and then cut into so many chops on a band saw. These too were left over from the 1933 Fair.

I think they should be removed, this I shout out to everyone in the museum whenever I am in Chicago. I run up and down the stairs shouting “this is the stairwell of death” and I watch parents grab their children’s hands and flee.

There are also the many watercolor drawings of the 1933 Fair at the Historical Society. Thanks to Marty and me, these drawing were made available to the public. together we drove the workers there crazy with our unofficial tours, that they had no choice but to put them on display.

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As far as structures remaining from the '33-34 Fair, isn't there an aquarium called something like Shedd Aquarium?

And there is a big fountain- I think it's name was Buckingham Fountain- said to have been built for $700,000 for the World's Fair. Does it survive?

The Field Museum was trumpeted loudly as part of the '33-34 Fair, but might have been built in the 20's.

How about Adler Planeterium? Is it still around?

I wonder what happened to Admiral Byrd's South Pole ship "The City of New York", which docked at the Chicago World's Fair for walk-on tours?

And did the rocket cars that 'flew' across the lagoon get scrapped? Basically large cable cars, they ran on cables strung between pylons VERY high over the water between the island/isthmus and the mainland.

Of course this World's Fair was built on a strip of land that projected out in the lake and was connected by an isthmus at one end and a bridge at the other end. One of the reasons the pavilions were tore down was because they wanted to build an airport there. Eventually Miegs or Mieg? airport turned into one of the busiest small plane airports in the country but in the 90's the city announced plans to close it down. The lure of building lake front high-end housing (read: very big $$$$) was too great. Plane owners raised a big stink that it was the stupidest thing to do, but last I heard the city was winning out.

Of course after 9-11, having a private airport with "rent-a-planes" available practically at the very foot of the Sears Tower probably was the final ending of any hopes to keep an airport alive there.

The first several versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator included this airport among the scenarios. You could take off and land in a Cessna or a Learjet and cruise around the Sears Tower and other Chicago high rises (or play terrorist yourself and try for a head-on!)

Or...on landing you could pretend you were setting your Cessna down in the midway of the 1933 World's Fair...

One other interesting tidbit: it is said that bank robber John Dillinger liked to wander up and down the midway eating cotton candy and enjoying the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, even while he was on wanted posters in every Post Office in the midwest. Of course he met his end in a blazing hail of bullets as the second year of the Fair was drawing to a close...

Randy

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<!--quoteo--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE</div><div class='quotemain'><!--quotec-->PS:  Have you read The Devil and The White City?  It is a remarkable account of the World's Columbian Exposition and the lunatic who built a hotel just outside of the grounds and preyed on his female guests.<!--QuoteEnd--></div><!--QuoteEEnd-->

I was wondering when somebody here was going to bring up this book. It is FANTASTIC! Spent most of last weekend trying to put it down. It is fascinating on many levels...but especially it's highly detailed account of the building of the Columbian Expo. Everyone here should read it.

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<!--quoteo--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE</div><div class='quotemain'><!--quotec-->There are also the many watercolor drawings of the 1933 Fair at the Historical Society. Thanks to Marty and me, these drawing were made available to the public. together we drove the workers there crazy with our unofficial tours, that they had no choice but to put them on display.<!--QuoteEnd--></div><!--QuoteEEnd-->

I agree.This stuff needs to be out in the public so they can enjoy it.What good does it do to keep it locked away.

The fate of the 64/65 fair will slowly fade away with time.The reason is in time nobody will remember it.We will all be gone in a few years.It will fade away like the 39 fair.It seems to take about sixty years or so for fate to take its toll.Without the art, and the buildings its sure to fade away.

Regards,Dave

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Thank you to all who have posted above. I did realize that the Shedd Aquarium was built for the Fair and that it remains and I believe it has recently undergone a beautiful expansion. I also think that the fountain remains as well and I know that much of the lake front site of the Fair is park area. I wonder if there are any traces of the pavilions today.

I also remember the controversy over Meigs Field and, I believe, the current Mayor Daley actually had the city make furrows in the runway to prevent aircraft from taking off or landing there any more (this may have been a year or so ago). I had no idea there were models of the 1933 pavilions and I would love to see them. In Hard Times, by Studs Terkel, there is an interview with Sally Rand ("the Rand is quicker than the eye") who made her fame at the Century of Progress. She recalled she had repeatedly sought employment at the Fair (as did thousands of Chicagoans during this terrible Depression year) and found nothing. She recounts how she decided to rent a horse and ride to the Fair as Lady Godiva. She arrived at one of the gates near Soldier Field and by her own recollection: "The guard simply assumed that a naked woman on a horse was SUPPOSED to be there," and he let her enter. She became an instant mobile hit in the Midway area and by the end of the day had been offered a postion as an exotic dancer noted for her huge feathered fans and plastic bubbles. Her comments on the Fair, the difficulties of the Depression and the desperation of people to find employment are excellent reading.

I also agree with Dave's comments above. The tragedy of a Fair that leaves no permanent structural legacies is that it becomes relegated to photographic images alone. Scholars will continue to study those images but the impact of that fair will slowly fade into history.

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<!--quoteo--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE</div><div class='quotemain'><!--quotec-->I wonder what happened to Admiral Byrd's South Pole ship "The City of New York", which docked at the Chicago World's Fair for walk-on tours?<!--QuoteEnd--></div><!--QuoteEEnd-->

After a very long career, it sunk in 1962. A good run-down:

<a href="http://www.hazegray.org/features/cityofny/" target="_blank">http://www.hazegray.org/features/cityofny/</a>

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To see a remarkable panorama photograph of the Century of Progress, go to this site:

<a href="http://hometown.aol.com/chicfair/" target="_blank">http://hometown.aol.com/chicfair/</a>

There is a link at the bottom of this brief account of the Fair that will take you to the photograph--and it is awesome. There is a very clear image of Admiral Byrd's ship. It was not far from the Belgian Village.

The more I look at photographs and read about this Fair, I realize it was an incredibly good Fair.

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You have got to look at the panorama:

<a href=" 6a28300r.jpg" target="_blank">http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pnp/pan/6a28000/6a28...00/6a28300r.jpg</a>

The Belgian Village at that fair looks just like the 64-65 version! They must have used the same plans, lock, stock and barrel.

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When they made postcards of the Belgian Village for the '33-34 Fair, they chose some of the same angles that Dexter chose for THEIR postcards in '64-65- views through arches and doorways for instance. I had noticed before how similar those views look.

I had not taken a step back and looked at the overall "map" layout though- so I wasn't aware of the 'big picture' similarities.

Randy

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The Belgium Village at the 1933 Fair was exactly like the one at the New York Fair, the only difference was the elevations of some of the buildings. City Hall was raised at the New York Fair to allow a balcony and two grand sets of stairs to be added. Other parts of the village were landscaped to include hills, making the village feel natural.

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Wow, thanks for all the responses! I've been sans computer lately, so this is the first chance I've had to catch up on it all.

First off, regarding The Beatles and the Fair - in the Anthology book, George Harrison indeed mentions landing "on the roof of the World's Fair" and being driven to Shea from there. What a time that must have been!

The Museum of Science and Industry here in Chicago was, as Jim stated, actually built for the 1898 Worlds Fair (the Ferris Wheel one, where University of Chicago is now) and abandoned shortly thereafter. There are some really interesting photos of the building just before it was renovated into the museum; it was really close to being demolished. Sounds like the NYS Pavillion, doesn't it?

The Shedd Aquarium, Buckingham Fountain and the Field Museum were all built in the late '20s, and the Adler Planetarium was built in 1930. It still exists in all its glory (despite some recent renovation efforts), and Buckingham Fountain was just restored a couple of years ago.

The basic footprint for the Century of Progress is still there - the harbor where Meigs Field is/was still looks pretty much the same, and the midway for the 1898 fair is still there, too.

And Devil & White City! Amazing!

-Mike

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Mike, you are welcome, we are a happy bunch who enjoy sharing information. However, I have to correct both of us.

The statement about the two staircases at the Belgium Village was from memory. After looking at photos, I now know that it was one very wide group of steps that brought you to the door of City Hall. This was done, so the rathskeller could be built under the building.

Now for you, the Columbian Exposition was planned to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus coming to the new world, plans for the expo ran behind schedule and the fair opened a year later in 1893.

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You know, for some reason my hand wants to type 1898 instead of 1893 for some reason! Thanks for the correction!

And Mike, Navy Pier was built around 1915 and was originally called Municipal Pier - most of it was originally warehouses, but there's a ballroom at the end that they saved when it was recently turned into a tourist-trap amusement park-type thing. When I was a lad, there was a WWII submarine (USS Silversides, perhaps?) docked there that you could tour.

By the way, I'm coming back to New York next month for a week of work-related garbage, but I'm planning on hitting the Fairground at least once before I leave. Is Rocket Park back in place? Is there anything left of the signage, etc., or was it removed when they dismantled the rockets?

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Quick note:

I believe the 1966 Beatles concert which I attended did not use the Port Authority building and a helicopter to deliver the Beatles to Shea.

I remember many hundreds of people flocked to the outer ramps of the stadium (my family too) to watch the amored car hit the highways for its departure from the area.

Does anyone know if the Port Authority and the heiport was in use at all after 1965, specifically 1966? I would think all areas in the park had limitied useduring demolition and reconstruction.

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Hi Mike!

The 1893 Ferris Wheel actually took a little trip. It ended up as an attraction on the north side of Chicago shortly after the close of the Columbian and it operated there for several years but I am not sure of the exact location. It was moved to St. Louis for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition where it operated during the course of that world's fair. It was destroyed after the fair closed and parts of the steel structure were, evidently, used to build a bridge in or near St. Louis which remains to this day.

Footnote: Jackson Park in Chicago, the site of the Columbian, has a bit of a spooky history. Of course, notorious serial killer HH Holmes built his hotel/house of horros just outside of the fairgrounds. The actual street address is in The Devil In The White City and I believe it remains a vacant lot today and appears as something of a tourist site in the book, Haunted Chicago.

Secondly, at the time of the infamous Loeb/Leopold case in the early 1920's, those two creepy killers of fourteen year old Bobby Franks lived (along with their victim) in the Hyde Park section of Chicago, quite near to Jackson Park and near the University of Chicago (and the Midway). All three attended the Harvard School For Boys in that area. In any event, following the kidnapping and murder of Bobby Franks by Loeb and Leopold (who were 17 and 18 respectively) they wrote a ransom note to the boy's parents and then tried to destroy the typewriter and they tossed it into one of Columbian lagoons in Jackson Park where the police eventually found it. Young Bobby Franks was buried in a cemetery right near Jackson Park.

As I said--creepy stuff.

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Here is more on the Shea and Forest Hills concerts

<a href="http://www.astorialic.org/starjournal/1960s/1964august.shtm" target="_blank">http://www.astorialic.org/starjournal/1960s/1964august.shtm</a>

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Part of my most recent fascination with the 64 Worlds Fair not only has to do with the urgent situation of saving the New York State Pavilion but, being a huge Mets fan, a huge Beatles fan and a huge girl groups fan, and having older brothers and sisters I lived the 60's vicariously through, it seems to me that northern Queens was absolutely rockin in 1965 with the Mets at their new blue & orange home, the brave new world at the Worlds Fair (in vivid technicolor!!!!), the Beatles at Shea that August (which after an email to the Mets, I am shocked they have nothing planned to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of that concert. it basically ushered in the modern rock era!), plus you have the Shangri-La's busting out of their native Queens that year. A lot of synergy for sure!

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You saw the '66 show?!?! I would love to find some sort of footage of that! You always see '65 but '66 is played down because:

1) Lennon's Jesus comments were causing a chill factor on Beatlemania, plus the little girls had replaced the Beatles with Herman's Hermits. The show was 10,000 short a sell out with CBS News asking "Is this the end of the Beatles?"

2) Apparently the Beatles were so stoned during that tour that when George Harrison is asked about that show, he replies "I don't remember going there a second time." Although Ringo does remember the less than sellout attendance. There is also footage of a cheeky, impromptu press conference in the dressing room with Lennon saying "People have the right not to like us and we have the right to have nothing to do with them."

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Don't forget Simon & Garfunkle... from Queens, too.

Plus they did your namesake song "The Only Living Boy in New York"!

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