Remembering the Final Days

Throngs pour onto Fairgrounds

Making a Big Entrance. Throngs pour into World's Fair from IRT subway station as visitors continue to come in record numbers to get a glimpse of the exposition, which has one week to go. Yesterday's attendance at the Fair established the biggest two-day figure in its history, and created one of the biggest traffic jams.

Crowds Set Fair Record and Traffic Jamboree

Despite gray skies and intermittent rain, crowds again jammed the World's Fair yesterday, promising to rival or perhaps even surpass Saturday's unprecedented gate of 379,852.

Attendance was 348,189 by 4 P.M., which in itself was well over the previous record of 317,310 set on Sept. 5 and made it by far the biggest two-day count since the glittering exposition opened in April, 1964.

With exactly one week left before the curtain rings down for the last time, everybody and his brother seemed to be trying belatedly to make up for lost time.

The Italians, Poles and Chinese celebrated their special days there yesterday, but this could hardly account for such a turnout.

After hearing of the mammoth traffic jams on Grand Central Parkway and the Long Island and Van Wyck Expressways on Saturday, many

visitors left their cars home and came by public transportation.

In the early afternoon, hordes pressed shoulder to shoulder on the 1,000-foot ramp from the Willets Point IRT stop to gate No. 1.

Thousands of cars, however, were again parked illegally on the shoulders of the parkways surrounding the Fair. Many riders started across the parkways and entered the exposition by cutting holes in fences.

Italian Day was celebrated at the new York State Pavilion with the appearance of Ruffino Opera Theater of New York. The professional opera company which appears in repertory at Judson Hall sang Italian arias to commemorate the day.

Polish day was celebrated at the Federal Pavilion from 2 to 4 P.M. with traditionally garbed youngsters singing and dancing to the folk music of Poland.

Cars parked on off ramps

Yesterday's huge throng at the World's Fair moves through the grounds. Thousands of drivers, who found lots filled, left their cars parked illegally on nearby roadways and grass plots.

Source: New York Daily News, Monday, October 11, 1965
Photos: NEWS photo by Gene Kappock (top)
Photos: Airview from NEWS plane by Charles Payne; Sig Uydert, pilot (bottom)

End of the Fair - Result Appraised


 Attendance comparison chart

FINAL HOURS: The last of more than 50 million people will pass through the turnstiles today as the New York World's Fair comes to an end.

Today it all ends. The last visitor will come through the gates. The lights will be extinguished. The fountains will be turned off. The world's fair will become a memory.

Some will say "good riddance." Others will cry softly in their beer in an aura of sweet, sad nostalgia.

The New York show may be the last of the really big fairs. It was spread over 643 acres. Just short of $1 billion was invested in it, if one includes the cost of the highway network that surrounds Flushing Meadow and that will remain as a legacy of the fair.

The fair's strong point was the substantial participation of American industry. United States companies put just short of $500 million into Flushing Meadow.

Thus the fair had the backbone of a solid exposition. In keeping with modern concepts of display, there was little that was static in the pavilions. People were given rides backwards and forwards in time, stages revolved, motion pictures were projected on multiple screens, people bobbed along in little boats through a child's fairy land.

Spain's Harvest

Because the fair was not officially recognized by a body that governs participation at international expositions, foreign representation was not notable. Exceptional in this respect was Spain. Where most other countries were represented by private business groups, Spain's Government was an official participant.

As a result, outstanding Spanish art was brought to the United States, along with troops of Spain's best dancers. The architectural design of the Spanish Pavilion was widely praised and as a result, Spain feels it will realize a great tourist harvest.

The amusement area of the fair was a notable failure. Robert Moses said that this was because the paid attractions there could not compete with the free attractions in the industrial areas. Others said that Mr. Moses's regulations that permitted none of the traditional midway girly hanky-panky caused the failure.

Mr. Moses predicted a two-year attendance at the fair of 70 millions. He will get just above 50 million.

With its center at the Flushing Meadow site, Mr. Moses had planned to use $23 million of a projected surplus of just under $50 to construct a chain of parks in Queens.

At this stage the fair corporation, which operates with all the secrecy of an army in battle with an enemy, will not give figures on is precise financial condition.

What is firm knowledge is that its audited books showed a loss of $17,540,100 for the first season. The fair tightened its belt, pared its budget and raised its admission price from $2 to $2.50 in its second [season].

But the attendance this season will be 3 million less than last season and roughly 60 per cent of all admissions will be by ticket purchased in advance of the first season (from which the fair derives no fresh revenue), so even with the boom attendance during the final days, the fair corporation is not reaping any financial harvest.

Twenty-five per cent of the fair's $29,829,000 in notes were paid off at midseason 1964. How much more if any more, will be paid back, Mr. Moses is not prepared to say.

But Mr. Moses is a determined man. He is determined that Queens shall have its parks. To this end he is planning to take funds from the rich Triboro Bridge and Tunnel Authority (of which he is president).

The park will not be the extensive one that Mr. Moses had originally envisaged. The city will have to provide most of the funds for that eventual park

In sum, as far as city finances are concerned, the fair will have cost the city $23 million in permanent improvements -- sewers, cables, and the like -- that were installed under Flushing Meadow and, perhaps an additional $17 million to build the park that Mr. Moses had promised.

In terms of tourist business to the city and the good will of holding an international exposition and the resulting park, $40 million does not represent a large investment.

In fact if it were not for Mr. Moses's cantankerous nature, New York and New Yorkers might be well satisfied with the fair and the modest park that it will leave in its wake.

But Mr. Moses loves a verbal battle.

In 40 years of public life he has quarreled with every governor of the state (save Alfred E. Smith whom he much admired), written tough and sarcastic letters to every newspaper publisher in town, crossed swords with a wide variety of public officials and public figures, including, of late, Mayor Wagner, Traffic Commissioner Henry Barnes and City Controller Abraham I. Beam.

"The prophets and early croaker of doom as usual were wrong," is the one way that Mr. Moses sums up the achievements of his fair. It will remain for history to decide whether Mr. Moses was right or whether his critics were right. Or whether there was a measure of truth on both sides.

Source: New York Times(?), Sunday, October 17, 1965

Unisphere on closing night

Standing out sharply against the night sky, this spectacularly illuminated Unisphere set in the Fountain of the Continents provides our Scrapbook with its parting shot on this, the closing day of the New York World's Fair of 1964-1965. The giant U.S. Steel-built globe will stay on as a permanent feature of a park to be developed on the Fair site. Long may this symbolic World recall to millions of fairgoers the good old days they enjoyed there!

Source: News Colorfoto by Daniel Jacino
Source: New York Sunday News - November 7, 1965

There's of course a touch of sadness about any closing, and I shall miss the Fair, but it has been a summer university attended by 50 million, more than ever visited any similar enterprise, and they have testified eloquently to its worth.

Universities refer to the end of the course as Commencement. We now commence here a new park. I have seen Flushing Meadow rise from ash dump to glory and after this second Fair we shall inaugurate what I am sure will eventually be the City's finest park.

As we approach the hour of closing, expressions of regret are heard from those who apparently have just heard about the Fair for the first time and want it kept open. Others who have been steady visitors say they can hardly believe that so much beauty and revelation must disappear. Unfortunately we can't change this. Flushing Meadow Park, the framework and much of the content of the Fair will have to serve.

New York has profited in more ways than one and is better and more favorably known as a host to strangers.

To those who loyally helped to create this Olympics of Progress in the face of many obstacles I give my thanks and gratitude.

We have fostered enduring friendships and memories which will persist and draw the peoples of a troubled world closer together. This was mainly our objective and time will prove that we achieved it.

Statement by Robert Moses on the Closing of the Fair

October 17, 1965

Source: "For Those Who Produced the Fair" - Book

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