One of my weird collecting passions involve things related to the 1964 New York World’s Fair. My Grandmother used to have pamphlets and books from their travels there laying around the house and I would pour over them, reading them from cover to cover, over and over again (I now have them after she passed). So of course, one of my first searches would lead me to anything relating to this historic event that spanned two years. One such find is an incredible art book, covering the construction of the fair through pencil drawings by artist and painter Luciano Guarnieri (1930 – 2009). The creator of the 1964 World’s Fair, Robert Moses, provides the preface and states the obvious, that his work is uniquely original and creates a momento for visitors to remember the experience permanently. The artist himself comments about his image captures and conveys the sense of pushing through in the construction to be completed in time for opening day:
“I started to draw these instants which past before me and to try and capture the enveloping changing light of day and weather – grey passages of rain, burning sunsets, blinding snow, crystalline mornings – that set the key to the moods which accompanied me over the plains of Flushing Meadows.” (p. 10).
The artwork in this book is beautiful and Guarnieri makes excellent use of light and shadows for each scene, all sketched in pencil with handwritten notes.
This excellent find can be found here: https://archive.org/details/officialartbooko00guar
There is a treasure trove of groundbreaking and dedication booklets that cover just about every exhibit (https://archive.org/details/1964-65NewYorkWorldsFairGroundbreakingAndDedicationBooklets).
One of the more popular attractions at the fair was Sinclair, which featured dinoland, lifesize dinosaur replicas. This video explains the Sinclair mission at the fair and some of the awesome technological advances they hoped would be in our future (to include a spaceship-like gas pump rotated to each car). https://archive.org/details/0701_Sinclair_at_the_Worlds_Fair
Okay, so I’m watching the video right now and have to comment on this cool thing. A 3-D printing machine (yes, in 1964), actually it’s a mold, where visitors can make their own Sinclair the dinosaur by dropping a coin in the machine and watching as plastic is compressed and having a little dinosaur drop out of the machine (at the 12:30 mark in the video).
Another book, 30 years of progress, 1934-1964 : Department of Parks : 300th anniversary of the City of New York : New York World’s Fair covers the various projects required to make NY parks and ultimately what would be required to build the site that the fair would rest upon. This involved massive landfill projects and the like which also extended the land. This particular book covers a whole lot more; however, and details the improvements to all of NYC’s parks and recreation facilities.
Another quick find is a dinner that hosted the founders of the World’s Fair and is kind of a who’s who with regard to those who significantly contributed to making it happen. The program for the dinner event can be found here and is a fascinating look at the culture of NY society in the 60’s.
There are tons of material for the 1939 NY World’s Fair but I’m going to cover that in another post since there is so much and it deserves a place of its own. Disappointingly enough, there is not enough of material yet posted about the 1964-65 event which I would have liked to see. Scanning sometimes requires the destruction of the books and material being scanned so I would hesitate to think that someone would desire to do this since much of the existing material left is in the hands of collectors, like myself.