MODEL RAILROAD IS FAIR'S BIG HIT
- The main starting-point of the innumerable trains of the World's
Largest Model Railroad spectrackular is seen above. Passengers
and porters go about their business on the platforms, while trains
arrive and depart. Shunting engines on side tracks marshal new
trains into position. From here leave the main trunk lines which
run around the entire 3000-square-foot area of the Spectrackular.
This is the corner of the layout directly in front of the control
BERTRAM OTTO, builder
of the Spectrackular, explains his display to a group of children
during a "preview" visit. In the center may be seen
the passenger rocket of the future, circling in its cradle, to
find its proper orbital angle for blastoff. Passenger and freight
trains run around the perimeter of the layout. This corner is
diagonally across from the control panel.
HOW TO GET TO THE SPECTRACKULAR
The World's Largest Model Railroad Spectrackular
is located on the ground floor of the Better Living Center at
the Rodman Street entrance of the New York World's Fair. This
is designated as gate 7 on maps of the Fair area and is Stop
#7 of the Greyhound Rapid Transit line which carries passengers
through the Fair.
The Spectrackular can be seen at the end of
your visit to the Better Living Center as all ramps lead down
to it. It can also be seen first by swinging around to your left
from the front entrance of the Better Living Center, to the side
entrance facing Rodman Street.
"CITY OF THE FUTURE" SHOWS SHAPE
OF THINGS TO COME
Scientists and those interested in space developments
and other problems of modern science will find The World's Greatest
Spectrackular's "City of the Future" of special excitement
Mr. Bertram Otto has incorporated into it
many new ideas of his own. These include revolving silver spheres,
with antennae projecting from them, which are intended to absorb
radiation, fallout, germs and dust, and thus make the City of
the Future almost aseptically clean.
There are also various levels of transportation,
for freight, for passenger cars, for pedestrians, and for public
transportation, making life as simple as possible for the people
of the future.
In addition, each section of the City of the
Future has its own color, so as to facilitate postal delivery
- better, Mr. Otto feels, than any system of zone number or zip-codes.
The colors of the various sections also serve as guides for the
landing of helicopters, which will in his future conception normally
come in to land on the roofs of large office and apartment buildings.
In five years that the City of the Future
has been part of the Spectrackular, Mr. Otto has had to change
and update it several times - for many of the ideas he introduced
as dreams of the future have now become reality. It is safe to
assume that what he is showing us now is at least as good likeness
of the "shape of things to come."
SPECTRACKULAR PRESENTS WHOLE WORLD IN MINIATURE
The result of some eight years' work, and a cumulative investment
of almost $200,000, the Spectrackular is the scale-model hobbyist's
dream come true. As presented on the ground floor of the Better
Living Center at the World's Fair, it is the largest model railroad
display ever assembled anywhere.
It has over 8,000 little people in its miniature
world, engaged in every business, pastime and activity conceivable.
It's many trains, the mainstay of the exhibit,
number over 1,000 pieces of rolling stock. These include more
than 400 locomotives, from a wide variety of countries: England,
America, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Denmark, Switzerland,
Japan, and even Russia.
The area of the Spectrackular is approximately
3,000 square feet, and there are more than two and three-quarter
miles of track laid on the baseboards and the superstructures
such as mountains, viaducts, bridges, trestles, and so on.
The scaled-to-life settings include 24 churches,
148 country cottages and farm buildings, 400 shops and stores
of all descriptions, 200 schools, fire stations and other public
buildings, 150 factories and administrative buildings, 100 skyscrapers,
supermarkets and multiple-business structures, and over 500 railroad
stations and siding sheds.
Throwing geography to the winds, Mr. Bertram
Otto, president of the Thames Ditton Model Railway Society, Surrey,
England, who built the Spectrackular, has included within its
boundaries such diverse locations as London Terminal, New York,
and a "preview" idea of its World's Fair, Rome, Paris,
Switzerland with its Alps, Germany, a City of the Future, and
even rockets taking off for Mars.
All HO Scale
The entire Spectrackular is scaled to HO size,
the most widely-used of railroad modelers' scales (3.5 mm. to
the foot, or 1/87th of actual size approximately). Needless to
say, "modeler's license" has been exercised in a few
cases. On the scale, if London and New York were actually separated
by the scaled distances, the Spectrackular would be some 35 miles
The careful observer will note that every
unit of activity and every group of people in the layout has
its own justification and story. While the modeler leaves it
to the viewer to interpret these in his own fashion, the narration
presented from time to time at the display explains many of the
individual aspects of the different sections.
It will be seen that, as the viewer goes around
the Spectrackular, passing from section to section, the trains
in each area are those of the country represented, the signs
on the stations and buildings, the costumes of the people, the
local cars and street transportation, and so on, are all in character
for the given country.
DO IT YOURSELF!
Visitors to the Spectrackular will get six
chances to participate in actually running the world's largest
scale model railroad display.
At various points around the layout, there
are buttons inside the barrier which spectators may press. As
marked, these buttons will operate the Monorail, make the Churchbell
ring, run the little yellow Trolley, activate the Cablecar, send
Stephenson's Rocket whizzing on its way -- and the last one,
marked Mystery Button, will bring about a surprised on the layout,
which it is left up to the viewer to locate.
HOBBY MAKES NEW CAREER FOR OTTO
|Bertram Otto is one man who can be said to have
turned his boyhood hobby into a life's occupation - and a highly-successful
one. All his life a model-railroad enthusiast, Otto seven years
ago put together his first public display, for exhibit at the
British resort of Eastbourne. He has built it up and added to
it year by year, until today it is unique, the most fantastic
world-in-miniature ever constructed. It is, of course seen in
the Better Living Center of the World's Fair as The World's Greatest
Spectrackular. When not displaying the Spectrackular, Otto continues
to make his living as a theatrical entertainer, magician and
"GOLDEN SPIKE" ANNIVERSARY
Railroaders and model railroaders throughout
the U.S. observe the date of May 10, as the 95th anniversary
of the driving of the Golden Spike at Promontory, Utah. This
famous event in 1869 signalized the completion of the first transcontinental
rail route in the United States.
Rolling stock of the period can be seen in
the Spectrackular, World's Largest Model Railroad, in the Better
Living Center at the World's Fair.
FAIR "PREVIEW" IS FEATURED
|When Bertram Otto's record-size "world-in
-miniature" and model railroad exhibit was on display last
year at the British resort of Eastbourne, one of its key features
was a fanciful "preview" of the 1964 World's Fair in
New York. Now, his own prediction coming true, Otto is starring
with his display, The World's Greatest Specktrackular, in the
Better Living Center at our Fair. But he hasn't changed his "preview"
version of it. Americans may get a chuckle from the trans-Atlantic
vision of the Fair.
MILLIONS ENJOY SCALE-MODEL HOBBY
It is estimated that there are over 2,000,000
scale-model railroad hobbyists in the United States. A majority
of them are grouped in some 200 hobby clubs.
About 84% of these hobbyists build their models
in HO gauge, the scale of the Spectrackular. The balance are
split just about evenly between the larger O gauge, and the smaller
S and TT gauges.
Most of the clubs are affiliated with the
National Model Railroad Association, which has its headquarters
in Canton, Ohio.
Those interested in forming clubs or joining
the national association may write to Bob Bast, Office Manager,
National Model Railroad Association, P.O. Box 1238-K, Station
C, Canton, 8, Ohio.
The principal magazines of interest to scale-model
hobbyists published in the United States are:
published monthly by the Kalmbach Publishing Co., 1027 No. 7th
St., Milwaukee 7, Wis.; and
Railroad Model Craftsman, published monthly by Model Craftsman Publishing
Corp., P.O. Box 469, Ramsey, N.J.
SPECTRACKULAR GAVE SHIPPERS A SCARE!
|When the U.S. Lines cargo-liner, S.S. American
Courier, transported The World's Greatest Spectrackular from
England to New York, the bill of lading caused quite some shock
to the shipping officials. It read "400 locomotives, 6700
assorted railway cars" and various other such huge consignments
-- an insuperable problem, until they realized that these were
scale-models in HO gauge (3.5 mm.-to-the-foot scale). The shipment
arrived safely and is now being seen in the Belter Living Center
at the World's Fair. The only casualty was a few gray hairs for
the steamship officials.
SPECTRACKULAR! Model Railroad Display
- 1st Floor Better Living Center
Publicity Photo -
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
Island Sunday Press, May 3, 1964
Spectrackular in World All Its Own
Every father who has ever bought a model railroad
for his son so he could play with it himself, and every son who
lets him help play with that railroad, should high-ball it over
to the World's Fair.
For there, in the Better Living Pavilion,
they will find two equally fascinating attractions under one
roof: the Spectrackular, which is the largest model railroad
in the world, and its bouncy, bubbly creator, Bertram Otto.
Otto is a short, heavy-set pixie of a man
with a British accent and a quick eye for even the most minute
of details. He has built, in the past seven years, an exhibit
which defies all imaginations except his own.
* * *
OTTO WAVES a
hand over the 3,000-square-foot exhibit with its nearly three
miles of track, its more than 1,000 pieces of rolling stock and
400 locomotives and he says simply: "It's all a bit easy,
Otto explains the electronic intricacies of
his railroad with the same ease he explains life itself.
"Take life and break it down into little
cubes and it's all not so complicated," he says. "A
field of daffodils overwhelms you. But one daffodil by itself,
is easy to understand."
Otto applied this same theory to the construction
of his model railroad. And bit by bit, scale model by scale model,
he put it together.
His obsession with detail is everywhere in
this vast, moving exhibit which encompasses much of the world.
You can see much more than the trains moving
back and forth in every direction, busily loading and unloading,
switching and turning, stopping and going.
* * *
ONE TRAIN pulls
up to a chute at a uranium mine. It stops. The open car is filled
with ore. The the train moves on to a conveyor belt and empties
the ore onto it. The conveyor belt takes the ore up to a special
machine which crushes it and empties it into another car for
shipment someplace else.
Ships move back and forth in the many lakes
and rivers. A bride and groom walk out of a church after their
wedding. They're "married" thousands of times each
day. A church bell rings off and on. And with the regularity
of Old Faithful, a volcano erupts complete with fire.
But it is not only in the hundreds of moving
parts that Otto has displayed his great love for detail. It is
in the tiny corners and crevices of the display which the average
person would never see.
He points to a tiny nest on top of a building
and says: "See that. It's a nest of storks. Cost me $12.
Spent I don't know how long getting it just right. Lovely, what?"
You walk with Otto around this exhibit and
as you do you pass from one country to another. One minute you're
at Waterloo Station in England, the next you're in a station
in Germany. Then you're high above the Alps, riding in a cable
car similar to those at the fair. Soon, you're at Grand Central
Station in Manhattan.
* * *
BUT IT IS Otto's
City of the Future which makes him beam with pride. He claims
this city, complete with its monorail, is already being studied
by planners for real-life cities of the future.
"In one corner there," he says,
squinting for it's hard to see from where you stand, "in
one corner of my city I have a museum. You can't see it from
here but it's there. I have a museum with all the things obsolete
in that era. There's a modern-day telly and a traffic light and
so many other things which science has replaced."
Otto is a television entertainer and businessman
in England. And it's the ham in him which makes him build such
things as the model railroad.
"It's a way of performing you know,"
he says. "I'm a bit of a big head, I am. I think if nobody
listened to me, I'd just get up somewhere and start shouting
my head off."
His railroad was born about seven years ago
when a theater became empty in a town in
England where he was performing.
"I couldn't afford to have someone else
in that theater because maybe they would be competition for me,"
he says. "So, I'd always wanted to build a model railroad.
I figured this was as good a place as any to start it."
Otto started building and the more he built,
the more fascinated he became. He scoured Europe for things to
add to his display, but much of the HO models were built by hand.
* * *
BY THE TIME
the exhibit had toured England and most of Europe and was shipped
to the fair, it had grown to many times its original size.
In his world, which he says is "like
the world but not exactly like it," there are 24 churches,
148 cottages and farm buildings, 400 shops, 200 schools, 200
city houses, fire stations and dozens of other public buildings.
And thousands of people and even a polar bear who plays tennis.
The entire railroad is mounted on plywood
and and breaks up into sections which fold and fit into packing
crates. It takes about five days for a crew of nine men to assemble
and just about as much time to pack up.
Behind the scenes is Otto's engineer -- his
mother-in-law. Wearing a fireman's uniform and cap, she efficiently
switches the switches and dials the dials to keep the hundreds
of yards running smoothly.
Otto's wife keeps a sharp eye on the yards
for possible breakdowns.
And Otto runs around the exhibit, excited
as a boy with a new toy, pointing here and there and beaming
proudly when someone comes over to tell him how much they enjoyed
* * *