Building the AMF Monorail



From drawing board to fully automated operation in 342 days - that's the story of the AMF Monorail as it circles the lake amusement area at the New York World's Fair 1964-1965.
A design and engineering team managed by American Machine & Foundry Company, and supported by Sverdrup and Parcel, Architects and Engineers of St. Louis, Missouri, Walter Dorwin Teague Associates, Industrial Designers of New York, and the St. Louis Car Company of St. Louis, Missouri began work on design of the AMF Monorail system on 15 May 1963. Working concurrently, this group expedited design and engineering on cars, bogies, station superstructure and track so that fabrication and construction could begin in early August 1963.
The AMF passenger station of contemporary design, with an inverted arch roof, is the outstanding landmark of the amusement area. It is 166 feet long, 52 feet wide, and rises to a height of 80 feet at either end. High speed escalators will expedite movement of passengers to and from the 40 foot high platform area.
A forerunner in a family of Monorail systems for the mass transportation field, the AMF Monorail will afford its passengers a ride as smooth and quiet as a silent rush of air. Seven two-car trains, three on one loop going clockwise and four on the other moving counter-clockwise, will operate continuously over the 4,000 foot closed loop track suspended 40 feet in the air. With a peak capacity of 4,800 per hour, it is estimated that 15 million passengers will ride these seven air conditioned trains, embodying AMF designed fail-safe devices, during the two seasons of the Fair. Although rapid transit monorails will normally operate at high speeds, the World's Fair system has been held to a moderate rate of speed to give riders a panoramic view of the spectacular World's Fair scene and a good vantage point for photography.

Artist's Conception

Foundation Preparation

Raising the Support Beams
Early in April 1963, the vacant Lake Amusement Area in flushing Meadow park, last occupied during the 1939-1940 World's Fair, was surveyed for locations of the AMF Monorail around its perimeter. Ground was broken shortly thereafter, and by mid-July, construction work was well under way. 48,000 lineal feet of pilings and 1,400 cubic yards of concrete were required for column footings and station foundation. The first 50 foot column was lifted into place on December 2, 1963. The last of 68 columns was bolted into position on January 3, 1964. William L. Crow Construction Company of New York was general contractor for the project. Prefabricated steel was furnished by Harris Structural Steel Company.

Installin Track

Monorail Station
On December 3, 1963, the first 50 foot section of prefabricated, double webbed I-Beam was readied for elevation into its pre-determined position in the track. On January 27, 1964 the last section of the 4,000 foot track was hoisted into place to close the loop. The passenger station had begun to take shape in December, 1963 and in February, 1964 was already the most outstanding structure visible from the adjacent intersection of Long Island Expressway and Grand Central Parkway. By early April, 1964 the station was in final stages of completion and available as the platform for checkout of the automatic block signal control system.

Site Map of Location

Amusement Area Aerial
The AMF Monorail, encircling the Lake Amusement Area, lies to the east of the Long Island Expressway, between the Grand Central Parkway and the Van Wyck Expressway, across from the main exhibit area of the Fair. Parking lots can be reached directly from these three thoroughfares. The Meadow Lake Bridge connecting the amusement area and the exhibit area can be seen on the left. The aerial photograph shows the completed track and the partially finished passenger station as they appeared on February 15, 1964. The Texas Pavilion is the square building inside the outer loop of the Monorail track at the upper right. The circular structure just behind the station is the Continental Circus. The Hawaii exhibit, the Amphitheatre and the Florida building can be seen outside the Monorail track from top to bottom on the right.

Bogies and Test Ride

Car Fabrication
Concurrent with the design and engineering of foundation and superstructure, work was begun in early May, 1963 by AMF's General Engineering Division on design, fabrication and test of the 28 rubber tired "bogies" or trucks, which propel the suspended two-car trains along the track. Static and dynamic tests were conducted in AMF laboratories and on a specially constructed test track where actual load and operating conditions were simulated. Robert Moses, President of the World's Fair Corporation and other Fair officials visited the test track area and rode the test car with Carter Burgess, AMF Chairman, on December 5, 1963.
During the same time period, Walter Dorwin Teague Associates and St. Louis Car Company proceeded with design and fabrication of the 14 cars that make up the seven trains. Fabrication of the first car began on November 6, 1963 and was completed on February 7, 1964.

Maintenance Station and Two-Car Train

"Miss Monorail"
On February 10, 1964 the first car arrived on the site and was elevated to its suspended position on the track. The on-site checkout program began immediately and increased in tempo as additional cars arrived at the rate of two per week. The last two car train was activated on April 3, 1964
The colorful costume for "Miss Monorail" and other train hostesses was created by fashion designer Anne Fogarty, using the all-new DuPont "Acrobat" Lycra stretch poplin fabric. The distinctive hostess hat, which is patterned after the upswept architectural lines of the Monorail station, was created by Miss Mary of New York. Claire Lange Associates, Fashion Consultants of New York, collaborated on design of the hostess costume and hat. the uniform for male passenger control attendants was designed by Walter Dorwin Teague Associates of New York.

SAFEGE Monorail
The SAFEGE Transport high-speed monorail system was developed by Lucien F. Chadenson, world famous bridge builder, Chairman and President of SAFEGE Transport. It is a high speed system of advanced design and is operating on a one mile track at Chateauneuf-sur-Loire, 90 miles south of Paris. The car is suspended from rubber-tired power units or bogies, which run on tracks enclosed within a box beam structure. This exclusive patented feature provides protection against snow and ice, assuring safe and uninterrupted operation of the system in all weather. AMF has acquired a license to market the SAFEGE Monorails system in the Untied States.

SAFEAGE Constructon Diagram
The increasing need for modern, rapid mass transportation is one of the most pressing problems facing the nation today. By 1985, more than half of our expanding population can expect to live in some 40 great urban complexes. The problem of mass transportation which is pressing today, will be acute tomorrow. AMF believes its Monorail systems are the key to solving many of the problems facing traffic congested cities in the years ahead. Discussions have been held with a number of cities to show the advantages of high-speed monorails for airport-city center transportation.

Source: Booklet AMF Monorail Tomorrow's TransporationToday presented courtesy Randly Lambertus Collection

Back Page

Source: Men at Work 1964-65 World's Fair by Luciano Guaruiori presented courtesy Randly Lambertus Collection

Monorail Station Construction Sketch

Construction Photos of the AMF Monorail Terminal

Long view AMF Terminal Construction


AMF Terminal Construction

Source: Presented courtesy Randly Lambertus Collection

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