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.