Tag Archives: World’s Fair

Former 1964 World’s Fair office building set for upgrade


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy NYC Department of Parks and Recreation


Recent talks of upgrading World’s Fair relics seem to focus on the New York State Pavilion.

But the Olmsted Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which was constructed in 1964 and used as temporary offices for Robert Moses and the World’s Fair Corporation staff during the colossal event, is also getting a makeover.

The Parks Department announced Aug. 4 that it is collecting bids for a contractor to renovate the center, which is named in honor of Frederick Law Olmsted, co-designer of Central, Prospect and Riverside parks. Today, the building houses the bulk of the agency’s capital project staff.

The renovation project, which is designed by BKSK Architects, is split in two phases.

The first is the expansion of the center with a new 10,000-square-foot annex building, which is nearing completion.

The second phase, which will commence in early 2015, will technologically enhance the building and resolve flooding problems. It will include a new water channel system to lead water into bioswales that will contain and absorb it.

The renovated building will include Kebony wood for the walkways, complimented by steel railings and stainless steel cabling.

The construction will also include new siding to improve the center’s resistance to weather, and reconfiguration of the interior to accommodate employees and people with disabilities.

The bids are due Sept. 8.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Attend a Mets game to support the NYS Pavilion


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of New York Mets


The Mets are stepping up to the plate to help out one of their iconic neighbors.

In cooperation with People for the Pavilion (PFP) and to celebrate the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the World’s Fairs, a portion of each ticket purchased through a special online offer for the team’s Friday, August 1 game at Citi Field will help support the PFP’s initiative of preserving the New York State Pavilion in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Purchasers will receive a Limited Edition Mets Pavilion t-shirt. Additionally, groups of 25 or more get welcomed on the Right Field Scoreboard and the group leader receives four tickets to the game of their choice (tickets subject to availability).

To buy tickets for the 7:10 p.m. game against the San Francisco Giants, click here.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Thousands relive past World’s Fairs at anniversary festival, call for third Fair


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre


It wasn’t quite a third New York World’s Fair, but Sunday’s anniversary festival left that impression.

Thousands flocked to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the site of the 1939-40 and 1964-65 World’s Fairs, to honor the 75th and 50th anniversaries through a myriad of free activities, exhibitions and various food, sponsored by the Queens borough president’s office and the Parks Department.

People mostly from around the city, Tri-State area and Long Island came to relive the memory of the World’s Fair and pass along that feeling to the next generation.

“For me, just to come back and pay respects 50 years later is [great],” said Carlos Rios, a Harlem native who attended the 1964-65 World’s Fair. “It’s deja-vu.”

Surrounding the iconic Unisphere, there were inflatable rides for children, international food courtesy of LIC Flea & Food, free tours, exhibitions from Queens educational institutions, memorabilia from past Fairs, and music from various bands— including Beatles tribute band, the Liverpool Shuffle.

Despite the festivities, the celebration just didn’t compare to an actual World’s Fair, some said.

“This is not a World’s Fair, this is just a reunion-type thing,” Marc Cutler, a Brooklyn resident who collects World’s Fair memorabilia said. “There’s no comparison.”

But the festival triggered so many memories of the Fair, some people are now calling for a third fair, and politicians are already on board.

“We need conservation, preservation, and more economic development [in Queens], and I think a World’s Fair would do all of that wrapped up in one,” Public Advocate Letitia James said.

Many watched and listened as the band Raices and others performed in front of the Unisphere. 

Learning the history of the World’s Fair is great, but for kids, bouncy houses are also fun.  

International food vendors, such as Koso’s Korean cuisine, were available at the festival courtesy of LIC Flea & Food. 

AT&T unveiled charging stations— a must-have in modern times. 

A festival isn’t a festival without classic cars. 

An original Batmobile from the Batman TV series in the mid-1960s. It was not part of the 1964-65 World’s Fair, but Autoseum added it to the classic cars selection because it is a fan favorite. 

New York State Pavilion advocates were around to give tours and information on the structure as well as ask people to sign petitions to save it. 

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Festival to celebrate World’s Fair anniversaries this Sunday


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Unisphere

DOROTHY LEWANDOWSKI

On Sunday, May 18, from 1 to 5:30 p.m., NYC Parks is celebrating two World’s Fair anniversaries — the 75th anniversary of the 1939 and the 50th anniversary of the 1964 — in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The giant one-day festival will offer inflatable rides, puppet shows, strolling magicians, tents filled with World’s Fair memorabilia, live cultural dance and music, history tours of World’s Fair icons in the park, great food and a place to record your own World’s Fair memories and photos.

From 5:30 to 9 p.m., stay for a free concert by the Liverpool Shuffle, a Beatles tribute band, followed by the Queens Symphony Orchestra and a skyful of fireworks. If you plan to ride the 7 subway, you might find yourself on one of the actual World’s Fair cars from the 1964 Fair — the MTA is returning it to service May 18 only to celebrate the day.

The Fairs are gone, but Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the World’s Park, remains.

Since 2002, NYC Parks has spent nearly $89 million on dozens of capital improvements to the park, and this important work continues. Some are renovations or new uses for World’s Fair legacy structures.

Originally built for the 1939 Fair, the Boathouse on Meadow Lake is now home to the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, which holds its annual race in August; the American Small Craft Association, offering sailing; and Row New York. From the 1964 World’s Fair, the Unisphere remains, its three rings circling the globe to represent the first three satellites to orbit the earth. Terrace on the Park, once Port Authority’s T-shaped heliport, now serves as a catering hall with remarkable views. Information about many more structures and works of art in the park can be found on a visit or by going to www.nyc.gov/parks and searching World’s Fair.

How much does New York love Flushing Meadows Corona Park and its treasures? On April 22, 2014, as Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, local elected officials and community leaders cut the ribbon on the anniversary season, 2,500 people lined up to step inside the New York State Pavilion’s “Tent of Tomorrow,” where they could re-imagine the happiness, hope and promise of that beautiful spring when the 1964 Fair first opened.

Join us to celebrate it all at the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival Sunday in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

See you in the park!

Dorothy Lewandowski is Queens Parks Commissioner for NYC Parks.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens native explores borough in new children’s book


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Illustrations © Rick Sanders

Demetra Tsavaris-Lecourezos is taking young readers on a journey around the world with the first magical stop in Queens.

Tsavaris-Lecourezos, who was born in Jackson Heights and raised in Woodside, is the author of a new children’s book and series titled “Young World Travelers and the Magical Crystal Globe,” where a group of kids from Florida are transported to any time period they want, wherever they want.

The first book of the series debuted Sunday at the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival. It takes these young world travelers back in time to experience the site of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, the Queens County Farm, before it was a museum, and a Civil War fort in Fort Totten.

“You pick up books in the bookstore and you are learning about the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building, but never about the structures in Queens,” Tsavaris-Lecourezos said.

The concept of the “Young World Travelers” series began nine years ago when Tsavaris-Lecourezos gave birth to her daughter Katerina, the year after marrying her high school sweetheart. Together with her husband, Constantinos (Gus) P. Lecourezos she began to come up an initial concept of writing a movie script that would be educational for children and revolve around traveling to Greece.

After realizing the large costs that involved turning the script into a film, Tsavaris-Lecourezos decided to create a children’s book. She wrote four books in total with the characters traveling to places in Egypt, England, Greece and New York.

In 2009, her husband passed away and Tsavaris-Lecourezos moved to Tarpon Springs, Florida with her daughter.

At the end of last year a friend suggested she take her concept to a publisher and when Tsavaris-Lecourezos approached publisher thewordverve inc. her ideas were accepted.

“It was all falling into place, I had no idea,” she said. “I’m rolling with it and I’m really excited.”

The “Young World Travelers” series is dedicated to Tsavaris-Lecourezos’ husband and mother. In the book the children receive a magical crystal globe, which allows them to time travel, from Mrs. Eva, who was named and inspired by Tsavaris-Lecourezos’ mother.

The 43-page book’s illustrator Rick Sanders is also a Queens native. Though Tsavaris-Lecourezos and him first met through thewordverve, they were coincidentally born in the same hospital.

During the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival, Tsavaris-Lecourezos held two readings to share the book with visitors of all ages.

“I was so honored to have been invited to such an event,” she said. “It was amazing and an opportunity of a lifetime to be able to debut my book there.”

To preorder “Young World Travelers and the Magical Crystal Globe,” click here.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

LIC and Astoria Flea & Food vendors to be at World’s Fair Anniversary Festival


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Several food vendors from the LIC Flea & Food and Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios are making their way to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park this Sunday to add their flavor to the World’s Fair festivities.

Visitors to the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival will be able to taste empanadas from Jessy’s Pastries, Old Fashioned Donuts, brisket from Butcher Bar, Finga Lickin Jamaican Jerk Spot’s jerk chicken, Kosofresh’s rice bowls, Fav’s Treatery’s muffins stuffed with cheeses and meats, ZhaPanAsian riceballs, kosher cheeses from The Cheese Guy, Drink More Good syrups and drinks, and cool down with lemonade from Frittering Away.

The vendors will be located by the rides and just steps away from the New York State Pavilion.

The World’s Fair Anniversary Festival begins at 1 p.m. and a variety of music, including tunes from a Beatles Tribute band, book readings, puppet shows and food from around the world. The festival will then end with a sky-filled with fireworks.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Video captures Queens family’s memories from 1964-1965 World’s Fair


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of Psomiades family

A local family shared some its memories of the 1964-1965 World’s Fair with The Queens Courier through film.

The Psomiades handed over footage of the family, which included parents Bill and Tessie, and their sons Bill, John and George, attending the event at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

To mark the event’s 50th anniversary, The Courier had the 18-minute film digitized.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Readers continue to share their World’s Fair memories


| editorial@queenscourier.com

IMG_8306

KATRINA MEDOFF

In anticipation of NYC Parks’ World’s Fair Anniversary Festival, which will be held in Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Sunday, May 18, readers of The Queens Courier have been sharing their World’s Fair memories and memorabilia with us.

Belle Chameides, 93, went to both the 1939-40 and the 1964-65 World’s Fairs.

“I just loved it and I enjoyed going back many times to visit it,” the Little Neck resident said.

She recalls enjoying World’s Fair festivities with her older sister, Anita Lee, and her twin sister, Shirley.

She sent The Queens Courier memorabilia from both Fairs: a flag and pins from 1940, and tickets from 1964-65.

Reader Dotty Sodano was about 20 when she worked as part of the stenographic pool in the Administration Building of the Fair.

Sodano started working in the office in 1963, the year before the Fair opened, and she remembers that there was a countdown in the office until the Fair’s opening day.

“It was a fun place to work,” Sodano said.

She wrote to The Queens Courier to share her World’s Fair memories:

“I was employed in the Administration Building at the World’s Fair from 1963 to 1965, working on occasion for [Vice President] Stuart Constable and President Robert Moses.

“It was a privilege to be present the day that Gen. Douglas MacArthur visited the Fair. I am actually in a photo that was taken of him and the office staff while he was being greeted by Gen. William Potter. The photo appeared in a pamphlet which I kept all of these years. He also visited the large-scale table model of the entire World’s Fair, which I still remember as being an impressive sight.

“One of the perks of working there was walking around on our lunch hour visiting the many extraordinary pavilions and exhibits. There were people of all nationalities enjoying the sites (which may be common today, but not then). The Walt Disney salute to the children of the world was most enjoyable, as were the international exhibits; and Michelangelo’s Pieta left a lasting impression.

“It’s hard to believe that was fifty years ago. As a young woman, it was certainly a great place to work and a most memorable time of my life!

“Sincerely,
“Dotty Sodano”

The pamphlet featuring Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s visit to the World’s Fair, courtesy of Dotty Sodano.

 

WORLD’S FAIR SUBMISSIONS CALL

Did you or someone you know attend the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park?

If yes, The Queens Courier is asking you to share your memorabilia and/or memories with us to commemorate the event’s 50th anniversary this April. You could win a dinner for two.

Please email your entries to editorial@queenscourier.com with the subject line “World’s Fair Anniversary” or to Editorial, 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361.

Note: All photos/items become property of The Queens Courier.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

EXCLUSIVE: A new old way to look at the New York State Pavilion


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Natali S. Bravo

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

 

Many people dream of time travel, but Rego Park freelance photographer Natali Bravo has actually completed a photo essay through time.

Using a 1964 World’s Fair Kodak camera and vintage film, Bravo captured the opening of the New York State Pavilion to the public last month through the same lens that people a half-century ago would have been able to use. She developed and released the photos exclusively to The Courier for readers to view.

Bravo, who is also a camera collector, found the old Kodak being sold online from a woman in Virginia in February. It was a bargain at $25, as currently, the rare camera runs for about five times that price on average on eBay.

About two months later, the shutterbug found someone selling six rolls of vintage film for just $35. And a week after that, she learned that the New York State Pavilion — a space-like relic left over from the 1964-65 World’s Fair — would be opening to the public for the first time in decades.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Bravo said. “I had the camera and the film, so the universe was telling me something here.”
She seized the opportunity to capture the event with her vintage Kodak.

With her half-century-old Kodak slung by her side, Bravo shot 39 frames from the camera of the pavilion, politicians and people viewing the wonders of the structure.

The Darkroom, a business in California, developed the images, which revealed rich black-and-white shots of the modern day pavilion opening, making the event look as though it took place 50 years ago.

Bravo felt delighted to know that she was able to shoot photos the same way people did decades ago.

“For a photographer traveling is very significant,” Bravo said. “To be able to travel through time is beyond words.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

 

World’s Fair panel discussion to explore its design legacy


| editorial@queenscourier.com

KATRINA MEDOFF

International engineering company Thornton Tomasetti organized a panel discussion about the 1964 World’s Fair that will be held on Wednesday, May 7, at the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter Center for Architecture.

The panel discussion, entitled “50 Years Later: What is the Design Legacy of the 1964 World’s Fair?” will examine the innovation that the World’s Fair inspired and explore how that creativity in design, engineering and construction can be rekindled today.

Moderating the panel will be the company’s chairman and CEO, Thomas Z. Scarangello, who visited the World’s Fair as a child.

Charles H. Thornton, a founding principal of Thornton Tomasetti, will participate in the discussion. While still a graduate student, he helped develop the elliptical bicycle wheel tension roof structure featured at the World’s Fair’s New York State Pavillion. He also worked on the 1964-65 pavilions for Kodak and Travelers Insurance.

Other panel members who helped design and build the 1964 World’s Fair will include Vincent DeSimone, Ken Hiller, Frank Marino and Alan Ritchie.

The event will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at 536 LaGuardia Place in Manhattan. To register for the free event, click here.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Star of Queens: Mitch Silverstein, co-founder, New York State Pavilion Paint Project


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

MSS2

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Mitch Silverstein is co-founder of the New York State Pavilion Paint Project, a volunteer group dedicated to maintaining the 1964-65 World’s Fair figure in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park through painting and other upkeep projects.

BACKGROUND: Born in Brooklyn, Silverstein, 55, moved to Long Island in 1963. He has fond memories of visiting the World’s Fair as a child. In addition to his Pavilion work, the event also inspired him to study science and become a biologist. Today, Silverstein lives in Rockland County, N.Y., but “gladly commutes” to Queens for his Paint Project work.

GOALS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The New York State Pavilion Paint Project started in 2009, when co-founder John Piro wanted to repaint its stripes after the structure had been neglected. At first it was just the two of them, but there is now a core group of five to eight, with as many as 10 volunteers at a time.

“We figured that the paint would not only improve the park and the Pavilion, but it was also a form of advocacy. It was a hope for the future,” Silverstein said.

The group also does cleanup and minor repairs. It recently helped open up the Pavilion to the public for the first time in decades, after Piro approached the Parks Department with the idea. On April 22, on the fair’s 50th anniversary, around 2,000 came to the event, according to Silverstein.

He said the group hopes to continue helping the Pavilion “look nice” and “keep its dignity.” Silverstein, along with Piro and another group member, is part of a task force put together by Borough President Melinda Katz to create a plan for the Pavilion’s future.

INSPIRATION: Silverstein is inspired by his desire to see the Pavilion preserved and other groups that are advocating for the structure and are supportive of his own group’s work.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: One step forward was when Borough President Melinda Katz declared she was dedicated to preserving the Pavilion, Silverstein said, but support and funding from multiple sources will likely be needed to stabilize and ultimately save it.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

More readers share their World’s Fair memories


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of reader Dean Psomiades/Photos by Bill Psomiades

KATRINA MEDOFF

NYC Parks’ World’s Fair Anniversary Festival, which will be held in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park on Sunday, May 18, will bring to Queens a day of food, rides, live entertainment and World’s Fair memorabilia.

In the meantime, many of our readers have been sharing their fond memories of the 1964-65 World’s Fair with The Queens Courier.

“I remember walking to the Fair from my house in Forest Hills,” said Marc Young, who was 12 at the time. “My friend, Richard Lerman, and I would spend the entire day at the Fair going on the rides and seeing shows and exhibits.”

They would take $10 or $12 with them to spend all day at the fair, Young said, but one day, they ran out of money.

“We were hungry and wanted dinner, but we didn’t want to go home,” Young said. “Luckily, we met up with some classmates at the Chun King restaurant. They had a dinner plate for 99 cents. My friend, Susan Katz, loaned us money so we could eat.”

So Young and Lerman stayed at the fair to go on the Ford Motor Company ride, which usually had a long line. “You got to sit in a car, and it went through the history of car making,” Young remembered. “Everyone wanted to go on it, since it was an actual ride and everyone liked those things.”

Young and his friend had to wait until 9 p.m. to get on the ride, and by the time the ride was over and they had walked back to the main gate, the kids’ dads were there with two police officers.

“It was going toward 10 o’clock and we had been there since 10 in the morning,” Young said. “They were waiting there getting ready to search for us.”

Young recalls that “The walk home was a little longer that night!”

Reader John Dallal of Howard Beach, N.Y., submitted a poem about his World’s Fair experience:

I loved the World’s Fair!

It was awesome! I was there…

And, truthfully, can attest

That, for me, it was the best

For a young mind to explore

What the future had in store.

Futurama, by GM,

Was a ride that turned a bend…

To display for searching eyes

A look beneath tomorrow’s skies.

And the Vatican display

Of the Pieta made my day

More enhanced. And, now, for me

There’s a lovely memory

Of a place: a joy! a treat-

One I wish I could repeat!

But I’m glad I got to know,

Without match, such a wondrous show!

At the time of the fair, Dallal lived in Bellerose, and was 18.

He, like many of our readers, remembers Disney’s Carousel of Progress in the GM pavilion, where he “sat in a seat seeing what was in the future,” he said. Dallal believes that the World’s Fair was the first time he saw a push-button telephone.

Dallal’s wife, Mary Ann, also has memories of the fair. Like many World’s Fair visitors, “my wife remembered the Belgian waffles,” Dallal said.

“I do have fond memories from that time,” Dallal said. “I was hoping they were going to repeat it. But I was just happy to be a part of it.”

WORLD’S FAIR SUBMISSIONS CALL

Did you or someone you know attend the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park?

If yes, The Queens Courier is asking you to share your memorabilia and/or memories with us to commemorate the event’s 50th anniversary this April. You could win a dinner for two.

Please email your entries to editorial@queenscourier.com with the subject line “World’s Fair Anniversary” or to Editorial, 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361.

Note: All photos/items become property of The Queens Courier.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 


Star of Queens: Marie T. Carella, president, Greater Astoria Historical Society


| editorial@queenscourier.com

MTCHeadshot

Community Service: Marie T. Carella has been president of the Greater Astoria Historical Society since January of this year.

The Greater Astoria Historical Society is a nonprofit cultural and community-oriented organization dedicated to preserving the past and promoting Long Island City’s and Astoria’s future.

Background: Carella has been a lifelong Astoria resident. Besides volunteering at the Greater Astoria Historical Society, she also volunteers at Immaculate Conception School on Ditmars Boulevard, where she is president of the Alumni Association.

“Having a public relations background, combined with good organizations skills, I enjoy working with the public, organizing and attending events and meeting new people,” she said.

Favorite Memory: Carella says her fondest memory would be the “It’s a Small World” boat ride at the Pepsi Pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair.

“As a young girl, the memory of those animated figures representing different countries was amazing,” Carella said.

Inspiration: “My outlook on life is always positive with a good balance thrown in,” Carella said. “I feel that life has its ups and downs and for everything bad that happens, there is always a good reason for it. I believe in following the ‘do what it takes to get the job done’ rule for success.”

Biggest Challenge: According to Carella, the biggest challenge faced at the Greater Astoria Historical Society is being underfunded and recruiting additional volunteers.

“There are so many great ideas at work at the Greater Astoria Historical Society and often times the lack of funding stands in the way of doing a program or not,” she said. “We also find that having more volunteers can bring additional exposure to the society and the programs.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

NYS Pavilion recognized as ‘National Treasure’ on World’s Fair anniversary


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

The New York State Pavilion, a surviving relic of the 1964-65 World’s Fair, was named a “National Treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the famed event.

Following the recognition on Tuesday, the Parks Department opened the Pavilion to the public for the first time for decades. The Pavilion recently received a fresh coat of paint from the advocacy group New York State Pavilion Paint Project, but its space-like structures have rusted over and it is in need of repair.

The hope is that the designation, which puts it among nearly 40 other historic places and buildings around the country, would help attract funds — estimated to be at least $43 million — to save it.

“For a long time the future of this building was a question mark,” said Paul Goldberger, a board member of the nonprofit group. “But in time it will not be a question mark at all, I think it will be a different piece of punctuation. It will be a great exclamation point in the middle of a resurgent Queens.”

In its heyday, the Pavilion featured the Tent of Tomorrow, three towers and the Theaterama, which is now the nearby Queens Theatre. When it was constructed, the Tent of Tomorrow had a $1 million map of New York State on its floor, made of 567 mosaic panels weighing 400 pounds each and colorful stained glass panels on its ceiling. Two of the towers had cafeterias for the fair, while the tallest, which stands at 226 feet, was used as an observation deck.

“It’s not what it was,” said Elaine Goldstein of Howard Beach, who visited both 1939-40 and 1964-65 World’s Fairs. “It’s hurtful to see that it went into disrepair.”

Thousands of people from all walks of life, many of whom had a connection to the Pavilion, walked through the gates with hard hats to tour the aged structure.

“This is the greatest moment of my life,” said Natali Bravo, a resident from Rego Park, who was shooting pictures of the Pavilion with a 1964 Kodak World’s Fair Camera. “This is the first time I’m actually setting foot in here. To actually be photographing this event the way it was meant to be photographed with this camera is a very special thing.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Readers share their World’s Fair memories


| editorial@queenscourier.com

GIANT POST CARD

KATRINA MEDOFF

As the grand opening of the World’s Fair Festival approaches, The Queens Courier is digging up memories of the 1939-40 and 1964-65 World’s Fairs. The World’s Fair experience is still fresh in the memories of our readers, and many have shared their stories.

Mary Maggio was 8 when the 1964-65 World’s Fair was being built.

Photo courtesy of the Greater Astoria Historical Society

“My dad worked in street lighting, so I was actually there before it initially opened up,” she said. Maggio and her mother would go the site to bring her father dinner. “It wasn’t open yet, but it was going to be open soon. I saw construction workers and electricians [preparing for the fair].”
Maggio spoke of the enthusiasm of everyone in Electchester, which was built for electrical workers, where she grew up.

“We all couldn’t wait because it was something spectacular,” she said. “Our parents were there for the ‘39 fair, so they instilled in us — the second generation — that excitement by talking about it.”

Photo courtesy of reader Dean Psomiades / Photo by Bill Psomiades

She remembers the Carousel of Progress at the General Electric pavilion; the Vatican pavilion, which Maggio had to visit with her parochial school; the giant U.S. Royal Tires Ferris wheel; and a water show.

“The water show had people on Jet Skis and a clown who either opened or ended it,” she said. “I sat toward the front so I’d get splashed because it was so hot.”

It’s a Small World “stuck in my head,” Maggio said. “When I went to Disney World as an adult, I got there and the one pavilion I went to was Small World — and it was closed for renovation!”

Photo courtesy of the Greater Astoria Historical Society

Steve Dworkin was a teenager during the 1964-65 World’s Fair.

“That might have been the best time to go to the fair because I went with friends,” he said. “I was sad when they ripped it down.”

Since Dworkin lived in Little Neck, the fair was just “a quick ride” away, he said.

“I don’t remember how many times I went,” he said, but “you had to go there quite a few times to see everything.”

He remembers seeing “a lot of ground-breaking things” at the fair.

Photo courtesy of reader Dean Psomiades/Photo by Bill Psomiades

“Chrysler was showing a car that could run on any combustible fuel,” he said. Supposedly, it would be ready soon, he said — “but 50 years later, we’re still waiting!”

In the Illinois pavilion, visitors entered a theater and saw a figure of Abraham Lincoln sitting on a chair.

“He looks like a statue or wax model, but then he gets up and gives a speech,” Dworkin remembered of the new “audio-animatronics” technology.

According to nywf64.com, Disney’s animated figure recited excerpts of Lincoln’s speeches and was “capable of more than 250,000 combinations of actions, including gestures, smiles and frowns; the facial features were taken from Lincoln’s life mask.”

Dworkin also recalls the “People Wall” at the IBM pavilion: “There was stadium seating, at we sat in the audience. Then, the whole audience gets lifted into a theater 20 feet above ground” for a multi-screen show explaining how the human mind and computers work in similar ways.

For this year’s celebrations, Dworkin said, “I’d love to see a tour — I don’t know if they have one — taking you around the grounds showing where things used to be [in the 1964 World’s Fair].”

WORLD’S FAIR SUBMISSIONS CALL:

Did you or someone you know attend the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park? If yes, The Queens Courier is asking you to share your memorabilia and/or memories with us to commemorate the event’s 50th anniversary this April. You could win a dinner for two. Please email your entries to editorial@queenscourier.com with the subject line “World’s Fair Anniversary” or to Editorial, 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361. Note: All photos/items become property of The Queens Courier.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES