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AT&T Archives: Ballad for the Fair

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Uploaded on Apr 4, 2011

See more from the AT&T Archives at http://techchannel.att.com/archives

Folk singer Oscar Brand provides the music for this "film poem," a day in the life of the 1964 World's Fair in Queens, NY, with special attention paid to the Bell System building at the Fair.

This film is a fast-moving visit to the 1964 Fair. All major areas of the fair are represented -- international, industrial, federal and states, transportation and amusements. The narration form gives the film its title -- Oscar Brand sings the "Ballad." The song was specially written for the film.

Some of the construction leading up to opening day is contrasted to the finished appearance of the grounds later in the film. Many pavilions and the Unisphere are shown, but the Bell Pavilion is the main focus. The "Floating Wing" pavilion of the Bell System is given a quick tour, as people ride the 17-minute moving, Disney-style slow ride through telecommunications history (with music by Morton Gould), and visit such exhibits as The Vocoder, Patterns of your Voice, Electronic Switching, and the Picturephone.

The film closes with the fireworks and water show that was produced nightly in front of the Bell Pavilion at the Pool of Industry.

While the Unisphere still exists on the Queens fairgrounds (now the Flushing Meadows park), most buildings were torn down or removed following the Fair. Some notable exceptions can be found scattered across the U.S.:
The giant tire ferris wheel for Royal Tire is a landmark along I-94 west of Detroit, Michigan.

The Skyway tower structures and gondolas were moved to Six Flags Great Adventure (at that time called Great Adventure) in New Jersey.
"It's a Small World" was transferred to Disneyland.

Nothing remains of the Bell Pavilion. But many of the ideas in this pavilion about communications and the future were later transferred to the "Spaceship Earth" building at Epcot Center, which opened in 1982 sponsored by Bell, then sponsored by AT&T from 1984 to 2004.

Music: Oscar Brand
Producer: An Owen Murphy Production

Footage courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ

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