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George Fogel

The Federal Pavilions movie ride

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I listened to Ray's fantastic audio recording of the US Pavilion's movie ride last night. This was the first time I had heard it since I last rode the attraction some 35 years ago... (unlike the Carousel of Progress or the Dupont Show, which I'd seen versions of over the past few years).

I must say that I was impressed by the scope and depth of the presentation. It seemed that the entire presentation was more literate than similar presentations ("The American Adventure" at Epcot which covers some of the same material comes to mind). It was not a mindless, jingoistic celebration of all things American; the narration pointed out that our material progress came at the expense of the environment, and in discussing immigration it mentioned that fully a third of immigrants who arrived by the end of the 19th century did so in some condition of involuntary servitude ranging from indentured servants to outright slaves.

I posted a similar message after I listened to the IBM presentation...in both cases the high level of the presentations surprised and impressed me. It's not my faulty memory or the hazy glow of childhood: much of this stuff WAS good!

The other thought I had was that this attraction did not get the same kind of recognition that GM's and Ford's rides did, and that I've never seen any documentation on it. Has anyone seen any photographs or descriptions of the ride? I'd love to see again some of the amazing moving screens that were used, along with the moving grandstands.... What a terrific presentation!!

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George, I'd also like to find some pictures of the interior of the pavilion. I've never run across any. I have never even seen a picture of the moving grandstands that were used. Since the presentation was shown on moving movie screens, I can understand that it would have been difficult to photgraph the ride, but it seems odd that there are no pictures of even the ride itself.

I've rarely even seen pictures of any of the exhibits in the Federal Pavilion. There must be some documentation of it somewhere. I know that Final Reports were issued for US Participation in Seattle and Spokane. But a visitor has reported that there seems to be no listing for such a report in the Library of Congress for the US Participation in New York.

I've asked before and I'll ask again. If anyone out there has any pictures of the interior of the Federal Pavilion, PLEASE, send them my way. They will certainly find their way into the Feature Site on the Federal Pavilion.

Bill

nywf64.com

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Interesting about the US pavilion. There is a wealth of information and old pictures that have popped up on this site. However, the only photos I've seen are Philip Buehler's. Though I was in the ruined building several times in the 70's; I never had a camera. Have to look into various sources and see if there's anything out there. I think I have pictures on old postcards stored away, but I don't think they show the interior

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I need a point of clarification, was the ride at the US Pavilion operating the first year? It seems to me that no publicity was given to the ride. I had been to the pavilion many times the first year and it wasn’t until the second year that I discovered the ride on the second floor. Boy was that a moment, it was so out of scale. It gave me the sense all at once of 'The Forbidden Planet' and an open-air subway car. There was peg-like Lucite lights protruding down in the staging area where you boarded the grandstand. I'm not sure how many of these immense bleachers there were. It was spooky to think of them skulking through the dark like rolling monsters. Let me add that there were props use with the slides and film. I recall the sand and the cactus in a corner as I study the mechanics of the grandstand navigating the turns.

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So far as I can remember, the ride operated during both seasons. And yes, the lumbering grandstands were quite amazing, especially as they interacted with the various screens.

I remember a few props as well (my best recollection is of an old plow).

The closest thing to the feeling of riding those grandstands that still exists is the "Universe of Energy" ride at Epcot (actually, I think it was renamed "Ellen's Energy Adventure" when the show was reworked a few years ago).

For those unfamiliar with this ride, the audience is seated in a large auditorium and watches an introductory film as the seats separate into ride vehicles and begin their journey through the pavilion. They reconstitute into a single auditorium full of seats at the end of the presentation.

A major difference between the two is that the Epcot ride vehicles are all flat...ie, the seats are all on the same level. The Federal ride used grandstands offering what is now referred to in movie theaters as "stadium seating".

I received an e-mail from Ray Dashner describing the interior of the Federal Building and ride more specifically than I had remembered. As I now recall (thanks to Ray's e-mail) the interior of the ride was pretty much a warehouse looking structure, mostly in the dark. The images were projected on all kinds and shapes of screens (with an occasional prop on the floor)..and the screens sometimes moved away from the grandstands as they passed by...

I wonder who designed the ride, wrote the narration, etc. It was definitely a high point of the Fair for me.

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Let me add that it appeared to have no track. From what I can remember there was a guide rail (maybe a power source) that ran along the right side of the grand stand. As George mentioned it was, as you can guess very boxy like a warehouse. The floor was a smooth dark surface maybe dark painted cement. That’s what surprised me, growing up making many trips to Coney Island 'fun houses' I looked for things like tracks. As I said there were none and the grandstands rolled on pneumatic tires. I don’t recall the grandstands joining. I remember them pulling up one by one like a taxi queue. I am not saying they didn’t join. Just that I don’t remember them doing that. I now remember the screens that would roll away just in time as the grandstand approached.

What we all are saying is that for a major attraction very little was recorded or available to the collector. I had one piece, a brochure from the US Pavilion and that I obtained only after the fair closed.

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If the ride system was anything like that used by Disney in the Universe of Energy (Also the Great Movie Ride) The vehicles are guided by a wire under the surface of the floor.

Danny the Dragon at Freedomland was also guided by a similar system.

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As a point of clarification: the grandstands in the Federal pavilion's ride did NOT join together the way Epcot's Energy vehicles do. (I probably should have chosen the vehicles in the Great Movie Ride as a better example since those don't ever form a single auditorium either.) Also, the Disney vehicles are all flat (as best as I can remember) and not the stadium seating style.

Now, 2 other things:

1. Danny the Dragon!!! Wow, what a memory. I ignored the warning signs and got my finger stuck between two cars in that ride...even got a trip to the park's infirmary out of that.

2. Does everyone know that you can review all the posts in a given thread while you are composing your response? Scroll down to the bottom of the posting page and you'll find a window, you can scroll down that window to see the entire thead. Neat, huh?

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<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by George Fogel:

2. Does everyone know that you can review all the posts in a given thread while you are composing your response? Scroll down to the bottom of the posting page and you'll find a window, you can scroll down that window to see the entire thead. Neat, huh?<HR></blockquote>

I wanted to add to George's message above. If you ever feel the need to requote someone's message from a previous quote -- notice that above each message is a series of icons. The small icon farthest to the right (it looks like a letter with a red arrow coming out of it pointing to the right) allows you to post with a quote. This feature will bring up the screen for you to post your reply, and it will also copy the entire message into your Reply box so that you can refer to it in your response.

Kind of a neat feature. Especially for Hoodlock's Quizzes -- you can copy the quiz in and answer the questions at the same time!

That's how I did this reply. The quote in bold that preceeds this message was brougt into my reply window when I clicked-on that "Post with Reply" icon!

Bill

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<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Bill Young:

That's how I did this reply. The quote in bold that preceeds this message was brougt into my reply window when I clicked-on that "Post with Reply" icon!

Bill

<HR></blockquote>

Like this Bill?

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Boy, you guys are right about the lack of documentation on this pav. I think I have 2 items, max, on it. frown.gif You'd think it was the most obscure exhibit of the Fair!

Ironic, too, considering how the Feds drown everything else in paperwork. rolleyes.gif

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This is really discouraging. Here I come across the greatest motherload of World's Fair enthusiasts and collectors since 1989, only to find out that there's nothing on this building but a few crummy brochures. So that means that I will have to rely on "eye-witness accounts" when developing the Feature Site for this pavilion. And I do plan on doing that before the year is up.

When I first started collecting, I wrote to the Feds or the architects and I've got some nice B&W pics of the pavilion and the courtyard. But I've always been disappointed that I've never seen interior shots.

Marc has the Pavilion Guide in detail on the Federal Pavilion page at NYWF: Your Ticket to the Fair if anyone wants to check that out. On the floor with the ride, there is a drawing of the moving grandstands. This brochure is TERRIBLE (not Marc's scans -- the actual brochure) and not worthy of what the US could produce.

There is one interior shot that I've seen. It is in the April 1965 edition of National Geographic and shows one of the Space Probes hanging from the ceiling. You get the idea that this is a huge, cavernous building that is painted black inside and the exhibits are separated by black curtains.

I do wish we could find a picture of the Grandstands. Was this the first time anyone used this idea for a ride? I wasn't familiar with Marc/George's Disney Ride posting and didn't know if that came before or after the Federal Pavilion.

Mike, I know you are friends with a certain well known collector. When you talk with him again, could you get his ideas on this and see if he can photocopy something from his collection. It'd probably be the first time many of us have seen these since '65 (the very first time for some of us).

Bill

nywf64.com

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Yep, until these recent postings, I had no idea the US pav. was so cool! Another regretable miss.

I have about 25 slides of it, but mostly underneath (square-dances!!) and in the "courtyard". The closest I get to the guts is the entrance to the "Exhibit Hall of the Great Society". (Hey, folkes, if you didn't know already, this was a stunningly "modern" and dramatic building!!)

The big problem with these "dark" exhibits is that hand-held photography was impossible with the slow film stocks of those days. A tripod/time-exposure setup was always problematic, also. So the only hope for images of these exhibits is usually press/professional stuff.

I'll check with "deep throat", Bill.

BTW, "Remembering the Future" lists 135 screens on the US ride! WOW!!

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Totally agree..The USA Pavilion's ride was one of the most patriotic and stunning shows at the World's Fair...I believe it was the very best our nation has done at any World's Fair since (and that includes the stunning dome at Montreal!).

Do you think the USIA (or whatever government agency organized it) would have the entire script, or photos of that unforgettable ride??

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Gary, I wrote years ago to the agency that built it -- don't remember off-hand -- back in the early 70s. I got next to nothing from them. I think I actually got more by requesting information from the architects. But that was how I got exterior shots, not interior.

Interior shots are very scarce I'm finding out.

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FWIW, there is an interior photo consisting simply of "Venus Space Probe in the U.S. Pavilion" on reel three of Sawyer's View-Master "Federal and State Area" packet. The image is number 20.

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The U.S. Pavilion apparently gave out a one-page brochure depicting both floors of the exhibit, including the ride. The artwork is line drawing, so there is not much detail, but I scanned it in anyway and sent it to Bill, who perhaps will post it for everyone.

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You can find a web version of the guide to the <a href="http://www.expoarchive.com/6465/fedstate/us/index.html" target="_blank">US Pavilion</a> at NYWF: Your Ticket to the Fair.

[This message has been edited by Marc Williams (edited 09-13-2000).]

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I like the drawings. The ship pictured is starting to come into focus. There are some photographs of the interior of the US Pavilion. You will find them in either Life Magazine or National Geographic published during the fair years. I remember the wall of people in Life. By the way, the Hall of Presidents opened for the 1965 season.

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I think it's easy to understand why there is so little on such a major exhibit. Unlike private companies who saw the Fair as an opportunity to market their companies, promoting the U.S. Pavilion at a domestic event probably just wasn't in the government mindset in '64/'65.

Robert Moses was critical of the exhibit as being too concerned with the "challenge and not enough on the greatness". What changes were made for '65?

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Regarding the interior of the US Pavilion. my recollection is that the public would have had a very limited opportunity to photograph anything that would be considered remarkable. When you entered the theater that showed the film about immigration, you were seated on a plain wooden bench that spanned the width of the theater. The screen was a white rectangle before you. As you waited for the film to begin, Sousa marches played through the loudspeakers. Nothing here to photograph.

Upon exiting the theater, you were channeled along a ramp leading to the loading area for the ride ahead. In front of you, the previous crowd that left the theater stood before you blocking the view of the grandstand that they were boarding. You had no idea what the grandstand looked like until it was your turn to enter and be seated. No chance to take a picture of the grandstand itself.

You were then hearing the slamming of each metal entrance door by the attendants as each row was filled. You looked around to find something interesting, but you saw the bland interior of a cavernous warehouse.

During the ride, you could capture very little on film since the majority of the visual presentation was projected on screens that could not be photographed as you rode by.

The interior of the US pavilion was a bare bones structure with no genuine artistic intent. It functioned only as a shell to conduct the ride through it. I do not recollect a gift shop selling anything to the

public such as collectibles, postcards, etc.

My impression of the exhibit was that is was a bare bones building, with a greenish blue plastic exterior that could not possibly become a permanent structure. No one wanted it in the long term, so eventually it was torn down after the vandals had their day.

Ray

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I was just reading "New York 1960" and they discuss the Federal Pavilion ride:

"Fairgoers boarded a fifty-five seat grandstand "wagon" to ride throught a 1,200 foot tunnel lined with more than 100 movie screens of various shapes and sizes on which they could view a film presentation, produced by Jeremy Lepard of Cinerama, depicting watersheds in American History."

[This message has been edited by Elizabeth Klug (edited 09-18-2000).]

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