The first World’s Fair to open up in New York City was in 1939. The second one opened on April 22, 1964, and the theme was “A Millennium of Progress”. At that time my dad worked as an editor at the Latvian newspaper “Laiks” or “Time” and he was excited to go see the fair and write a review about it. The fair also opened up one day before his 59th birthday and I at the age of seven was his chosen partner. My mom worked in Manhattan at that time for an insurance company so she couldn’t take just any day off. So my dad and I headed off to the World’s Fair. Now, of course, I don’t remember very much about it.
This article was started because of what I read online about the second World’s Fair in New York City opening in April of 1964 and closing in October 1965. It is still remembered today for what it offered in view of the Space Age and other incredible displays however it was not very successful commercially. Many years have passed since that time but there are people who still remember some of the things they saw there. There was the Tower of Light and GE’s atomic fusion sun and many other amazing never before seen things. Finally, there was the “It’s a Small World” boat ride that has special meaning to me because my dad and I rode on it. You can imagine us side by side in the boat a tall man of 6 feet and a small seven-year-old girl with braids and a huge smile.
Other things of interest were the talking House of Formica and the Kodak Picture Tower. Oh, how I wish dad had bought one of those new Kodak cameras right there and then because I would have loved to have pictures from this fair. All of the buildings at the fair were made of fiberglass. Scott Paper had visitors walking through their Enchanted Forest of Paper Products, U.S. Steel’s Unisphere was looked upon as being “The Largest Earth Model in History” and a cigar company had a building that kept belching out giant smoke rings.
The photo you see is nothing short of a miracle. This wooden cat still has its green eyes. It used to have a mouse with a leather tail hanging from its mouth. The cat survived I don’t know what happened to the mouse. It was brought for me by my dad at this World’s Fair and I have had it all of these years. Most of what was left of the fair was torn down by 1966 and the former site of the World’s Fair became Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. For a while, I lived in Queens and I remember going to this park. It made me kind of teary-eyed and gave me a funny feeling to be walking in the same place that dad and I had walked all of those years before and with dad gone I wished I had seen us there as a flashback from a Hollywood movie.
Other things still left behind from the fair and seen at the park are The Unisphere and it is very large and impressive. The globe stands 12 feet high and weighs 70,000 pounds and is made of stainless steel so that it won’t rust. It is encircled by three rings which represent the orbits of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (the first Russian), Astronaut John Glenn (the first American) and Telstar (the first active communications satellite). Beneath it is a reflecting pool that is filled up in the summer and the fountains are turned on. During the other seasons, it is a popular spot for skateboarders.
There are also in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park:
- The New York State Pavilion ruins
- Restored World’s Fair Rockets
- The time capsules from the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs
- A plaque dedicated to policemen killed by a World’s Fair bomb
- N.Y.C. panorama
- Large Supersonic Jet Sculpture
- The Rocket Thrower
- Whispering Column of Jerash
Scattered remains of this World’s Fair can be found in various states in the U.S.
You can take a look at more information about the 1964 World’s Fair here. Who knows if you live in the U.S. perhaps you live near one of these remains and never knew that it came from this fair.
On top is a photo of my dad and me