. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Opening Day – New York World’s Fair – April 21, 1964 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.
To many people, 1964 represented the “last Good Year” – the year before it all became complicated, the year before it all turned cynical. On this April 21st in 1964, it was the opening day of The New York World’s Fair Of 1964 and hopes were high.
Touted as the Greatest World’s Fair ever, The New York World’s Fair of 1964 came to symbolize good intentions turning up short. From the opening day, fears of disruption by Civil Rights demonstrators prompted a large police presence which kept many away that first day. The weather played no favorites either, as the steady stream of rain cast a soggy pall over the festivities.
But more than that, there was a mood – a mood that all this wonderment and these technological advances just didn’t have the same wide-eyed appeal so prevalent at the 1939 World’s Fair or even the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. We buried a President only a few months earlier. We were hearing more and more about Southeast Asia. We were always aware of Berlin, and the Cold War was never more than a newscast away.
There was still an opening and a celebration, and dignitaries were on-hand to cut ribbons and make welcoming speeches. And even though it was considered not to be a success, and in fact teetered on bankruptcy at one point, it nonetheless became a major focal point in the evolution of the Baby Boom generation – that stepping-off point into the unknown only months away.
And to remind you of that opening, here is the opening 2+ hours of the 1964 World’s Fair, as it was broadcast live on April 21, 1964.