Collection on the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, 1959-1967

Extent: 18 boxes
Like the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair 25 years earlier, the 1964-1965 Fair was held at Flushing Meadows in the Borough of Queens. The Fair’s theme was “Man’s Achievements in an Expanding Universe,symbolized by the 250 ton, 12-story high steel Unisphere. The collection documents multiple aspects of the Fair from an administrative and visitor perspective, including planning and construction, promotion, exhibits, navigation and post-Fair park development. The collection includes guides, pamphlets, maps, photographs, souvenirs, publications, commemorative objects, art sketches, correspondence, reports, bulletins, proposals, press packets, tickets, and postcards.

Scope and Content

The collection spans from 1959 to 1967, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1961 to 1964. The collection is particularly strong on the Fair’s early development, supporting research on the planning and promotion of the grounds, exhibits, events, buildings, and pavilions. Also of note are several collections of color slides by amateur photographers that capture the look and feel of the Fair.

Overall, the collection provides a unique perspective on three distinct phases of the Fair: planning, operation and demolition. Materials from 1959-1964 document the planning phase, including maps, development plans, reports, bulletins, correspondence, art sketches, proposals, clippings, publications, and a large collection of publicity photographs depicting design renderings of Fair structures. The Donald Oenslager papers, grouped in the Administrative series, specifically detail Oenslager’s involvement in the Fair’s fountain and lighting program between 1961 and 1963. The Fair itself, visited by over 50 million people during the 1964 and 1965 seasons, is captured by press kits, guides, pamphlets, maps, tickets, postcards, publications, clippings, photographs, color slides, souvenirs, and commemorative objects. Finally, the demolition of the Fair and plans to restore the area as a municipal park are documented via photographs, clippings, reports, and publications from 1964-1967.

Arrangement  

The collection is arranged in 10 series:

Series I: Administrative, 1959-1964, (bulk 1961
Series II: Promotional, 1960-1967
Series III: Visiting the Fair, 1964-1965
Series IV: Areas and Exhibits, 1963-1964
Series V: Press and Publications, 1962-1964, undated (bulk 1964)
Series VI: Photographs, 1960-1965
Series VII: Commemorative Objects, 1964
Series VIII: Architectural Elements
Series IX: Artwork
Series X: Audiovisual materials

The majority of the materials have been interfiled and arranged by subject. Some series are further arranged in sub-series (see series descriptions for more detail).  Photographs are grouped in sub-series by creator, with original order preserved when possible.

Click here to view the full finding aid for the Collection on the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair.

Click here to view the Container List, Appendix A: Donor List, and Appendix B: Press and Publications.

You may also email research@mcny.org to receive any of the above documents as an excel spreadsheet if you prefer.

Click here to view images of the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair on the Museum’s online Collections Portal.

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