Professional wreckers are laboring through
the winter months at the World's Fair methodically reducing the
billion-dollar showplace to a relatively quiet mid-Queens park
Where 51.6 million people from all parts of
the world visited the two-year exhibition's pavilions, restaurants
and amusement facilities, the teams of wreckers have taken over.
The principal tools for the enormous demolition project are the
cutting torch, the bulldozer and the wrecker's ball.
The program calls for the removal of more
than 100 structures from the Flushing Meadow fairground and the
restoration of the 646-acre site so a park complex can be created.
Only Park for Now
Because fair revenues fell far short of those
anticipated, the site will be the only park to be developed for
the present out of an elaborate corridor system of parks that
had been envisaged by fair officials as honey-combing the center
of the borough.
Original leases called for the exhibitors
to have their structures cleared and the sites restored within
90 days of the fair's closing date, last Oct. 17.
The deadline has been extended to Dec. 31
of this year, and the wreckers are still ripping away at major
pavilions scheduled for removal. Many sites are leveled and a
fair spokesman said that most of the buildings would be down
by July 1.
Some of the huge pavilions, such as the General
Motors and Ford buildings are being torn and cut apart for lumber
and steel salvage. Other smaller structures have been carefully
dismantled to be reassembled elsewhere.
Shipped to Indonesia
In the latter category, Indonesia's pavilion
was shipped home while Thailand's 18th century Buddhist shrine
is to be reassembled at Montreal for that city's "Expo '67."
Other pavilions have been sold or given away for various uses
-- Denmark's is now a restaurant in Westport, Conn.
However, several prominent buildings and other
structures visible from the Long Island Expressway and the network
of roads in the area, are proving to be headaches for fair officials.
Some receivers took over bankrupt exhibitors, and exhibiting
companies simply haven't disposed of others.
A vexing problem has been posed by one of
the most prominent -- the steep roofed buildings forming the
Belgian Village. The picturesque exhibit had suffered from financial
difficulties even in its construction stages and was finally
opened the day before the fair ended its first season.
Another landmark to be erased is A.M.F.'s
monorail. A contract has been let to demolish its concrete supports,
but the future of the rail system and cars is still up in the
The list of structures that are to become
permanent fixtures include the $4-million Unisphere, the Greyhound
Pavilion (for the city's Fire Department), the $5.8-million marina,
the $8-million Hall of Science and the $1-million Space Park
The fate of the heliport, a $7-million structure,
is still undecided. Negotiations and discussions are continuing
for the massive Federal Building and the building complex of
the New York State Pavilion, each of which cost about $12-million.
Buildings to remain include the press building
(to the Police Department), the administration building (Parks
Department), the Singer Bowl, the entrance building, the post
office and maintenance buildings.
The Wrecking Corporation of America, one of
the major demolition contractors working on the site, is tearing
down the Ford Pavilion. The job is second in size only to the
General Motors Pavilion, which was the biggest wrecking project
on the grounds.
Joseph Hall, a coordinator for the wrecking
concern's many projects at the fairgrounds, said, "the main
delay was in removing exhibits, machinery and fixtures before
wrecking work could be started on the actual structures."
"While it appeared from the outside that
nothing was being accomplished, fairly decent weather has enabled
us to maintain all schedules," he said.
The Wrecking Corporation of America's projects
include pavilions and exhibits of R.C.A., National Cash Register,
Johnson's Wax (the steel is to be shipped to Racine, Wis., to
be re-erected for a company theater building), Church of the
Latter-day Saints, Republic of China and U. S. Rubber.
Much of the exhibits' equipment, especially
from the restaurants and amusement centers, was eagerly bought
by amusement park and restaurant operators from all parts of
Charles R. Wood, a park operator and restauranteur
of Lake George, N. Y., bought the U. S. Rubber ferris wheel and
Greyhound's trams, as well as lighting and ground equipment.
Many of the fair's Walt Disney creations have
been moved to Disneyland in California. They include the Lincoln
exhibit at the Illinois Pavilion, General Electric's Wonderful
World of Tomorrow and the Pepsi Cola "Small World"