1964 World's Fair Pavilions: Where Are They Now?

By | April 21, 2021

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New York State pavilion during the World's Fair, Queens, New York, April 1964 (Photo by George Silk/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

The 1964 World's Fair, held in Queens, New York, was a showcase of mid-century optimism. Its famous pavilions touted a bright future of science, technology, convenience and style with wonders including a video phone from Bell Labs, a jet pack and the 1965 Ford Mustang. The pavilions themselves were stunning; General Motors and Coca-Cola summoned architectural visions out of The Jetsons, while other brands went with the obvious crowd pleasers: U.S. Rubber offered an 80-foot ferris wheel disguised as a giant tire, Sinclair hosted a display of life-sized dinosaurs, Austria built a ski lodge suspended from A-frame supports.

What happened to these structures after the fair came to an end in October 1965? A few of them stayed put, others were simply demolished, and still others were transported elsewhere and repurposed.

Man's Achievement On A Shrinking Globe

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The World's Fair, with the Unisphere. Source: (Wikipedia).

The 1964-65 World’s Fair, which was held in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, New York City, was dreamed up by several New York businessmen who remembered the 1939 World’s Fair in New York fondly. Once it was underway, the 1964 Fair had more than 140 pavilions, and 110 restaurants for 80 nations, 24 U.S. states, and more than 45 corporations, which could all build attractions or exhibits; the exhibits, however, were dominated by American companies. It ran from April 22 until October 18, 1964, and then again from April 21 until October 17, 1965. The theme of the World’s Fair was “Peace Through Understanding,” and it was dedicated to “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe.” The symbol of the World’s Fair was the Unisphere, a 12 story-high-stainless steel model of the earth.