Pamphlet commemorating "first
steel" ceremonies for Unisphere
At ceremonies on March 6, 1963 commemorating
the placement of the first steel support of the Unisphere pedestal,
Robert Moses, Fair Corporation President spoke these remarks:
"We looked high and low
for a challenging symbol for the New York World's Fair of 1964
and 1965. It had to be of the space age; it had to reflect the
interdependence of man on the planet Earth, and it had to emphasize
man's achievements and aspirations. it had to be the cynosure
of all visitors, dominating Flushing Meadow, and built to remain
as a permanent feature of the park, reminding succeeding generations
of a pageant of surpassing interest and significance.
And so we discarded startling
abstractions and decided on a transparent, or shall I say diaphanous
globe with orbits, with the continents outlined, and ingenious
lighting and other effects in place of revolving machinery.
This symbol floating over
the Meadow, is going around the world. it signifies the New York
Fair everywhere. Its effect is instantaneous. It speaks volumes
in a single picture."
The first steel section
for Unisphere's pedestal weighing twenty tons, is lowered into
place on March 6, 1963. Fabrication of sections for the world's
largest representation of the Earth took place in Harrisburg,
PA, at U.S. Steel's American Bridge Division, and from there was
shipped by rail and truck to Flushing Meadow Park.
One of Moses' first tasks upon becoming
President of the Fair in 1960 was to suggest some sort of symbol
to represent the Fair. Having been intimately involved with the
1939/1940 Fair Moses knew the value of a highly recognizable
symbol. The Trillion and Perisphere of the earlier Fair had become
popular icons in their day.
In August, 1960, he outlined these ideas:
"It gets down to these
- Pure abstraction. Absolutely
nothing doing. Toss it out.
- Understandable abstraction
symbolizing theme, with some significance or meaning for the
- U.N. buildings. Kind of corny.
Unoriginal. U.N. probably won't like it. Neither will some of
our people, but it's not impossible.
- Something from electronic
or invention world.
- Throgs Neck or Narrows suspension
- Onward and upward symbol
-- Heaven knows what.
- Something else."
He turned to the design firm of Walter
Dorwin Teague to come up with some ideas. Their suggestion was
for a 170-foot high steel and aluminum spiral called "Journey
to the Stars." At one point in its design, a ride took people
to the top of the spiral. Helium filled star-shaped balloons
floated about the top of the structure. Moses' thoughts?
"At the risk of being
put down as a barbarian, I think its a cross between a part of
a make and break engine or a bedspring..."
"Journey to the
Stars" as envisioned by the design team at Walter Dorwin
-- another proposed Theme Symbol of the 1964/1965 New York World's
the Future," "Something for Everyone: Robert
Moses and the Fair" by Marc H. Miller, published to accompany
the 1989 Queens Museum exhibition "Remembering the Future:
The New York World's Fair from 1939 to 1964."
Another rejected proposal called for a
"star viewing platform" to be presented by Portland
Cement called "The Galaxon." This 160-foot high, 340-foot
diameter saucer shaped structure would have had a difficult time
being useful as the lights from the Fair, the world's largest
city and the World's Largest Searchlight just down the
lane might have made star viewing a bit difficult.
In the end it was an old associate from
Robert Moses' 1939/1940 World's Fair days, Gilmore Clark, that
originated the idea of Unisphere. It was certainly "understandable
by the average man" and truly represented man's new role
in the Space Age. It was a readily recognizable icon for its
"We were deluged with
theme symbols -- mostly abstract, aspirational, spiral, uplifting,
flashing, or burning with a hard and gemlike flame, whose resemblance
to anything living or dead was purely coincidental. I can comprehend
the magnificent symbolism of a four-footed musical theme like
that of Beethoven's Fifth ... but the symbolism proposed by the
avant-garde at Flushing Meadow, even if it be ambrosia to the
intelligentsia, was surely caviar to the general.
Our U.S. Steel Armillary Sphere,
the Unisphere, was derided by sour critics. they even said our
wonderful fountains and magnificent night lighting were corny
and we were accused of being crude, dull, defeated, uncouth Boeotians,
lewd fellows of the baser sort."
- Robert Moses
- "The Saga of Flushing
- April 11, 1966
Photos by Joe A. Watson, New
Record, July 1961
RUDOLPH DESIGNS FOR THE NEW YORK FAIR
- The Galaxon, a concrete "space park"
designed by Paul Rudolph, head of the Department of Architecture
at Yale University, has been announced by the Portland Cement
Association as "a proposed project" for the 1964 New
York World's Fair. Its cost is estimated at $4 million.
- Commissioned by the P.C.A. as "a dramatic
and imaginative design in concrete," the Galaxon consists
of a giant, saucer-shaped platform tilted at an 18 deg angle
to the earth and held high above it by two curved walls rising
from a circular lagoon. The gleaming 300 ft diameter disc of
reinforced concrete would hover in the air like some huge space
- Visitors would be lifted to the center of
the "saucer" by escalators and elevators inside the
curved supporting walls. From the central ring they would walk
outward over curved ramps to a constantly moving sidewalk on
the disc's outside perimeter. The sidewalk would rise and fall
from the 160 ft hight apex of the inclined disc, to a low point
approximately 70 ft above the ground.
- A stage is projected from one of its two
supporting walls and a restaurant, planetary viewing station
and other educational or recreational features could be located
at points along its top surface to make it an entertainment center.
- The Galaxon was among several designs displayed
at an exhibition in New York of the use of concrete in so-called