Monday
Jun132011

Part of the fair ends up on a rooftop in South Carolina

You never know where you might find pieces of the fair... Take, for example, the rotating platform that was part of the Festival of Gas pavilion, sponsored by the U.S. gas industry. At the fair, the platform served as part of an exhibit aimed at showing all the wondrous appliances you could get in the near future. Oh, and they just happened to be gas powered. The large platform went into storage following the fair.

Meanwhile in Columbia, South Carolina, plans were being made for a new building at the University of South Carolina. According to the Spring 1967 edition of USC Magazine, the university decided a rotating restaurant was just the thing to top the new Capstone Building residence hall.

"South Carolina will soon have an attraction comparable to those of Seattle, London, an other major cities," the magazine proclaimed. But where to find the rotating platform required for such an ambitious project? As luck would have it, the answer was sitting in a storage facility outside of New York City: The turntable from the Festival of Gas exhibit.

As Helen Zeigler, the University of South Carolina's Vice President of Business and Facilities Management explained to us, the Festival of Gas turntable was within three inches of the clearance space of the rotating restaurant design. That sheer coincidence made the turntable a perfect candidate for the project.

Today, the space serves home to the Top of Carolina restaurant, and is open to the public on Sundays. The stunning vistas of the Columbia area make the space a popular meeting/event destination too.

It was a great visit, and we look forward to taking you there as part of the film.

 

Thursday
Apr212011

We're Opening Season Two of the Fair Today!

Just like the World's Fair itself, we took a bit of a break over the winter here on the blog, but to commemorate the 46th anniversary of the second season of the fair, I wanted to officially re-open the blog as it were.

We will still be taking some time off from the podcast for a bit, as I want to make it more appealing, and packed with more fun facts about the fair itself, and not just the project.

So look for (at least) weekly updates starting soon, and welcome to the fair!

 

Tuesday
Jan252011

A legacy of the fair goes up in flames

It's disappointing to report the Austrian pavilion from the fair, which has been in service as the ski lodge at the Cockaigne ski resort for over 40 years was destroyed by fire last night. No one was injured.

We had just visited the resort earlier this month to shoot an interview with the owner of the resort, Jack VanScoter. We had planned on returning to do more detailed shooting later in the season. Jack and his entire staff were wonderful and accommodating. Even though we'd only visited once, it was clear how special Cockaigne was to the community and those who worked there.

Time will tell whether the resort can re-build. Our hearts go out to Jack and all the employees at Cockaigne.

Cockaigne fire devastates employees: wivb.com

Thursday
Jan062011

A Project Recap and Roadmap

First, I want to say a belated Happy New Year to everyone, and thank you for visiting the site and supporting the film. You are the reason this project is possible, and I'm very thankful for that.

I figured the beginning of the New Year would also be a good time to recap where we are with the project, and give you a quick look at the work ahead.

First a look back:

INTERVIEWS:

Rolly Crump, Disney Imagineer and artist who was responsible for the creation of the large, playful Tower of the Four Winds sculpture outside the It's A Small World exhibit, and who also helped with the design of elements of Disney's other fair attractions.

 

Bob Gurr, Disney Imagineer and engineer who was responsible for the ride vehicle systems in the Disney attractions at the fair. Both Gurr and Crump have long and colorful histories at Disney beyond the fair, and their stories alone would fill a feature movie.

 

Tom Finkelpearl, Director, Queens Museum of Art. The Queens Museum of Art houses one of the most unique relics of the fair: the giant panorama of New York City, that offers a view unlike any other.

 

 Eric Siegel, Director, New York Hall of Science. As you probably know, the Hall of Science was an original part of the fair. Siegel told us about the history of the structure, and future plans which will bring the public closer to some of the most iconic space within the building.

 

Don Fisher, President, Railroad Museum of Long Island. Fisher talked to us about the loving restoration of the amusement-gauge train that was originally part of the Long Island Railroad exhibit at the fair. The train has been through quite a winding path to end up at the museum, and Don and his volunteers are great ambassadors for the train.

Mitch Silverstein was kind enough to share his extensive collection of World's Fair memorabilia, and to talk about his efforts to help bring a bit of dignity to the long-neglected New York State Pavilion.

 

LOCATIONS:

We've also had a great time visiting objects and buildings from the fair, around the country, including, of course Disneyland in Anaheim(home to It's a Small World), Walt Disney World in Orlando(The Carousel of Progress), Camp Ramah in the Poconos (you'll have to see the movie, or read back through the blog to find out why), and The Avis headquarters in New Jersey (home to the last antique car from the Avis attraction). I know there are a few others that I'm forgetting, but the point is that all in all, it's been a great start to the project, but there's a lot left to do.

THE NEXT NINE MONTHS:

I'm a bit superstitious about not mentioning specific places we're headed, just because I would hate to see any of those trips not happen, and leave people disappointed. The same goes for interviews. All I can say for now is, we've got probably a dozen more locations, and at least six more key interviews. It promises to be a fun, but stressful time. The goal is to finish the film for release in time for the 48th anniversary of the opening of the fair on April 24, 2012. 

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

As you may know, this is a self/fan-funded endeavor. I can tell you that the movie we want to make, and the amount in the bank account to make it aren't quite the same thing. That's why I hope if you're as passionate about getting this story told as I am, that you'll click on the support us link. You can make a donation, and support us through Amazon purchases you already make.

If you attended the fair, we are looking for home movie footage from as many different people as possible. If you are interested in contributing your footage to the film, please send me an email.

Everyone we've met in doing this project has been so supportive. I have to tell you, when I first thought about doing a film about the fair, I wondered if anyone would care. What I have learned from those who were there, and those who only know the legend of the fair, is that people really do care, and want to make sure this fair and its legacy are not forgotten. 

Happy 2011, everyone!

Saturday
Oct232010

Long before Google, there was the Panorama

This past week, we had a chance to shoot an interview with Tom Finkelpearl, the Executive Director of the Queens Museum of Art. While we talked about how the legacy of the fair has influenced the museum, and the expansion plans for the site (located in the New York City pavilion, originally in the 1939-40 fair), the highlight of visiting the museum for me is always the panorama of New York City. Robert Moses had the panorama built for the 1964-65 World's Fair, not only as a fascinating attraction, but also as a practical planning tool for the city. Finkelpearl told us how to this day, various agencies will stop by and use the huge, detailed panorama to help plan for city expansion/disaster recovery, etc.

Tom Finkelpearl, Exec. Director, Queens Museum of Art

At the fair, you travelled slowly over the panorama, which must have made it nearly impossible to take in all the detail. Today, a walkway starts near the level of the panorama, and goes around the entire perimeter (even over a portion of the panorama) rising to give a bird's eye view. Fortunately, these days you can linger as long as you want, and pick out city landmarks, or maybe even your home if you reside in New York City. Truly one of the lasting legacies of the fair.