Deplorable Conditions

"Deplorable condition." Those were the words used by Canada Dry Corporation to describe the Better Living Center on Opening Day of the Fair. While it is true that the Better Living Center became home for a number of exhibitors who found themselves homeless following the failure of the World of Food pavilion just prior to the opening of the Fair, the unfinished condition of the Better Living Center appears to have not been a direct result of the installation of the latecomers' exhibits. The following exchange of New York World's Fair 1964-1965 Corporation memos and letters of correspondence, gleaned from the files of the New York World's Fair Corporation, help to shed some light on the conditions exhibitors and Fairgoers had to contend with during the first few months of the Fair.

                May 5, 1964

    TO  : Mr. J. J. Manning, Executive Official
    FROM : Mr. W. J. Hyland, Director of Safety
    SUBJECT  : Better Living Pavilion

It has been brought to our attention that the above pavilion is completely opened to the public and is functioning without a Certificate of Occupancy or an Operations Permit. We have visited these premises twice within two days to warn them about complete intermingling of members of the public and construction workers throughout the premises.

Due to the fact that no cooperation was in evidence we discussed this matter with Mr. Witt and Mr. Bond on Monday morning May 4th.

Mr. Witt immediately advised Mr. Martin Stone, Director of Industrial Exhibits for the Fair Corporation, of this situation, and Mr. Stone arranged at once for a meeting with Mr. Edward H. Burge, President of the Company, who owns the Better Living Pavilion. This meeting was held at 4 P.M. Monday afternoon and was attended by Mr. Stone, Mr. Burge, Mr. Bond, Fair Corporation Safety Engineer, and the writer.

Previous to this meeting the writer made a joint survey of the pavilion with Mr. Bond and Mr. Burns, a representative of the Insurance Carrier, in order that a complete report could be given to Mr. Burge at the meeting.

We explained it to Mr. Burge that it was the writer's opinion that the entire building should be closed down until all construction work was completed. Mr. Burge however agreed to get busy immediately and take all the necessary steps to completely barricade the public from all work areas. This was also agreed to by Mr. Stone.

Mr. Bond was to investigate the situation with regards to Certificate of Occupancy and Operations Permit.

In addition to notifying Mr. Burge about barricading the work areas to keep members of the public out the following items were called to his attention with the request that they be taken care of at once.


1. It is noted that the elevators were being operated by employees of the Allied Maintenance Corporation.
2. Welding operations were being conducted on the roof with insufficient protection to the members of the public.
3. There were no lights on the stairs leading to the roof level from the floor below nor was there any prevention made to same.
4. There were no barricades across the opening of the stairway leading from the roof to the lower floors to prevent members of the public from falling into these stair openings.
5. The restaurant entrance on the roof are by means of sliding door panels. There is no break in the continuity of the glass panels of these doors.
6. The procedure for handling soild dishes and garbage now being done by restaurant employees on the open roof is decidedly unsanitary. This has been refered to Col. Gale of Health and Sanitation who advised he was aware of this situation and was taking the necessary corrective measures. We also advised Co. Gale of unsanitary food handling by concessionaires and Col. Gale has agreed to investigate. At present beach umbrellas now on the open roof, when opened, could easily be lifted over the guardrail and dropped to the roadway or sidewalk in a heavy wind storm.
7. The projecting pipe in the cement floor near the dumb waiter on the open roof provides a survere hazard and should be removed.
8. All loose canvas, lumber and other construction material now on the open roof should be removed or securely lashed down. The missing cover on the live panel boxes on the roof should be replaced and securely fastened.
9. At present handrails and guardrails throughout the entire building appear to be blow the minimum of 36 inches measured vertically from the floor. This holds true on ramps and around mezzanine floors throughout the premises. They should be lifted to a height of no less than 36 inches from the floor.


10. The temporary wiring and lights in the public washrooms on the roof and the floor below should be removed and permanent installation made.
11. The temporary direction signs apparently erected by the exhibitors directing the public into construction areas should be removed and these areas barricaded as requested above.
12. Suitable barricading should be erected around the refuse at the rear entrance to the building from the roadway. The entrance doors to the building at this location should be kept closed and locked at all times when not in use by construction workers to prohibit the public from entering the premises through these doors at the first floor.
13. The broken glass panel in one of the main entrance doors should be repaired. NOTE: We were advised by the Pinkerton men stationed at these entrance doors that this glass panel was broken the night before, but at the time of the inspection no attempt has been made to remove the jaggered broken glass and install a new glass panel. It was also noted that two large pieces of broken glass from this door had been placed against the wall where the public could come in contact with it. Temporary blocking was done by putting potted plants in front of the broken door to keep the public away.
14. The hexagonal shaped tile flooring in the lobby and from the curb to the building line should be securely fastened in place by proper grouting. At present these tiles are loose and keep projecting out forming a tripping hazard.
15. Approved lighting should be installed over ramps leading from floor to floor inside the building.
16. All construction material at present being stored in the public areas outside of the construction work areas should be removed and stored in a suitable location.


A list of the above items were given to Mr. Burge together with the following list submitted by Mr. Bond as the result of a previous servey made by him.


1. The machine room for the exterior elevators reached by means of a spiral stairway from the roof is accessible to the public.
2. All propane and other bottled gas tanks located throughout the building should be removed.
3. A supply of gasoline in an unapproved container was observed on the floor near the Van Display on the 4th floor.
4. The penthouse terrace, rear section, was found loaded with debris (garbage).
5 Temporary wiring was found in use in several locations.
6. Holes and decided tripping hazards were observed at the floor of the entrance, passage elevator entry.
7. A number of junction boxes, outlets and other electrical gear were observed exposed and protruding from floors and walls in public areas.


From the above it can be seen that considerable work has to be done before this building can be made safe for public use.

We have just received a phone call this morning Tuesday May 5th from Mr. Russ Mathews, in charge of building, who has advised the writer that he has kept a crew on all night complying with our recommendations and is keeping a day crew on today doing the same thing and has requested we visit with him before noon to check the progress made. This we have agreed to do.

              W. J. HYLAND
              Director of Safety
Col. T .J. O'Neill
Mr. Bond, Safety Engineer, World's Fair Corp.
Mr. Stone, Director of Industrial Exhibits

    J. J. Manning
    Executive Official


    May 6, 1964

    W. J. Hyland
    Director of Safety
    Better Living Building 

Supplementary to our report of May 5th on the above pavilion the writer today resurveyed this building accompanied by Mr. Burge, President of the Corporation owning the building, Mr. Campbell, Resident Engineer for the Company owning the building and Mr. Russell Mathews, Building Manager.

Mr. Mathews on Mr. Burge's instruction had a crew work all night barricading the work areas still under construction to prevent the public from walking into these areas.

In addition, Mr. Mathews has a crew working all day completing compliance with the suggestions given and hopes to have everything taken care of before tonight.

Mr. Mathews has shut down the outside elevators and has blocked off the entrance to them at the ground level. He has also barricaded the entrance to these elevators from the roof promenade.

On the roof he has removed all tables and all umbrellas and has closed all sliding door panels to keep the public off the outside promenade.

In addition, he has placed rope barricades on the stairways from the roof promenade to the lower floors and has placed gummed paper across all glass doors and panels at eye level to break up the continuity of the panels as requested. The public can only reach the restaurant now by using the inside elevators.

With regard to the soiled dishes and garbage problem mentioned in our report of May 4th, we have discussed this with Col. Gale who is fully aware of the existing conditions and is instituting corrective action with the Hilton Hotel people who are operating this restaurant.


Mr. Mathews advised that orders have been issued to install lights outlets on the stairs leading to the lower level from the roof. He has also issued orders to install temporary lights over the ramps inside the building at all floors.

He has removed the temporary lights and wiring in the public washrooms on the roof floor and the floor below and has arranged permanent installation of the light fixtures. He has erected suitable barricades preventing the public from work areas still under construction and has a corp of carpenters making continuous checkups to replace all barricades removed by construction workmen.

All exposed wiring outlets have been protected by placing display platforms over these outlets as originally intended and he is watching the exhibitors to see that they do not remove same.

He has had his electricians go through the building and remove all unauthorized wiring erected by exhibitors.

He has also removed all excess construction equipment and all construction equipment previously left exposed in the exhibitors areas has now been placed behind the barricade in the work area.

At the ground floor he has given orders to the contractor (they were observed working) to secure the tile in the lobby and the promenade in front the building from the building line to the curb.

Mr. Mathews has done an excellent job within 12 hours after our talk with Mr. Burge when we ordered this work done and with the follow through that he has instituted and the continuous patrol to replace the barricades we feel that the public is now being given adequate protection. This situation will however be watched continuously by the writer or members of his staff.


The broken glass panel in the main entrance door has not been replaced as yet, but the door has been closed off by means of potted plants and the Pinkerton men that are on guard at these doors have been instructed to see that these plants remain in place.

In view of this beginning we feel that the unnecessary exposure to members of the public has been greatly reduced, but will will continue to check out this building at periodic intervals both night and day.

              W. J. HYLAND
              Director of Safety
Col. O'Neill, Charge of Security
Mr. Stone, Director of Industrial Exhibits
Mr. Bond, Safety Engineer, World's Fair Corp.

              May 26, 1964
Mr. Rex Reichert
Rex Reichert Associates, Inc.
11 North Madison Street
Boyerstown, Pennsylvania
Dear Mr. Reichert:
In response to your letter of May 21, 1964, and also to our telephone conversation which dealt with the same topic, namely the present condition of the Better Living Center, as I mentioned to you during our telephone call, there are very great problems inherent in effectively coordinating and installing in excess of 125 exhibitors in a building of the nature and size of ours. During the first several weeks of operation, conditions throughout the building were somewhat hectic due to the continuous necessity of installing major exhibits, even though the building itself had for some time been completely constructed. During our conversation, I mentioned to you that this condition was vastly improved as by this date the majority of exhibitors are installed and the building has, in the main, taken on an aspect of complete integration. More specifically, the third floor containing the Hilton International Restaurant, Marco Polo Club and the Women's Headquarters has been completed since the opening date and is, in our opinion, a very attractive asset. The third floor is now substantially complete with the exception of the Whirlpool miracle kitchen of which the final assembly is being made behind an enclosure and should be operable by the end of this week. The other major exhibitors on this floor such as Hershey, Canada Dry, Sunshine and Borden's with their musical production featuring Elsie the Cow have been completed and operating for some time. Last Friday evening the Art Gallery featuring Four Centuries of American Masterpieces, under the joint sponsorship of the Skowhegen School of Painting and Sculpture and the Better Living Center, was officially opened to the public.

Mr. Rex Reichert

May 26, 1964

Rex Reichert Associates, Inc.

Page 2

The second mezzanine, which during the first few weeks of operation contained some small incomplete exhibits and exhibitors who were obnoxious and noisy, has been reorganized and the undesirable elements either removed or repositioned so that the overall traffic flow and quality of exhibition is at a satisfactory level.
Several exhibits on the second floor in the vicinity of Crystal Palace have been rearranged and the area to which you made specific reference in your letter has been closed down and is presently being completely redesigned so that it will complement the Crystal Palace area. The Palace itself is undergoing a moderate reorganization and design in an effort to integrate all the elements more fully and give greater exposure to exhibitors through improved traffic flow and substantially increased seating and standing capacity so that the area can accommodate a larger audience. It is our belief that the Crystal Palace will be one of the outstanding features of the building, if not the entire Fair. I think the attendance in the area bears out our feelings.
The first mezzanine is substantially completed and now contains a very attractive bar and food vending area which is integrated with the very fine Taylor Provisions exhibit.
On the first floor the Dorothy Draper Dream House has been completed and in operation for some time and with the exception of one or two very minor exhibits, this floor is completed and we feel it is very attractive. The Loewy-Smith organization is presently preparing a proposal for a face-lifting of the lobby and exterior of the building which will give it a great deal of life and a vastly improved general appearance.
I hope this recap of our telephone conversation of last week gives you sufficient understanding of the present condition of the building. I would like to reassure you that we are making a continuous effort to create a building as outstanding as possible, both for the satisfaction of our many

Mr. Rex Reichert

May 26, 1964

Rex Reichert Associates, Inc.

Page 3

fine exhibitors and for the general public so that it is a most inviting place.
If you have any further inquiries, please get in contact with me or Mr. Mathews who is the building manager.
            Yours sincerely,
            RICHARD G. BURGE
            President, Better Living Center


bcc: Martin Stone

Canada Dry Letterhead
                October 9, 1964
Mr. Robert Moses
New York World's Fair Corporation
450 Seventh Avenue
New York, New York
Dear Mr. Moses:
Canada Dry is an exhibitor in the Better Living Center.
Due to the poor and unfinished condition of the Better Living Center on opening day of the Fair, I telephoned your Operations Office to determine whether or not the Better Living Center had been issued an operating permit by the Fair Corporation. I was advised that such a permit had not been issued and that a Certificate of Occupancy was not on file. When I requested written confirmation of this information I was referred to your Legal Department. A Mr. Howard Vogel of the Department, stated that he could not give out any information concerning Operating Permits without a written request from Canada Dry Corporation.
By letter dated April 27th, 1964, Mr. J. W. Reilly, Vice President and Secretary of Canada Dry, wrote to Mr. Vogel to determine if a permit had been applied for, and if so, whether it had been approved or disapproved. We did not receive a reply to this letter.
On July 9th, 1964, we again wrote to Mr. Vogel and requested the same information. Mr. Vogel did not acknowledge receiving this letter nor did he reply.
On August 27th, 1964, a third letter was sent to Mr. Vogel, Registered Mail, and to date we have not received a reply.
As you are no doubt aware, Canada Dry and other exhibitors in the Better Living Center were unable to open their exhibits on time, due to the deplorable condition of the building. Photographs taken well after the opening date clearly show these conditions.

Source (All Document Reproductions this Page): New York World's Fair 1964-1965 Corporation Records,
Source: Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library,
Source: Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Source: Reproduced here courtesy of The New York Public Library, with permission
Source: May not be reproduced without written consent of The New York Public Library
                October 9, 1964
Letter To: Mr. Robert Moses Page 2.  October 9, 1964
Under your World's Fair Regulations, Part 3, Page 0-1, paragraph 1(a), participants are required to obtain an Operating Permit. Paragraph 1(b) lists conditions precedent under which an Operating Permit will issue. Canada Dry Corporation again requests to know the date the Better Living Center was certified by the Fair Corporation as to a "Certificate of Occupancy" and a "Determination that the project is ready for operation," as required under paragraphs 1(b)1 and 6 respectively, of the above regulations covering the issuance of an Operating Permit. We also desire to know the dates of any prior applications and the reasons they were disapproved.
I am certain you will agree that information of this nature should be a matter of public record. Your Legal Department's handling of this simple request, or I should say it's ignoral of this request does not reflect the high standards which I am sure you require and have worked so hard to maintain.
I trust that we will receive a reply from someone in your organization prior to the closing of the Fair on October 18th, 1964.
              Very truly yours,
              E. P. Hartnett, Ass't Director
              of Personnel and Public Relations


Mr. A.W. Walz
Mr. M.W. McCaffery

Canada Dry Exhibit in less Deplorable Conditions!

SOURCE: Photo presented courtesy Bill Cotter collection © 2010 Bill Cotter, All Rights Reserved. See more images from Bill's fabulous collection of World's Fair photographs at his website

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