Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Male chosen to head up 1965 NY World's Fair's "World of Tomorrow" had to be born in the Victorian Era...

Lawrence R Samuel's book, "THE END OF THE INNOCENCE" re-assessing the much-overlooked NY World's Fair of 1964-1965, is a goldmine of telling little anecdotes.

Samuel, for example, notes that the application requirements issued in October 1959 for the top 'man' leading the fair (no women need apply), had to be between fifty and sixty - almost by definition pushing any successful applicant to a birth before Edward VII's August 1902 coronation ended the Victorian Era.

In the end the timid hiring committee rescued caution from the wind and went with a man not merely born in the Victorian Era , but in fact a fully formed teenager of the nineteenth century : Robert Moses !

The irony was that Robert Kopple, the father of two young preteen daughters who had gotten the idea of a second NY World's Fair going, did so because he felt the young were ill informed about the world they were about to become the future leaders of.

Mr Kopple made it abundantly clear that the seventy something Moses, a true man of yesterday, wasn't the best person to tell young teenagers all about the world of tomorrow -  and Mose made sure Kopple got 'fired' for his efforts.

The problem was that Moses was born in 1888 while the target audience for a 1965 fair oriented to evoking the near future was probably a teenager born in 1949 more than 60 years later.

So Mose's personal vision for the Fair (a sort of Trivoli Gardens moved a few thousand kilometres west of Copenhagen) was far, far out of date.

For what had been once considered hip (for Mose's grandparents) was now less than hip to Mose's grandchildren.

Never no mind : in August 1965, the Beatles were also in the same neighbourhood at the same time (just across Roosevelt Avenue at in the brand new Shea Stadium), humming a very different tune....

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