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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The 1964 New York World's Fair and Rapid Transit

 We are almost at the Fiftieth anniversary of the 1964 New York World's Fair and I would like to share some of my thoughts with you regarding the subject.  I was a young kid at that time and I was able to visit the World's Fair a few times.  I saw the major exhibits such as  GM, Ford, DuPont, General Electric and IBM.  Smaller exhibits such as the Long Island Railroad and Port Authority I passed through.  Even at that time I was interested in rapid transit and not being informed, I thought the last streetcars were running only in San Francisco.  The fair was great and very educational, but in retrospect, the subject that most of the readers of this blog are interested in, namely streetcars, subways and trolleybuses were not shown to exist.  The major car builders showed models of what the future city would look like, mass transit running in the middle of multi lane highways.  These were not shown to make local stops but appear to be inter city commuter trains.

 Here us a video clip that I got from subchat on 9/14/2013 at 9:51 pm to show what the fair was like.

Interesting comment about the view of the future at the World's Fair.

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Please see some scans from the official guide:

Here is the first two pages of the guide.  With our "friend" Robert Moses who built (was President ) of  the fair.  I believe Robert Moses needs no introduction.

Here is General Motors view of the future. Some limited train transport would play a part in the future.  The guide mentions that the exhibit showed high speed "bus trains".  Does this become the Bus Rapid Transit of Today?

 At the base of the Port Authority Exhibit shown above, they had a scale model of the PATH subway system.  From what I remember, it may have been the size of a ping pong table.  That is it for excitement! How would this exhibit compare to the wonderful and exciting Ford and GM exhibits that people where lined up for hours?

The Long Island Rail Road had a very small free exhibit.  At that time, I was not interested in the LIRR.  The exhibit was boring and I left after five minutes.  It featured duck farming on Long Island; a very important rapid transit topic.

In the early 1970's, rapid transit declined rapidly in New York City.  All the buses and subways were marked up, subway mileage decreased with the closing of the 3rd Avenue El, Bowling Green Shuttle, Culver Shuttle, the Myrtle Avenue Line in 1969 and so on.  It is my thesis that the lack of attention in society as shown by the New York Worlds Fair in 1964 towards rapid transit topics was related to the decline of rapid transit and street electric transportation all across America during the early 1970's.  The planners of the World Fair, if still alive today and transportation planners would be surprised if they could  have foreseen the resurgence of streetcars and trolleybuses worldwide ( not in New York City ) fifty years later.

  I almost forgot, but there was a AMF Monorail that circled the Lake Area.  It was 40 feet up and consisted of two car trains.  Somehow I missed to ride it.  I was busy looking at the New York City Transit Authority Flushing yard instead, that had recently painted Lo-V subway cars on display through a chain linked fence.  The monorail charged 80 cents for adults and ran from 9 am to 2 am and this was the view of future modern rapid transit at that time, with trains running in the medians of highways.

According to the guide,"... three trains travel in one direction while four in the other direction, on parallel tracks." p. 218.

A quote from "Elkeeper" in Subchat: One of the Four Horseman of the Subway Apocalypse: Depression, World War II, Post- war hijacking of 2nd Ave subway funds, and- Robert Moses- the Devil, Himself!

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