Author Archive

 

(l.) Unisphere from the 1964 World's Fair; (r.) Cover of Tomorrow-Land. Photos courtesy TAPorto, Flickr; Lyons Press.
(l.) Unisphere from the 1964 World's Fair; (r.) Cover of Tomorrow-Land.

The theme of the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York was “Peace Through Understanding.” But as Joseph Tirella demonstrates in his forthcoming book, Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World’s Fair and the Transformation of America (Lyons Press), the fair’s preparations -- and the United States, in general -- were anything but peaceful in turbulent 1960s America.

Tirella, a widely published journalist who has covered Queens, N.Y., for the New York Times’ City section, follows New York’s fair from its earliest days as a seed of an idea to 18 months after the last visitor left the fairgrounds and the land was rechristened Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

With great detail, he tells the story of powerful Robert Moses, New York’s “Master Builder” who used any number of tricks and tactics to create the fair he envisioned -- even when it became clear to the public that the fair was a financial disaster. He lays bare the political landscape of New York and all its major players, as well as all the negotiations and in-fighting that took place during the years leading up to the fair’s opening.

And Tirella takes readers past these planning stages to the opening day of the fair, when the pavilions were largely panned by architecture critics and the number of actual visitors fell far short of expectations.

1964 World's Fair Pavilion. Photo courtesy: Bill Cotter, www.worldsfairphotos.com
1964 World's Fair Pavilion

But understanding the 1964-65 fair and what led to its disappointing outcome, Tirella argues, requires an examination beyond the fair itself. It requires a closer look at America in the ‘60s. After all, fairs had always been a celebration of cultures, nations, and ideas, with an eye to the excitement of the future. Why was this fair not greeted with the same enthusiasm?

To answer that, Tirella presents an impressive historic overview of the decade, spanning popular music trends, the political climate, Civil Rights efforts, and the rise in urban crime. He surveys the major players of the decade -- the Beatles, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Andy Warhol, for starters -- and the major events -- like the Harlem Riots, New York City’s crackdown on downtown bohemians and artists, and the Vietnam War -- to show that the world was changing in ways that no longer fit with the common ethos of the fairs of the past.

Tomorrow-Land will hit bookshelves in January 2014, just months before the 50th anniversary of the opening of the New York World’s Fair.

Until then, you can read more about the fair, and the current state of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, in the Fall 2013 issue of Preservation magazine.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.

Imaginations Lift Off at Los Arboles "Rocketship" Park

Posted on: September 12th, 2013 by Lauren Walser 4 Comments

 

The Rocketship Park. Credit: Neil Klemer, Flickr.
The Rocketship Park in Torrance, California.

For generations of children who have grown up in Torrance, Calif., traveling to outer space was as easy as visiting Los Arboles “Rocketship” Park.

The highlight of the 6.3-acre park, completed in the 1960s, has long been the 28-foot-tall rocket ship play structure, purchased from a catalog of playground equipment shortly after a local developer donated the land for the park to the city.

On any given day for the last five decades, park visitors would see children scaling the ladder inside the ship from one level to the next and careening down the metal slide on the outside of the structure.

“Kids feel like they’re blasting off into space,” says Janet Payne, a vice president with Torrance Historical Society.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.

The Art Deco Treatment: Stanford Restores Hospital in Palo Alto

Posted on: September 4th, 2013 by Lauren Walser 1 Comment

 

The Stanford Medical Center gleams after the renovation. Credit: Bruce Damonte.
The Hoover Pavilion gleams after the renovation.

No major medical breakthroughs happened at the original Palo Alto Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., and no scientific discoveries were made there. But the hospital, which treated thousands of patients in the decades after it opened in 1931, holds one important distinction: it’s a stunning example of pre-World War II hospital architecture. And the Art Deco building recently returned to its original glory after an extensive restoration.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.

 

Independence, Texas, was founded in 1835, and was the original site of Baylor University. Credit: The Texas Collection, Baylor University
Independence, Texas, was founded in 1835, and was the original site of Baylor University.

For the past 40 years, David and Mary Wolff have spent long weekends leaving their home in Houston, Texas, and driving 83 miles northwest, crossing the Brazos River and watching as hay bales replace skyscrapers, until they pulled into the driveway of their ranch home in Independence, Texas.

An unincorporated village in Texas’ Washington County, Independence was founded in 1835 and 10 years later was the chosen site of Baylor University. Sam Houston once called Independence home, as did a number of European immigrants, and during the 1850s, the village was the wealthiest community in the state.

But after the Civil War, Independence’s economy changed. The railroad bypassed the town, and Baylor relocated to Waco. The farmland remained active, though, and the town carried on.

When the Wolffs bought their Independence ranch in 1973, they didn’t know much about the village, beyond its unparalleled natural beauty.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.

A. Quincy Jones: Modern Architecture's Team Player

Posted on: July 26th, 2013 by Lauren Walser 1 Comment

 

Milton S. Tyre House. Los Angeles, California, 1951-54. A. Quincy Jones and Frederick E. Emmons, Architects. Credit: Jason Schmidt, Courtesy Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.
Milton S. Tyre House. Los Angeles, California, 1951-54.

A. Quincy Jones really liked to collaborate.

That, more than anything, is what I took away from the current exhibit at Los Angeles’ Hammer Museum, A. Quincy Jones: Building for Better Living, part of the current Getty initiative Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. and the first major retrospective of the often-overlooked architect’s work who contributed so much to late mid-century modern design.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.