Miracle in the Meadow I

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Pile Driving
More than 1200 acres of swampland was covered with fill to create Flushing Meadow Park in the mid-1930s. Piles (huge wooden timbers) had to be driven into the soil to support millions of tons of steel and concrete used in the construction of the Fair's pavilions. The ground beneath the Fair could not support many of the structures without the aid of these piles. The soil conditions at Flushing Meadow were so poor in some places that the piles would simply disappear beneath the Meadow while being driven! The area around the Pool of Industry was one such area while, closer to the Theme Center, the ground was more solid. Some 400 piles were driven to support the Federal Pavilion alone, a structure that was intended to be a permanent construction. In the case of the New York State Pavilion, steel piles support the observation towers while wood piles support the Tent of Tomorrow and a concrete slab supports the Theaterama building. Why wood and not something more permanent? Since almost all of the structures were built to be temporary, including the New York State Pavilion, there was no need for the cost of installing permanent steel piles. Wood served the purpose nicely since it was relatively inexpensive and, over time, would simply rot away in the marshy soil.
Oregon timbers for General Electric foundations before being driven.
Piles for the GE Pavilion
Foundation work on the New York State Pavilion shows sunken piles.
Foundation work on NY State
Pile driving for Gas Incorporated foundations.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 6
September 12, 1962
Pile Driving at Gas Companies
Concrete supporting pads cap deep-sunk timbers to make the substructure for the Eastman Kodak exhibit.
Concrete Pads of Kodak

Pile Driving the Bell System Pavilion

Bell Pile Driving
Bell Pile Driving
Bell Pile Driving
Bell Pile Driving
Bell Pile Driving
SOURCE: Bell System Promotional Film "A Ballad for the Fair"
Presented Courtesy Mitch Dakelman and Ray Dashner Collection


Pool of Industry

One of the larger construction jobs at the Fair was the creation of the Pool of Industry. Until the 1964/1965 World's Fair, the Flushing River flowed through the park. The majority of it was diverted through buried conduits beneath the Meadow as a part of the construction of the 1964/1965 Fair. The "burying" of the Flushing River created nine more acres of exhibit space. Four wells, located near Meadow Lake, provided six million gallons of subterranean water augmenting the natural flow and maintaining clean water in the lake and the above-ground section of the Flushing River that still ran through the Fairgrounds.

The basic shape of the pool is created from the oval pond that was the "Lagoon of Nations" for the 1939/1940 World's Fair.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 4
January 17, 1962
Pool of Industry - early construction

Preliminary work is completed and the Pool of Industry takes its final form. The remanents of the Flushing River can still be seen in this aerial view.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 5
May 17, 1962
Pool of Industry - mid construction

Construction of the Fair and the Pool of Industry near completion. The intricate piping, lighting and fountain works of the Fountains of the Planets has been installed in this aerial view from late 1963.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 9
September 26, 1963
Pool of Industry - late construction


Early construction scene of the Industrial Area surrounding the Pool of Industry. Circular foundation takes shape for the Travelers' Insurance Pavilion while work begins on the Bell System Pavilion. Van Wyck Expressway construction can be seen in the background.
 
SOURCE: FAIR NEWS
December 20, 1962
Industrial Area construction


General Motors
Aerial view of General Motors foundation work; pile driver is at center.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 6
September 12, 1962
General Motors site preparaton
First steel goes into place in the construction of GM's rotunda structure which would house the "Avenue of Progress" and the "Product Plaza" exhibits.
 
SOURCE: FAIR NEWS
December 20, 1962
First steel for GM's rotunda
Steel framework in place. The GM Pavilion was the largest construction job at the Fair.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 8
April 22, 1963
GM Steel framework in place
The giant tail fin "canopy" of GM's pavilion is under construction while the rotunda is nearly completed. Note the "construction shack" to the left of the rotunda. It is so large it could be mistaken for a pavilion.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 9
September 26, 1963
GM nearing completion
Webmaster's note... Click HERE to read about the design & construction of the Futurama ride!


Central section of World's Fair showing construction of utilities and roads at the site of Unisphere and along the Main Mall to the Pool of Industry.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 4
January 17, 1962
Main Mall from Unisphere to Pool of Industry


Bell System
The first section of steel is erected for the "floating wing" of the Bell System Pavilion.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 8
April 22, 1963

First section of Bell System
The steel skeleton of the wing waits to be covered with fiberglass panels. The steel "floating wing" was 400 feet long. Construction of the telecommunications tower is well underway.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 9
September 26, 1963

Bell Pavilion nears completion
Welder at work on the Bell Pavilion.
 
SOURCE: Bell System Promotional Film "A Ballad for the Fair"
Presented Courtesy Mitch Dakelman and Ray Dashner Collection (unless otherwise noted)

Bell Construction
Framed view of the Bell Floating Wing under construction.

Bell Construction
Workers prepare to pour the concrete surface of the lower level of the Bell System pavilion.

Bell Construction
Webmaster's note... Click HERE to read more about the design & construction of the Bell System Pavilion!


Eastman Kodak
Wooden flooring makes up the "moondeck" of the Kodak Pavilion.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 8
April 22, 1963
Kodak decking
Steel framework of the pavilion which has not been covered with the wooden "skin." Kodak's Picture Tower rises in the background.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 8
April 22, 1963
Construction of the Picture Tower

A close examination of the construction photographs of the Kodak Pavilion reveals that wood planking covered the steel framework of the pavilion. This provided the underlayment for the poured concrete decking. It is amazing to see how much wood was used in the construction of a pavilion that appears to be made of free-flowing concrete!

Nearing completion - winter 1963-1964.
 
SOURCE: online auction
Nearing Completion

The Kodak Pavilion is nearly complete in this aerial view. Concrete covers the wooden flooring of the pavilion.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 9
September 26, 1963
Kodak nearing completion


General Electric
Construction of the lower exhibit area and mid-section that would house the "Carousel of Progress" ride.
 
SOURCE: FAIR NEWS
December 20, 1962
GE lower exhibit area
Steel skeleton has the familiar shape of GE's domed pavilion.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 8
April 22, 1963
Steel framework of GE's dome

Simple elegance of the GE Pavilion is seen in this aerial view of a nearly completed structure.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 9
September 26, 1963
GE nears completion
Webmaster's note... Click HERE to read about the design & construction of the General Electric Pavilion!


Construction Progress on the Industrial Area of the Fair. The Van Wyck Expressway extension construction winds past the Fair site.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 9
September 26, 1963
Industrial Area construction


Travelers Insurance
Lower exhibit area will support the "umbrella" dome containing "The Triumph of Man" exhibit.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 8
April 22, 1963
Travelers' base
Steel framework is covered over to take the shape of Travelers' "Red Umbrella of Protection."
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 9
September 26, 1963
Travelers gets the "umbrella" dome
Webmaster's note... Click HERE to read about the design & construction of the Travelers Pavilion!


Coca-Cola - Hall of Free Enterprise - Chrysler
Coca-Cola pavilion under construction. Carillon tower is at center.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 9
September 26, 1963
Coca-Cola construction
"Pillars of Economic Wisdom" under construction at the Hall of Free Enterprise
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 9
September 26, 1963
Building the Hall of Free Enterprise

Chrysler's "Show-go-Round" theater gets a roof!
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 9
September 26, 1963
Chrysler "Show-go-Round" Theater


IBM
IBM's ovoid theater, the "Information Machine," rises over the slanted supports that will also bear the "People Wall."
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 9
September 26, 1963
IBM's ovoid theater
A garden of steel "trees" rises around the IBM site.
 
SOURCE: Courtesy Fred Stern Collection
IBM Pavilion


The Fair's main entrance under construction. Shea Stadium rises in the background.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 9
September 26, 1963
Fair's main entrance


Greyhound - Thailand - RCA - NCR
Construction of the Greyhound Pavilion.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 9
September 26, 1963
Greyhound construction
Intricate Temple structure of Thailand's pavilion.
 
SOURCE: FAIR NEWS
January 22, 1964
Scaffold surrounds Thailand's Temple
The circular drums atop this construction make the RCA Pavilion unmistakable.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 9
September 26, 1963
RCA Pavilion construction
Steel support columns which will support the "space frame" roof and floors of the National Cash Register Pavilion.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 9
September 26, 1963
Steel supports for NCR's pavilion
Webmaster's note... Click HERE to read about the design of the NCR Pavilion!


The small square platforms of the New Jersey Pavilion are nearly complete in this aerial view. The only fatalities to occur during the construction of the Fair took place when a number of the steel support booms that suspended the "pyramid tops" of the New Jersey pavilion collapsed killing three workmen.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 9
September 26, 1963
New Jersey and Unisphere construction


Builders of the Fair
DESIGNERS
.....The Corporation has supplied a framework for the Fair ... the exhibit designers are supplying, above all else, variety -- from a Thai temple to a floating steel and concrete slab. Structures are being conceived as architecture, as stage sets and as corporate symbols.
.....The architect today has readily available material only hinted at in the Fair of 1939-1940. He has new methods of construction at his command. He has clients from all over the world, each intent upon telling his story in a dramatic way, not buried in an overall pattern of architectural monotony.
.....The architects and designers study the problems and prepare plans, renderings and models for presentation of clients. They ask and need the help of daring engineering, down-to-earth mechanical detailing and the planning of landscape architects. Their ideas eventually become working drawings, a sheet of glass shown as two thin lines on a blueprint.
.....Always in mind is the estimated cost of construction, in order to make as much structure as possible relatively maintenance free for two years. They must meet the Fair codes for safety and health. They must also always remember that the deathless works of art will go into a scrap heap after 1965. With luck they may go into the photographic records of the architectural historians of the future.
.....With drawings completed and contracts let, the designer's final task is day-by-day inspection of construction.
 
CONTRACTORS
.....Many of the organizations that have been directing New York's multibillion dollar building boom of recent years are at work at the Fair.
.....The contractor's job is complicated. He analyzes the plans, prepares the bills-of-materials and coordinates deliveries. He stakes out the site, prepares foundations and sees to the proper erection of the superstructure, which may have a complicated free-form roof or a simple canvas cover.
.....The contractor supplies the major equipment required by the building trades. More powerful bulldozers, cranes and machinery along with specialized tools have increased efficiency of construction.
.....From the architect's plans the contractor prepares a schedule for the building trades required at each stage of construction. The estimates are discussed with the local labor representatives at the Fair site and plans are made to assure completion on time.
 
SOURCE: NY World's Fair Progress Report No. 9 September 26, 1963

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