New York City Pavilion and Ice Theater
The host city of the Fair, which is celebrating its own 300th birthday in 1964, presents two major attractions in its big permanent building. They are an ice show produced by former Olympic figure-skating champion Dick Button, and "Panorama around New York," a simulated helicopter ride over a huge scale model of the city. The model includes every one of New York's 835,000 buildings and all of its streets, ferries, docks, bridges and airports. In the pavilion, there are also a model of the city as it was in 1664; an exhibit of art, sculpture, artifacts and photographs from 34 of the city's most important museums, libraries, zoos and botanical gardens; and a Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority theater that shows color films of the many bridges and tunnels of New York. In addition, the city's radio station, WNYC, and its ultra-high-frequency television station, Channel 31, have moved studios to the building and can be watched in operation. The New York City building is one of two Fair structures (the Amphitheatre is the other) remaining from the 1939 Fair. It also served as the seat of the United Nations General Assembly in 1946 before the U.N. moved to its present site.
The New York City building as seen from the nearby New York State Pavilion observation tower. One of the few permanent buildings in the park, it was originally built for the 1939-40 New York World's Fair. It is now the home of the Queens Museum. (CD #20 Set 108 #19)
Surprises on Ice. In "Dick Button's Ice-Travaganza," 150 skaters, headed by former Olympic stars and comics, perform in 10 romantic vignettes. Around the horseshoe-shaped rink are small spill-out rinks that pour skaters and props (elaborate gardens, ballrooms, ski slopes, St. Valentine Day cards and zoos) onto the skating area and this keeps the show moving at all times.
Unfortunately for producer Dick Button, the show didn't keep moving for long. Like the other shows that charged admission, this one failed to draw audiences who were able to enjoy the many free shows at the Fair. Facing a sea of red ink, the show closed very early during the 1964 season. (CD #41 Set 11 #28)
The Big Town. The incredibly detailed model of the city, which measures 180 by 100 feet, is built to a scale of one inch to 100 feet. At that scale, the Empire State Building is 15 inches tall. The model can be viewed from a balcony where binoculars may be rented (10 cents for a minute and a half) or from the simulated helicopter flight. Passengers enter helicopter-like cars at the Narrows. The cars rise just enough (two feet) to clear the model. As they fly over the city the lighting changes to evening, while a recording tells of the city's history and operations.
This view of the Panorama features the Fair at the center, with LaGuardia Airport off to the right. Updated since the Fair closed, the Panorama is still there today, but sadly without the simulated helicopter ride. (CD #10 Set 50 #57)
The displays at the pavilion also included a cross-section of a support cable for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which was set to open in 1964. The cable section is now located on the Brooklyn side of the bridge but in a much less interesting paint scheme. (CD #11 Set 58 #1)