Modernism Exalted: The 1964 World’s Fair (With Videos)

I shall start from the end. I ask the question, “What still remains of the 1964 World’s Fair?”

The location of both the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fair are presently occupied by Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. Indeed, two World’s Fairs were held at the same location. Previous to the 1939 occasion, a dump majestically blessed the place with copious mounds of ash, which the holders of the event found necessary to remove. The 1939 Fair was also a celebration of modernism and is known for its’ futuristic architecture and themes.

1939 World's Fair featuring the Trylon and Perisphere

1939 World’s Fair featuring the Trylon and Perisphere

1939 World's Fair

1939 World’s Fair

Perhaps an examination of the 1939 World’s Fair is also in order at a later time.

The iconic symbol of the 1964 World’s Fair, the Unisphere, still dominates the surrounding area and the water features remain that provided the dramatic vistas except they are no longer used due to the ready enthusiasm of people to take a plunge. The fountains are occasionally turned on during the US Open Tennis Tournament at reduced flow.

The New York State Pavilion:

The Hall of Science still exists:


Frederick MacMonnies’ statue Civic Virtues originally stood on the Court of States, but has since been moved to the main entrance to the Arthur Ashe US Tennis Center.

The New York City Building is another building extant and used temporarily as housing for the United Nations before this organization moved into its’ own modernist structure. The New York City Building held a remarkable, lilliputian model of New York City of the time with around 800,000 miniatures. It later became the Queens Museum of Art.

Originally designed by Aymar Embury for the 1939 World’s Fair, it obviously was reused for 1964.


Model of New York City inside the New York City Building or the Queens Museum of Art:


Forms in Transit by Theodore Roszak, near the Hall of Science, is an idealist representation of flight:

Free form is a sculpture by Jose De Rivera intended to slowly rotate:

The Rocket Thrower bronze sculpture designed by Donald De Lue:


A bit more than what one sees here still exists from the 1964 event, but let’s move on to what did exist.

I won’t repeat what we have already seen.

General Electric’s Progressland by Walt Disney (See this link for original brochures):

The Dupont Wonderful World of Chemistry:

General Motor’s Avenue of Progress:

Chrysler Theater:

The Ford Pavilion or Rotunda:

It’s a Small World by Disney sponsored by Pepsi Cola:

Chrysler’s Engineering Island:

Coca Cola Pavilion:

Royal Tires:

T&T Building:

Mormon Pavilion (a scale reproduction of the temple in Salt Lake City):

IBM Pavilion:

Charles and Ray Eames were instrumental in furnishing the IBM Pavilion:

Pavilion of the United States:

Spanish Pavilion:

Sinclair Oil Company at the World’s Fair. (Notice the upward posture of the tyrannosaur which is not at all in conformance with current knowledge.) :

Bell Telephone:


Vatican Pavilion:

Michelangelo’s marble masterpiece, the Pieta at the Vatican Pavilion:

Edison Electric Power and Light:

Kodak Pavilion:

We have only scratched the surface. The 1964 World’s Fair had 145 pavilions. Here are some miscellaneous views of the fair:






Due to the extensive nature of this fair and in particular the modernist buildings constructed, a further examination will have to come at a future time. Many of the major names in modernist architecture were involved in the construction of the various pavilions, people such as Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen and Philip Johnson, for instance. The notes on these individuals will be added later.

I hope you enjoyed the fair.




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