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Entries in world's fair (31)

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.

Sunday
Apr172011

Construction Begins on the Space Needle (1961)

Fifty years ago today construction began on the Space Needle in Seattle. Just a year later, the 605 foot (185 meter) tower, which featured a revolving restaurant and observation deck, would be the crown jewel of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. Dubbed the Century 21 Exposition, the Fair planners were eager to showcase American ingenuity with eyes firmly fixed on the future. The space race had begun in 1957 with the Soviet launch of Sputnik, so it only made sense that Americans would want the Space Needle to become a prominent symbol for the new Space Age.

The ad below appeared in the February, 1962 issue of Holiday magazine.

It's April 21, 1962, in Seattle... World's Fair time! The curtain's going up on the 21st Century... and on the most exciting preview ever seen. This is Seattle's spectacular Space-Age World's Fair, where the epic of man's journey into the next 100 years will unfold for you. What's ahead? How will man live? What will he see? Look at cities in the year 2000, see homes whose walls are jets of air, where cordless appliances work for you, cars ride without wheels, TV wrist telephones speed everyday communications. Time and distance wll disappear in the gigantic, pillar-less Coliseum Century 21, jutting eleven stories up from the heart of the fair. You'll soar past the moon into outer galaxies -- no space suit, no gravity, in the $9 million complex of the United States Science Pavilion. You will discover the secrets of the future in these six gleaming buildings rising above lighted fountains and courtyard pools. But it's not all the story of man's great tomorrows. Much of this $80 million show will be a glittering world of today. Dine atop the towering 60-story Space Needle which revolves to view Mt. Rainier, the Olympic and Cascade Ranges. Stroll Boulevards of the World filled with the sights and sounds of foreign lands. Thrill to the Monorail as it whisks you the mile from downtown Seattle in 95 seconds.

 

 

Friday
Mar182011

Lunar Crawlers (1964)

For the 1964 World's Fair in New York General Motors hoped to create the same sense of wonder that it had achieved with its Futurama exhibit of the 1939 New York World's Fair. Futurama II expanded upon the highways, cities and conveniences of tomorrow to include lunar and sea exploration. The photo above shows manned "Lunar Crawlers" that are the main form of transporation for future moon travelers.

This image appears in the excellent book Exit to Tomorrow: World's Fair Architecture, Design, Fashion 1933-2005.

Thursday
Jan202011

Ford's Magic Skyway (1964)

Of all the major attractions at the 1964 World's Fair it seems Ford's Magic Skyway receives the least amount of chatter, ink and pixels in 2011. It wasn't moved to Disneyland like Carousel of Progress or It's A Small World, and it wasn't a sexy sequel like Futurama II. But it looked like quite the ride nonetheless.

Narrated by Walt Disney, fairgoers hopped into Fords on a journey from the age of the dinosaurs to the invention of the wheel to a "highway in the sky carrying you across the boundless night and out into time and space." The audio-animatronic dinosaurs and cavemen of Magic Skyway would be familiar to anyone visiting a Disney park today, as Epcot's Spaceship Earth, Universe of Energy and World of Motion (R.I.P.) all look like they drew quite a bit of inspiration from this attraction.

At the end of the ride Walt's familiar voice proclaimed, "perhaps someday we'll be riding rocketships like those flashing overhead to anywhere in space. Perhaps someday we will drive jet-powered vehicles over weather-controlled highways in the sky like those spiralling tubes around you." Perhaps indeed.

For more on Ford's Magic Skyway check out the video below

The concept art above appears in Designing Disney: Imagineering and the Art of the Show by John Hench.

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Monday
Dec062010

New Nutrition (1933)

The book Meals to Come: A History of the Future of Food by Warren Belasco is one of my favorite books ever. So well researched and written, I could devote a thousand posts to its genius. Instead I'll share an insight from page 217 about the 1933 Chicago World's Fair and American attitudes at that time toward meal pills. While I think Belasco is correct in his assessment that meal pills felt inevitable for many people of that generation, it's important to remember that there were indeed skeptics.

Issues of faith and control underlay much of the popular ambivalence about modernism. If, as the slogan at the 1933 Chicago fair proclaimed, "Science Finds -- Industry Applies -- Man Conforms," there is not a lot that Man can do except sit back and try to enjoy the ride. The belief that modernization is both unstoppable and indifferent to individual desires probably explains the persistent popular belief in the inevitability of the meal-in-a-pill, that scary New Nutrition extrapolation. While most people vow and hope that they will never rely on pills for food, they presume future generations will conform to whatever "science finds" -- pills, algae, or other dystopian horrors proposed by the "brave new world of totalitarian technics."

I'm fascinated by trends in futurism, but I must always remind myself that people of a given generation are not of one mind. Thinking about the great number of cultural, political and social divisions present in 2010 helps to keep this in perspective. Futuristic themes we find odd today may appear to have been widely accepted in their time, but the fear of a robot uprising in the 1930s, or the inevitability of an incredibly short work week in the 1960s, or building a roof over an entire city in the 1940s, all had their fair share of skeptics. Accurately getting a feel for the acceptance of these ideas is one of the greatest challenges for historians.

I'm just as interested in how many people really thought we'd have a jetpack by now as I am in why we don't have that jetpack. So if anyone has creative ways of gauging public attitudes toward these futuristic ideas of the past, I'm all ears! Well, not literally. I only have two. But will people in the year 2110 assume that the people of 2010 thought they'd all one day have three ears?

 

The image above is from the book Exit to Tomorrow: World's Fair Architecture, Design, Fashion 1933-2005.

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Saturday
Jan232010

Jetpack at the 1982 World's Fair

Here at the Paleo-Future blog we look at the work of many visionary people; John Elfreth Watkins Jr, Arthur Radebaugh, Harry Grant Dart, Victor Cohn... but few deserve the title of professional badass of the retrofuture. William P. Suitor no doubt deserves that distinction, risking life and limb to bring us that much closer to a jetpack-filled future.

That's Suitor in this 1966 footage from Disneyland, this photo from the 1964 New York World's Fair, and above in a photo from the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. My generation, (I was just a twinkle in my father's eye in 1982), probably best knows about the 1982 World's Fair through the 1996 Simpsons episode, Bart on the Road

You can find many more great pictures in Suitor's book, Rocketbelt Pilot's Manual: A Guide by the Bell Test Pilot.

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Sunday
Jan102010

Travel by Rocketship (1939)

 

The Official Guide Book to the 1939 New York World's Fair includes this illustration of an exhibit from the Chrysler Motors Building. The exhibit imagined the rocketport of the future and was designed by industrial designer Raymond Loewy. The text below was used for publicity purposes and can be found in the New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

Focal Exhibit on Transportation in THE CHRYSLER MOTORS BUILDING at the New York World's Fair 1939.

A dramatic visualization of the possibilities of swift travel over long distances by rocketship in the World of Tomorrow will be part of the Transportation Focal Exhibit in the Chrysler Motors Building at the New York World's Fair 1939. The exhibit will occupy the rotunda at the Chrysler Motors Building in the Fair's Transportation Zone.

Shown in the photograph is the rocketport of the future as sketched by Raymond Loewy, industrial designer, for the intricate model which will be used in the Chrysler exhibit to demonstrate trans-ocean transport through the stratosphere by rocket. The rocketgun is pictured at the moment of its discharge; this is to be accompanied by a brilliant flash of light, a muffled explosion and ingenious effects which make it appear that the rocket vanishes in the sky-like ceiling enroute to the stratosphere, to cross the sea and reach London.

As many as a thousand Fair visitors at a time will be able to watch the presentation of the rocketport with signal lights blinking, warning sirens sounding, machinery humming, while futuristic liners, trains, buses and automobiles discharge voagers. When the moment of departure nears, a crane equipped with a magnet picks up the rocketship, and, as the breech of the rocketgun opens, deposits the vehicle of the future in the gun. After an interval, the rocketgun discharges and the rocketship appears to be winging its way into the stratosphere.

Before the rocketship demonstration, the story of transportation from the dawn of history to the present is told by a series of moving picture episodes flashed across the map-screen. Man is shown walking; then jeweled lights on the map indicate the distance he could travel afoot. Similar treatment shows his progress through the eras of the Viking ship, the camel, the wooden wheel, the sailing ship, and so on to the day of the airplane when the final episode portrays man circumnavigating the world in a week.

 

Previously on Paleo-Future: