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Saturday
Jul162011

Americans Journey Into Space at the 1964 New York World's Fair

The Official Souvenir Book of the 1964 New York World's Fair includes some gorgeous illustrations of futuristic space exploration. The Fair had phenomenal exhibits showcasing the American push into space, but if you're wondering what the Soviets put on display for 1964 -- smack in the middle of the space race -- you'll be disappointed to hear that they didn't even have a pavilion.

Did the tensions of the Cold War keep the Soviets from coming to a fair whose motto was "Peace Through Understanding"? Not quite. The 1964 New York World's Fair wasn't even an officially sanctioned World's Fair. Robert Moses, the head organizer, decided to charge site rental fees for countries that wanted to have a pavilion and this put the Fair at odds with the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE). Many countries -- including Canada, Australia, the Soviet Union and most of Europe -- didn't have representation at the Fair when the BIE encouraged its members not to participate.

With Americans trotting out jetpacks, videophones and futuristic highways it's kind of interesting to wonder what the Soviets might have done at the Fair in the name of Cold War competition.

Below are pictures that appear in the Official Souvenir Book to the 1964 New York World's Fair.

Without pause, man has rushed headlong into the nuclear age, the space age and the age of automation. A variety of exhibits at the Fair help the fairgoer catch up with this runaway revolution in technology and science. High points of this revolution are shown on these and the next eight pages. America's first steps into orbit around the earth and plans for future ventures into space are set forth in a number of cinematic space trips as well as in a host of real and scale-model exhibits of space-age hardware. The Cape Kennedy story at the Florida pavilion offers a photographic account of launchings, and the U.S. Space Park provides a showplace for Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and a unit of Saturn V, the rocket destined to boost Apollo to the moon.

 

 

Essential to Apollo's journey of discovery, this vehicle will ferry astronauts between their capsule and the moon. It is in the U.S. Space Park.

 

 

A Saturn I booster, with 1.5 million pounds of thrust, lifts a 20,000-pound payload in a blast-off typical of the space age. A scale model of Saturn I is displayed in Florida's Cape Kennedy exhibit.

 

 

A spaceport and supply rocket, designed by the Martin Marietta Corporation, meet in mid-air in this scene from the Hall of Science space show. In such a port, astronauts may orbit for half a year.

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Reader Comments (3)

And what had just happened to your shattles? they are closed =)

July 17, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertroto

If the USSR pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal was any indication, any Soviet pavilion in New York would have been rather disappointing. Their Montreal exhibit was a clutter of little technological and engineering items and displays honoring the 50th anniversary of the USSR. It was like an updated version of a 19th century industrial exhibition, not a 20th century world's fair exhibit with themes, sub-themes and entertainments. I mainly remember they had a pretty powerful continuous red laser aimed straight out into the exhibit area with a small sticker on the side warning that staring into the beam could damage your eyes. So much for Soviet worker safety, or maybe they were trying to blind a few capitalists.

(The US pavilion was disappointing too. It was indeed in a 300+ foot geodesic sphere with amazing escalators, but it featured US cultural icons, largely from Hollywood, not US technology or society.)

July 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaleberg

By 1967 the world had changed enough that even using the Expo of that year probably does not compare to what the Soviets might have put into the 1964 World's Fair in NYC. The early Sixties were still a time of optimism and hope for space exploration and colonization that nowadays either gets one nostalgic or bemused. Just look at Disneyworld's Tomorrowland to see what has happened to what we think of the future now.

July 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Jetson

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