Readers share their World’s Fair memories


As the grand opening of the World’s Fair Festival approaches, The Queens Courier is digging up memories of the 1939-40 and 1964-65 World’s Fairs. The World’s Fair experience is still fresh in the memories of our readers, and many have shared their stories.

Mary Maggio was 8 when the 1964-65 World’s Fair was being built.

Photo courtesy of the Greater Astoria Historical Society

“My dad worked in street lighting, so I was actually there before it initially opened up,” she said. Maggio and her mother would go the site to bring her father dinner. “It wasn’t open yet, but it was going to be open soon. I saw construction workers and electricians [preparing for the fair].”
Maggio spoke of the enthusiasm of everyone in Electchester, which was built for electrical workers, where she grew up.

“We all couldn’t wait because it was something spectacular,” she said. “Our parents were there for the ‘39 fair, so they instilled in us — the second generation — that excitement by talking about it.”

Photo courtesy of reader Dean Psomiades / Photo by Bill Psomiades

She remembers the Carousel of Progress at the General Electric pavilion; the Vatican pavilion, which Maggio had to visit with her parochial school; the giant U.S. Royal Tires Ferris wheel; and a water show.

“The water show had people on Jet Skis and a clown who either opened or ended it,” she said. “I sat toward the front so I’d get splashed because it was so hot.”

It’s a Small World “stuck in my head,” Maggio said. “When I went to Disney World as an adult, I got there and the one pavilion I went to was Small World — and it was closed for renovation!”

Photo courtesy of the Greater Astoria Historical Society

Steve Dworkin was a teenager during the 1964-65 World’s Fair.

“That might have been the best time to go to the fair because I went with friends,” he said. “I was sad when they ripped it down.”

Since Dworkin lived in Little Neck, the fair was just “a quick ride” away, he said.

“I don’t remember how many times I went,” he said, but “you had to go there quite a few times to see everything.”

He remembers seeing “a lot of ground-breaking things” at the fair.

Photo courtesy of reader Dean Psomiades/Photo by Bill Psomiades

“Chrysler was showing a car that could run on any combustible fuel,” he said. Supposedly, it would be ready soon, he said — “but 50 years later, we’re still waiting!”

In the Illinois pavilion, visitors entered a theater and saw a figure of Abraham Lincoln sitting on a chair.

“He looks like a statue or wax model, but then he gets up and gives a speech,” Dworkin remembered of the new “audio-animatronics” technology.

According to nywf64.com, Disney’s animated figure recited excerpts of Lincoln’s speeches and was “capable of more than 250,000 combinations of actions, including gestures, smiles and frowns; the facial features were taken from Lincoln’s life mask.”

Dworkin also recalls the “People Wall” at the IBM pavilion: “There was stadium seating, at we sat in the audience. Then, the whole audience gets lifted into a theater 20 feet above ground” for a multi-screen show explaining how the human mind and computers work in similar ways.

For this year’s celebrations, Dworkin said, “I’d love to see a tour — I don’t know if they have one — taking you around the grounds showing where things used to be [in the 1964 World’s Fair].”


Did you or someone you know attend the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park? If yes, The Queens Courier is asking you to share your memorabilia and/or memories with us to commemorate the event’s 50th anniversary this April. You could win a dinner for two. Please email your entries to editorial@queenscourier.com with the subject line “World’s Fair Anniversary” or to Editorial, 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361. Note: All photos/items become property of The Queens Courier.



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