The 1964/1965 New York World's Fair held over 140 pavilions, 110 restaurants, for 80 nations (hosted by 37), 24 US states, and over 45 corporations to build exhibits or attractions at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, NY. The immense fair covered 646 acres on half the park, with numerous pools or fountains, and an amusement park with rides near the lake.
Many of the pavilions were built in a Mid-Century modern style that was heavily influenced by "Googie architecture". This was a futurist architectural style influenced by car culture, jet aircraft, the Space Age, and the Atomic Age, which were all on display at the fair. The pavilion architectures often expressed a new-found freedom of form enabled by modern building materials, such as reinforced concrete, fiberglass, plastic, tempered glass, and stainless steel.
Hailing itself as a "universal and international" exposition, the fair's theme was "Peace Through Understanding", dedicated to "Man's Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe". American companies dominated the exposition as exhibitors. The theme was symbolized by a 12-story-high, stainless-steel model of the earth called the Unisphere, built on the foundation of the Perisphere from the 1939 NYC fair.
This is still the World's Largest “World”, it has a diameter of 120 feet, is twelve stories tall and weighs 700,000 pounds. Originally sketched by Gilmore Clarke on the back of an envelope, the Unisphere was built in just over five months and made of stainless steel so it would never rust. The three rings encircling it represent the orbits of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (the first Russian), Astronaut John Glenn (the first American), and Telstar (the first active communications satellite).
A notable pavilion was IBM’s Ovoid Theater, which was designed by Eero Saarinen and Charles Eames’s and was their largest and most impressive undertaking to date. To reach the Ovoid Theater, visitors were lifted 53 feet into the egg-like structure by means of the “People Wall.” Configured like a grandstand, it could carry over 400 guests. The Theater housed a field of 22 multi-sized, multi-shaped screens where visitors watched the Eames presentation, Think.
Below the Ovoid Theater, the Eames Office created an amalgam of activities to introduce IBM’s newest products. The grounds also featured components from the exhibition Mathematica: A World of Numbers . . . and Beyond, which showed a 2 minute peep show of “Powers of Ten”, one of the Eameses’ best-known films.
The film illustrates the universe as an arena of both continuity and change, of everyday picnics and cosmic mystery. It begins with a close-up shot of a man sleeping near the lakeside in Chicago, viewed from one meter away. The landscape steadily moves out until it reveals the edge of the known universe. Then, at a rate of 10-to-the-tenth meters per second, the film takes us towards Earth again, continuing back to the sleeping man’s hand and eventually down to the level of a carbon atom.