The theme of the fair at Flushing Meadows Corona Park was “Peace Through Understanding.” The Unisphere, dedicated to “Man's Achievements on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe,” would become an immediate iconic symbol.
It represented the earth and international dependency, and signified the beginning of the Space Age. Standing 140 feet high with a diameter of 120 feet, at the time the Unisphere was the largest structure in the world fabricated entirely of stainless steel. It weighs 470 tons.
The Fountain of the Fairs created the illusion of the Unisphere floating off the ground.
“My late friend Dolores Bedford Clarke’s husband, civil engineer and renowned landscape architect Gilmore D. Clarke, designed the Unisphere and the landscaping of the 1964 World 's Fair,” said Randy Faerber.
She reminisced her own experience at the fair when she was 13.
“I remember thinking this really made Queens a world stage,” Faerber said. “It made Queens, the little borough of my birth, suddenly rise in importance. We felt like an international destination.”
Florida resident Peggy Stein was a young child, but recalls her experience vividly.
“My mother talked my grandfather into taking us by subway from Brooklyn, and we had a day filled with adventure, great food, and great exhibits,” she said. “Stein also visited on school trips and Scouts Day.
“I was a Brownie and shook hands with Mayor Lindsay,” Stein recalled. “On another occasion, we visited as a family to celebrate my First Communion, and I saw comedian and actor Milton Berle.”
She fondly recalled other exhibits and still has a package of souvenir postcards.
“The General Motors exhibit was great, since we got to ride in cars, and the Sinclair Dinoland exhibit was jaw-dropping and huge,” Stein said. “We walked to the new ball field and sat in Shea Stadium, which was a thrill.”
Former JHS 157 drama teacher Adrienne Gelfand-Perine was raised in Laurelton. She lamented the neglect of the New York State Pavilion over the years.
“I will never understand why the city didn’t keep this as the park’s focal point,” she said.
She can still visualize the General Electric pavilion.
“I remember sitting in a moving car that turned to face vignettes of technological advances in home living,” she said. “I am so attracted to color and design, it was fascinating.”
The international dance performances also come to mind.
“I loved watching the entertainment from different countries,” she said.
Musician Hector Rivera, who attended J.H.S. 64 in Brooklyn and was part of the orchestra’s cello department, recalls the New York State Pavilion’s acoustics as phenomenal.
“I was raised in a large Puerto Rican family in East New York, so the only music I got to hear was rock n’ roll and salsa, but my music studies changed my life,” he said. “How exciting it was for the Berriman Junior High School Orchestra to play at the 1964 World’s Fair. It was the beginning of my love for classical music.”
Maryann Fields remembers attending the fair with her six-year-old sister Lenora, cousins Anthony and Bobby, aunt Ann and uncle Dom when she was eight.
“I remember talking on Disney phones to the Disney characters at the General Electric Carousel of Progress,” she said. “I spoke with Donald Duck and my sister spoke to Mickey Mouse.”
“My friend Dick Caruso sang and danced as part of the cast of ‘West Side Story,’ and did several performances daily,” said Rego Park resident Marjorie Melikian. “I can still see the gorgeous fountains with colored lights that played over them.”
During the 1965 season, Lynn Goodman worked at The Travelers Insurance Companies pavilion, which showcased a story of life on earth, beginning with a single cell and ending in a leap into space. Besides that highlight within itself, she said,
“Other highlights were a luncheon at the Heliport [later Terrace on the Park] with Robert Moses, and meeting people from all over the world,” she said.
Cherie Fischer Rosen feels fortunate to have her father Harvey Fischer’s photos.
“He was an aerial photographer for the Navy, and got some great shots of the 1964 World's Fair,” she said. “When I look at these photos, it always makes me wonder what these places were like, and I’m fascinated by the differences and similarities today. Having his photos is definitely a way to keep my dad's memory alive.”