The Transportation Exhibits at the 1964/1965 NY World’s Fair

I collect maps. Unlike most other things I collect (cars, tools, books, cameras), maps take up very little space. I can bring home a few maps and slip them into my collection without it raising an eyebrow.

When I attend automotive flea markets, typically Carlisle and Hershey, I see vendors who specialize in maps, and vendors who happen to have a box of maps along with other stuff. Map collecting is a subset of the automotive hobby, and the map specialists recognize this and price their wares accordingly. I don’t know what makes one map more valuable than another, but obviously, age, condition, and rarity all play a part. I tend to do most of my pickin’ at the vendors who are not specialists.

A few years back, rifling through a box of maps at one of these shows, I came across a copy of the “official” map of the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. It was in like-new condition, and while I don’t recall the exact price I paid, it was five dollars or less. I thought that was a sweet deal, especially since I didn’t own a copy.

 

The map’s cover and some general information

Although I attended the ’64-’65 NY World’s Fair six times with my family, I have only fleeting memories of it. I was just a kid, and as if you need the reminder, this was 56 years ago. So the map was a welcome way to revisit the event. It came as a surprise to me to see that the exhibits were arranged by category: Industrial, International, Federal and State, and Transportation.

 

The complete exhibit map

In Transportation, the buildings from Ford and GM dominated. Everything else (Chrysler Corporation, rental car companies, oil companies, and suppliers) was small potatoes compared to these behemoths. (Notably absent was Rambler/American Motors; even back then their budget was so tight that they had to sit this one out.) If the full map is done to scale, and it likely is, then it appears that the Ford Motor Company exhibit may have been the single largest building at the Fair. (In an earlier blog post, I had shown a postcard image of the GM building from this Fair.)

 

The Transportation exhibits

Look at the index which is part of the map. The ‘time’ next to each exhibit name indicates the approximate amount of time needed to tour the exhibit. This was intended as a way for attendees plan their day, and (as the fair organizers hoped) realize that a return visit would be necessary to see it all. GM, Ford, AND Chrysler each have a recommended visit length of one hour.

 

The index of Transportation exhibits

When the Fair closed, most of it was torn down with the notable exceptions of the Unisphere and the NY State Pavilion. Flushing Meadow Park, where the Fair was located, still exists, and I visited it in 1984 and took these two photos.

The Unisphere in 1984. Made of stainless steel, it shows no signs of aging.

 

The New York State Pavilion in 1984

 

Then, in 2004, the local Mustang Club invited a select few of us back to the Park for the unveiling of the new 2005 Mustang, replicating the launch of the new 1964 ½ Mustang at the NY World’s Fair in April ’64. A photo of my 1968 California Special at that event, with the Unisphere in the background, made its way into the Mustang GT/CS Recognition Guide & Owner’s Manual (3rd Edition) by Paul M. Newitt.

My GT/CS is in the upper right corner

If you visited the Fair, I hope that some of this brings back pleasant memories. If you were not able to visit, I hope that you can marvel at what seemed so futuristic to us in the mid-‘60s.

 

All photographs copyright © 2020 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

5 thoughts on “The Transportation Exhibits at the 1964/1965 NY World’s Fair

  1. What a fun find this is, Richard! I was 15 years old when I attended the World’s Fair with my 14-year old neighbor. We took the Eastern Airlines shuttle (a Lockheed Electra powered by 4 turbo props) from Boston to LaGuardia and stayed with his sister who worked in Manhattan. I think the airfare was $15.
    That was my first flight and my first visit to New York City. What an experience. This map is fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    • Hi Fredrick, thank you so much for your comment! You might be the only “out of town” person I’ve heard from who attended the Fair. We were lucky; growing up on Staten Island, a borough of NYC, we had easy access. My dad was infatuated with it, enough to take us six times. I do recall that sometimes we drove (probably a 45-minute ride in those days, more like 2 hours today), and sometimes we took public transit, which meant the Staten Island Ferry, then several subways. I’d estimate that would have been closer to 90 minutes each way, but probably a less expensive alternative. I’m really glad you liked the map.
      Best, Richard

      Like

  2. Hi Rich – Great article about the 64-65 Worlds Fair. Like you I was in my early teens in those years and being a car guy in the making, whenever I went to the Fair, the GM and Ford pavilions were on the “must see” list. I can’t recall how many times I went through those two exhibits but I practically had the narration memorized. Sometimes I went to both several times in one day. Two memories of automobilia that I also recall, was a daredevil car show. I can’t remember the name but I think it was on the pretzel shaped roadway with the grandstands in the lower right corner of the blue diagram. It was cheesy and tacky but hey, it was all about cars and I loved it. Also, I recall that Socony – Mobil had an exhibit about fuel economy. (This when gas was abut 32 cents a gallon!) It was a large hall with simulated driving booths. At the end everyone received a small decal for their car window. Could this have been the origin of the participation trophy. Say hi to the guys for me. I miss NJ.

    Like

  3. Hi John, thanks so much for your comments! Yes, even for, or perhaps especially for us ‘kids’, the ’64-’65 World’s Fair was a special place, made so by all those automotive exhibits.

    As you may have guessed, we have yet to launch a single breakfast run this year. We are all sheltering in place as much as possible. Nice to hear from you, and stay safe!

    Best, Richard

    Like

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.