The Space Age for Real!

Artist's Rendering

Artist's rendering of the New York Hall of Science and the U.S. Space Park at the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair

Source: Rod Smith Collection, unknown source


"Like most Americans in 1964, we were fascinated with space. We had grown up with Sputnik and watched, in breathless amazement on a classroom TV as Alan Shepard took his fifteen-minute Mercury flight in 1961. Our vocabularies were filled with words like Telstar and splashdown, and NASA was becoming as familiar as The Ed Sullivan Show. We drank Tang, wondered how astronauts went to the bathroom, and tried to imagine life at zero gravity. The world's fair was a spectacular showcase of this new era, a cornucopia of command modules and booster rockets, space stations and moon domes - and it gave us our first ever opportunity to see it all up close."

Katherine Khalife
"Memories of the 1964 World's Fair"

Webmaster's note...

For all those reading this who were grade-schoolers in 1964 and 1965, the words of Katherine Khalife's wonderful essay ring oh-so-true and evoke vivid memories of how we followed every launch with excitement and amazement. For this truly was the Space Age and we were living it. How lucky we are to have experienced that remarkable history of every mission that ended with a successful spashdown and Aircraft Carrier recovery.

I usually save my Thank-yous to those who have contributed Feature materials for the end of the Feature. But this time I'd like to extend a warm Thank You to Bradd Schiffman up front for his wonderful look back at what I feel is one of the most important yet overlooked exhibits of the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair: The U.S. Space Park. Tucked away in a corner of the Fair, far away from the must-see futuristic exhibits of the industrial giants, next to a building -- The Hall of Science -- that wouldn't even open until September of the Fair's first season, was The Space Age that wasn't merely a dream on a designer's drawing board. It was The Space Age for real.

Here millions of Americans could see for the first time, up-close, how we were going to put a man on the Moon before the decade was over; the goal that President Kennedy had committed us to in 1961. Now, in 1964, the first phase of that program had already come to a close: Project Mercury. America would be embarking on a new program in 1965 with the advent of Project Gemini. It would be the next step of our great experiment in space exploration that would ultimately lead to Project Apollo and footsteps on the Moon. At the U.S. Space Park, the Fairgoer could see and feel every craft that would play a role in our Moonshot program. What a remarkable display and teaching tool NASA, the Defense Department and the Fair provided for America through the Fair.

On the following pages you'll find a number of photos of the U.S. Space Park from Bradd's collection showing the rockets, spacecraft and satellites exhibited there. After an overview of the Park you'll find a reprint of the second chapter of a World's Fair Publication called "Science at the Fair" which talks about the Park and the U.S. space program. In his preface to that book, World's Fair President Robert Moses states "It won't take you long to read this piece. It won't require great effort. It will be most rewarding." I couldn't have said it better. As you read it, keep in mind that these were plans for what was to come. It is a credit to those who made it all happen when we realize how successful those plans turned out to be. I guarantee that you'll feel a tug of nostalgia as terms you haven't used in years come at you off those pages. It is the story of The Space Age come true for us who have grown now to adults.

Enjoy! Thanks for giving this important exhibit its due, Bradd.

Bill Young, June 2002


Artist's concept of the Space Park

Source: Robert J Yowell Collection, courtesy of NASA

Artist's concept


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