The 1964 World’s Fair in New York - A hopeful Future

Each Sunday I do a little shtick on social media where I post one of the salt and pepper shakers from the Good Find collection and tag it with #saltandpeppersunday. This past Sunday, the shaker in question was a little figure of the Unisphere, an art installation created for the 1964 World’s Fair which still stands in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, New York. With my tiny salt and pepper shakers as inspiration, I asked the internet to tell me more about the 1964 World’s Fair, and it is pretty interesting. Here are some fun facts I learned:

The 1964 World’s Fair, held in New York City, was a showcase of mid-20th-century culture and technology. The fair was held in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, New York, from April 22, 1964, to October 18, 1964, and again from April 21, 1965, to October 17, 1965. It covered a total area of 646 acres. The official theme of the fair was "Peace Through Understanding," symbolized by its iconic Unisphere, a 12-story-high, stainless-steel model of the Earth, and design model for my little salt and pepper shakers. This symbol of the fair, designed by Gilmore D. Clarke, represented global interdependence and was sponsored by United States Steel Corporation. It remains a lasting landmark in the park.

The fair introduced many new technologies to the public, including picturephones, which allowed people to see each other while talking on the phone, and the Ford Mustang, which became an instant classic. It was also one of the first public showcases for computer technology.

Walt Disney played a significant role in the fair, creating several popular attractions:

  • "It's a Small World": Sponsored by Pepsi-Cola to benefit UNICEF, it featured dolls from around the world singing the famous song.
  • "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln": Sponsored by the State of Illinois, it featured an Audio-Animatronic Abraham Lincoln.
  • "Ford's Magic Skyway": Sponsored by the Ford Motor Company, this attraction allowed visitors to ride in actual Ford cars.
  • "Carousel of Progress": Sponsored by General Electric, this showcased the progress of electricity in homes over the decades.

The fair had a significant cultural impact, influencing music, fashion, and architecture. It was a gathering place for people from around the world, showcasing diverse cultures and promoting international understanding. Reflecting the era's fascination with space exploration, many exhibits focused on space technology, including a replica of the Saturn V rocket and displays by NASA. The fair featured striking architecture, including the New York State Pavilion with its observation towers and the Tent of Tomorrow, designed by Philip Johnson. The Pavilion's floor was a giant map of New York State, made of terrazzo tiles.

Over 80 nations participated, each showcasing their culture, technology, and achievements. The Vatican Pavilion housed Michelangelo's Pietà, which was brought from St. Peter's Basilica for the event. Despite its cultural success and high attendance (over 51 million people), the fair faced financial difficulties and did not turn a profit, leading to a lasting debate on its overall economic impact. The 1964 World’s Fair was a remarkable event that left a lasting legacy in New York City and the world, reflecting the optimism and technological enthusiasm of the 1960s.

1 comment

  • Sharon Hathaway

    I went to that world fair in 1964 with my nursing class for our senior trip.ive got pictures I can show you in my album!!Love,mom

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