World’s Fair Memories (Under the Wire)

This year is the 50th anniversary of the 1964 opening of the New York World’s Fair.  I did not attend the event (or at least have no memory of it) but my spouse, Guitar Man, who spent his formative years in Brooklyn, NY did make more than one family visit to the attractions.  I decided to informally interview him for this post.  G-man has stuffed a lot of information onto his cranial hard drive over the years so there’s many a time he can’t remember what he had for breakfast, but he did have some very clear memories of the World’s Fair to share.

Filtering back he says it was a bit like going to Tomorrowland in Walt Disney World, or EPCOT today;  most of the exhibits were product showcases for large companies.  But the most intriguing (especially to a seven year-old boy) was the Sinclair Oil Dinoland Pavilion.   The trademark of the company is a brontosaurus-type dinosaur creatively named Dino.  Here you could buy a freshly extruded green plastic figure of Dino and some other types of dinosaurs.  Sinclair oil is still in business — their motto is “We’re About as American As It gets” — although I haven’t seen Dino here in the East for a long time.

And he remembers Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, which you can still ride in the Tommorrowland section of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in FL.  It proudly claims to be the longest running stage show, with the most performances, in the history of American theater.   It has a very catchy theme song, “There’s A Great, Big Beautiful Tomorrow” that we sing to torture our children on occasion.   It’s a little bit corny, but the late, great Jean Shepherd voices the Dad.

Guitar Man also thinks there was at least one animatronic president at the World’ Fair — possibly Abe Lincoln.  Even today, G-man loves his animatronic presidents.  If we visit WDW we must always include a nap visit at the Hall of Presidents.

Shea Stadium was also under construction during this time and he says in some ways that was even more thrilling — spoken as a true, young Mets fan.  Who doesn’t like to see that heavy equipment moving dirt and lifting big things?

There will never be another event like the 1964 World’s Fair. We’ve grown too cynical to be seduced by corporate displays, and we have the world at our fingertips with just a swipe or a few keystrokes.  I marvel at how far that technology has taken us, yet we still need to create “beautiful tomorrows” for all people.  And I hope that type of optimism will endure.





9 thoughts on “World’s Fair Memories (Under the Wire)

  1. Love, love, love this post! So agree on the need for a beautiful tomorrow AND the incredible changes since that world’s fair. Very cool to know that Guitar Man was there and can recall some of his experiences. And I, too, love a nap at hall of presidents and torture my kids on the carousel of progress. It’s a good reminder of how much we have changed and how unknown the future still is.

    1. Thank you, V! I found another aspect in my research on the World’s Fair: there were civil rights demonstrations going on at the Fair as well. Which also made me realize that despite the debut of “It’s A Small World” and its message of world peace and harmony, the world was still (and still is in many ways) far from a peaceful place with equality for all.

  2. wonderful post, Rosie! I remember going to the Worlds Fair when it was here in New Orleans in 1984. Absolutely loved it, and we had a expo from an oil company that included dino’s as well!!


    1. Hi Eric ~ thanks. It just might have been Sinclair Oil. I thought they had been subsumed by another oil company, but they are still a privately held company with almost $8B in sales last year (according to Forbes).

  3. In some ways I envy the innocence of that age (or maybe dig back a little further to the dawn of the atomic age, and how wondrous the new tech must have seemed back then). New tech seems to be mostly game-focused now, we don’t have the huge leaps in innovation that so characterized the early-mid-20th century. I’ve tried to convey to my kids the sense of awe in the heady days of the space race of the ’50s and ’60s, watching Neil Armstrong step onto the moon in 1969. My dad worked on the wiring for the nose cones of the Apollo missions so we had a stake in that. Ah memories. Great post 🙂

    1. Thanks, DD. I did not know your Dad was a space guy! But I do agree that there is a lot less of a “gee, whiz!” factor around tech now. It all just feels like how (fast) can we monetize the technology….. rather than using it to further a common goal.

  4. My three older brothers went to the ’64 Worlds Fair w/my dad, and I was deemed to young to go. I wouldn’t even remember this except that they have never stopped talking about it; I finally had to chew one of them out recently for included me in his incessant WF64-related email lists #onlyalittlebitter

    1. Bunny, I have never heard this story — or of your brothers ever tormenting you. And they didn’t even bring you back a souvenir dinosaur? Shame on them!

      1. Y’know, I remember that waxy green extruded Sinclair dinosaur very clearly, but I don’t remember who was the official owner of it – it was just part of the household effects, like the TV or the teakettle. But nobody brought me anything to treasure, that’s for sure. #workinghard2moveon

Feel Free To Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s