Tuesday
Jan032012

Here's to a great 2012, and a quick look back at 2011

2011 was an amazing year for our project. As you can see on the map, we covered a lot of ground, with over a dozen sites visited around the eastern half of the country, including our two-week midwest road trip. Along the way, we met a lot of great people, many of which led us to even more people to interview, and even more fair-related sites to visit.

When I started on this documentary, I thought this would be just about the time we would be kicking back, and enjoying watching the final cut of the film. However, we've had so many fascinating additional paths to explore, that we now have most likely another 10 to 12 months of shooting. That's good news though, as it will give us the time to make a better, more fitting tribute to this fascinating event of American history.

Thank you to everyone who has visited the site, friended us on facebook, donated footage, pointed us to a great interview, and made donations to keep the project going. I'm looking forward to what is sure to be a challenging and ultimately enjoyable year of filming.

Thursday
Nov102011

A World's Fair pavilion hides in plain sight

Spain Pavilion, 1964 Photo: Alan LovitchIf you're a baseball fan, you probably watched at least a portion of this year's World Series between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals. If you also happen to be a fan of World's Fair relics (hey, you're on this site now, aren't you?) then you might not have known that you were occasionally seeing a pavilion from the fair, hidden in plain sight.

The Spain pavilion from the fair was re-located to St. Louis after the fair, with high hopes for it to be a tourism destination. Unfortunately, most people don't even know it is there. Today the pavilion, or more precisely, its exterior walls, serve as the lobby for the St. Louis Hilton. The hotel happens to be right next to Busch Stadium, with several rooms having views of the field. So in several of the wide, aerial shots of the stadium, millions of people were seeing a World's Fair pavilion, without even knowing it.

As a sidenote, along with the pavilion, a six-foot plus bronze sculpture of the first Queen of Spain also moved to St. Louis. If you go to the hotel hoping to see the Queen, you won't find her. She's in hiding right now, but we found her. Stay tuned...

St. Louis Hilton & Busch Stadium 

 

Wednesday
Sep282011

World's Fair dinosaurs stand guard In Texas

Travel about an hour west of Dallas TX, past acres and acres of ranches and natural gas drilling sites, and you come to the quiet town of Glen Rose. 

Today, Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX, stands where a fascinating discovery was made that ultimately led to this tiny town becoming home to two of the Sinclair Oil dinosaurs from the World's Fair. As Maude at the park gift shop explained to us, (and she'd be happy to tell you as well, if you visit) through a series of coincidences, Roland T. Bird from the American Museum of Natural History visited the area in 1938, after receiving word of a set of dinosaur tracks in the area. Bird ended up removing a portion of the tracks for inclusion in the museum. Thankfully plenty of tracks remain, and the park is home to some of the best preserved dinosaur tracks in the world, specifically from sauropods and theropods. 

The Sinclair dinosaurs from the 1964-65 NY World' Fair ended up on display throughout the US. After the travelling tour of the Sinclair dinosaurs was complete, in 1970 ARCO (who had purchased Sinclair Oil) donated the T-Rex and Brontosaurus (or Apatosaurus) to the park. They now stand and keep watch over real dinosaur tracks! If you find yourself near Dallas TX with an afternoon to spare, be sure to stop by Glen Rose, and say hi to Maude for us!

Tuesday
Aug092011

One Fair Relic You Can Never "Tire" Of Seeing

 

Sorry for the bad pun folks, but I couldn't resist. We are finally back from a road trip visiting several World's Fair legacies. Our first stop was the "giant tire" outside of Detroit Michigan, along Interstate 94.

Billed as "the world's largest tire" (and we tend to agree) today it serves as a billboard of sorts for Uniroyal tires.

In 1964-65 it was one of the most unusual ferris wheels in the world. When it was part of fair, the ferris wheel gondolas went inside the two outer walls of the tire.

While we got some great video and photos of the tire, the mystery of just what might be lurking behind the door at its base remains a mystery...

Anyone have any memories of being on the U.S. Tire ferris wheel at the fair?

Wednesday
Jul062011

Long Before Skype, There Was The Bell Picturephone

Courtesy of AT&T Archives.Today, a growing number of people use two-way video communication, whether its on their computers with Skype and similar services, on their iPhones via FaceTime, or perhaps at work through a high-end telepresence system. Of course the world was much different in 1964. Back then, there were five of Bell telephone's new-fangled Picturephones at the World's Fair.

With the help of a lovely phone attendant, fair goers could be treated to audio AND video communications to the other Picturephones.

AT&T Archivist Bill Coughlin with the Picturephone.We had a chance to visit the AT&T archives where archivists Bill Coughlin and George Kupczek showed us one of the two Picturephones in AT&T's collection. (I should point out here for the younger crowd that Bell Telephone was essentially a single, nationwide phone company that was broken into several "baby-Bells" in the 1980's.)

In our interview with him, Bill mentioned the service was aimed primarily at business users, and never really took off, in part due to the specialized equipment needed on both ends. It's interesting to me that today, (relatively speaking) the amount of business video conferencing is dwarfed by all of the casual video interactions people are having every day.

A special thanks to Bill and George for making the Picturephone and AT&T's rare fair materials available for the film.

 One of two Picturephones in the archive.