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End of the Innocence

The 1964-1965 New York World's Fair

Lawrence R. Samuel

Publication Year: 2010

From April 1964 to October 1965, some 52 million people from around the world flocked to the New York World’s Fair, an experience that lives on in the memory of many individuals and in America’s collective consciousness. Taking a perceptive look back at "the last of the great world’s fairs," Samuel offers a vivid portrait of this seminal event and of the cultural climate that surrounded it. He also counters critics’ assessments of the fair as the "ugly duckling" of global expositions. Opening five months after President Kennedy’s assassination, the fair allowed millions to celebrate international fellowship while the conflict in Vietnam came to a boil. This event was perhaps the last time so many from so far could gather to praise harmony while ignoring cruel realities on such a gargantuan scale. This world’s fair glorified the postwar American dream of limitless optimism even as a counterculture of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll came into being. It could rightly be called the last gasp of that dream: The End of the Innocence. Samuel’s work charts the fair from inception in 1959 to demolition in 1966 and provides a broad overview of the social and cultural dynamics that led to the birth of the event. It also traces thematic aspects of the fair, with its focus on science, technology, and the world of the future. Accessible, entertaining, and informative, the book is richly illustrated with contemporary photographs.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page

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Copyright

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Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-

Thanks to Glenn Wright and all the other fine folks at Syracuse University Press. Much gratitude to all the information specialists at the New York Public Library and the New York Historical Society who helped steer me the right way. Special thanks to Bill Cotter for the photos used in this book (information on his...

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Introduction

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pp. xiii-xxiii

Next time you’re in the city so nice they named it twice, take a walk in the park. Not Central Park, but one that’s half again as big and is even more of a central park, located in the geographic and population bull’s-eye of New York City. It’s Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Queens where, before the soccer players, picnickers, and best tennis players on the planet took it over, the last great...

Part One: Peace Through Understanding

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1. The Greatest Event in History

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pp. 3-31

In 1958, four men in new york city found themselves chatting about the problems of modern education. After considerable banter, the men came to the conclusion that American schools were not very good at teaching children about other people, especially people from other countries. One of the men, Robert Kopple, a forty-eight-year-old lawyer with a wife and two daughters, knew this was...

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2. Heigh Ho, Ho Hum

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pp. 32-60

At exactly 9:00 a.m. on April 22, 1964, Bill Turchyn, an eighteen-year-old student from New Jersey, entered Gate 1 at the fairgrounds in Flushing Meadows, becoming the first official visitor to the 1964–65 New York World’s Fair. Right behind Mr. Turchyn was Michael Catan, who claimed he was the first to enter the last New York world’s fair in 1939, and Al Carter, who said he was first in line at the...

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3. Second Time Around

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pp. 61-88

One day during the winter of 1964–65, the mayor of New York City found himself driving along the Long Island Expressway. Passing the deserted fairgrounds, Mayor Wagner found the site rather depressing, as debris swirled around what he later likened to “some ghost town on Mars.”¹ The Unisphere was capped with ice, another reminder that the first season of the world’s fair seemed...

Part Two: Tomorrow Begins Today

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4. The House of Good Taste

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pp. 91-123

On May 1, 1964, more than two hundred dignitaries gathered at the World’s Fair to pay homage to America’s free-enterprise system. The occasion was the dedication of the Hall of Free Enterprise in the International Area, highlighted by the lighting of the “Torch of Truth” on top of the pavilion. The irony of it being May Day was likely not missed on those individuals in attendance, some of whom seized...

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5. Global Holiday

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pp. 124-163

Had you boarded the Swiss Sky Ride in Flushing Meadows in 1964 or 1965, as millions of fairgoers did, consider the sights, sounds, and smells directly beneath you as you skimmed over the International Area and then the Federal and State Area. Look left during your seventy-five-cent, four-and-a-half-minute ride, and you may very well have observed a Chinese pagoda, Buddhist shrine, Japanese...

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6. Sermons from Science

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pp. 164-197

Had one visited the fair on June 3, 1964, one might have seen hundreds of men eating lunch at the Louisiana Pavilion and, after their crab cakes and Rheingolds, taking a tour of certain buildings. The men were contractors, engineers, architects, and building-code officials from across the country, interested in, as a movie in a few years would make famous, just one word: plastics. It was...

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Conclusion

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pp. 198-200

Although his world’s fair may very well have put an end to his already damaged career, Robert Moses, as usual, is no doubt having the last laugh in the big construction site in the sky. Largely obscured in the critical maelstrom that has swirled around Moses and the Fair as a whole is that he achieved much of his original vision for that particular piece of New York City and fulfilled his primary...

Notes

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pp. 203-231

Bibliography

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pp. 233-234

Index

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pp. 235-243


E-ISBN-13: 9780815651451
E-ISBN-10: 0815651457
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815609568
Print-ISBN-10: 0815609566

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 55 black and white illustrations
Publication Year: 2010