WORLD'S FAIR -- What does it take
to build the number one exhibition at the New York World's Fair?
Well, for one thing, it takes shower
curtain rings -- 6,000 of them. And you put in 3,000,000 staples,
33,000 artificial plants and two tons of simulated snow flakes.
You use up 5,800 gallons of glue and drive five-and-one-half-tons
More importantly, it requires a wealth
of stylists, engineers, researchers and other experts to conceive
and design a panoramic adventure into what the world of tomorrow
may well be like. The passenger conveyance system, which has
flawlessly carried more than 70,000 persons a day on a 15-minute
ride through the jungle, the desert and city, past the surface
of the moon and the antarctic and under the ocean, is in itself
a design and engineering achievement.
On an 8 1/2 acre site within the
Transportation Section of the fair General Motors has constructed
a 230,000-sq.ft. exhibit which promises to outdo its Highways
and Horizons display, the most popular attraction at the 1939-40
New York World's Fair.
Far broader than its predecessor
which encompassed only the United States, GM's new Futurama offers
visitors a trip around the world of the future if man builds
with only the tools and techniques he has already perfected.
Depicted are new modes of living;
transportation innovations; vehicles unlike any seen today; startling
advances in scientific research; communications techniques which
outspeed and outdistance any now in use; revolutionary industrial
and agricultural processes.
To create this wondrous world, members
of the GM Styling Staff, who designed the entire ride and other
exhibits in the building, asked themselves three years ago -
"What are man's needs? In what areas will he most probably
strive to advance his technology, satisfy his scientific curiosity,
improve his lot in life?"
With these areas determined, the
Styling Staff designers developed a forecast of the courses man
might follow. They then went to the experts for verification.
To present their findings, the GM
stylists decided to create environmental scenes in which the
innovations they foresaw could be shown advancing the fortune
of all mankind. Viewers would take the "ride into tomorrow"
in moving lounge chairs.
The scenes were constructed in a
studio near Detroit. When complete, they were sawed into sections,
trucked to the Flushing Meadow site of the fair, reassembled
and installed along the third-of-a-mile Futurama ride track.
"This was a very stimulating
project for all our people," said William L. Mitchell, GM
vice president in charge of Styling Staff. "Many of them
were rotated to the Futurama project from their normal tasks
both to make specialized contributions and to let them do some
real 'blue sky' designing. They found it easy -- and exciting
-- on a project of this size to imagine that they were already
living in this magnificent world of tomorrow that they visualized.
That was possible because everything we show is founded on scientific
A host of skills was called into
play during the creation of the scenes. GM experts in advanced
vehicular design, in lights and colors and textures, in modeling
and building and painting, in theatrics and illusion and sound
and in myriad other fields were called upon.
The ride itself, which calls for
the loading and unloading of a person every second, was a particular
problem. GM engineers solved it by inventing a new type of drive
GM, which has staged automotive,
scientific and other types of shows across the country for some
117 million visitors, had a wealth of talented and experienced
individuals on hand. They were responsible not only for the ride
but for the design of the building and two other attractions
which it will house -- a display of the contributions science
is making to the progress of mankind and an exhibition of GM
automotive and other products.
The H. B. Stubbs Co. was called upon
to do the actual construction of the scenery. At its studio in
suburban Detroit, Stubbs craftsmen -- working from the Styling
Staff's design -- built the scenes, numbered every section and
then cut them into pieces which could be transported in a special
fleet of 50 trailer trucks.
The sets were built upon wooden frames
which were then covered with wire screening. "Mud,"
composed of powdered asbestos, water soluble glue, wheat paste
and coloring -- with sodium benzoate added as a preservative
much as it is used with prepared foods -- was sprayed on in several
layers. The surface was then painted to represent varying types
At the Futurama building other employees
put the pieces back together, installing almost a mile of animated
track upon which miniature vehicles, human figures and other
objects travel and mounting some 900 stage lights. An additional
1,500 lights ranging from a Christmas tree bulb to a 500-watt
quartz lamp were also used.
In constructing the scenes, which
run for more than a quarter of a mile through two levels of the
Futurama building, the Stubbs craftsmen used more than 10 acres
of plywood, 225,000 feet of lumber, 120,000 carriage bolts, 135,000
wing nuts, 12,100 feet of aircraft cable, 135,000 sq. ft. of
screen wire, 46,000 feet of paper rope, more than 5,000 gallons
of fire-retardant paint and nearly 13 miles of electrical wiring.
The GM Styling Staff made in miniature
some 1,900 vehicles, close to 1,300 model trees and more than
9,000 human figures.
The shower curtain rings? They'll
be used to support some 30,000 sq. ft. of scenic backdrops painted
by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer scenic artists in Hollywood.
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