From the NY Times:
ON April 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy, sitting in the Oval Office, pressed the numbers 1964 on an early touch-tone telephone. It was an exciting, if stage-managed, moment.
At the other end of the line, the directors of the New York World’s Fair were gathered in their offices in what is now called Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. At the press of the presidential buttons, a large “countdown clock” began ticking off the days remaining until the opening of the 1964 New York World’s Fair one year hence.
The telephone now sits on a shelf at the newly renovated Queens Museum, pulled out of storage along with about 900 other artifacts from the 1939 and 1964 fairs. They serve as a reminder that the building itself is a kind of artifact, built to house the New York City Pavilion at the 1939 fair. They also remind us that the great fairs generated an extraordinary amount of junk.
Yes, the world’s fairs communicated lofty ideals and grand plans. The 1939 fair promised a sneak preview of “the world of tomorrow,” expressed visually in its emblem, the spirelike Trylon and spherical Perisphere. The 1964 fair took as its motto “peace through understanding.” But the fairs were carnivals, too, vast cornucopias of trinkets, promotional ephemera and mass-produced gewgaws emblazoned with fair advertising.
And so the eye beholds, in the glass display cases devoted to the 1939 fair: a tin Planter’s peanut dish, with the monocled Mr. Peanut posing jauntily in front of the Trylon and Perisphere; tiny green pickle lapel pins from the Heinz pavilion; an orange-and-blue Trylon and Perisphere salt and pepper shaker set; a Trylon and Perisphere pencil sharpener; Trylon and Perisphere bracelets in lustrous Bakelite; a 1939 New York State license plate stamped with the words “New York World’s Fair.” Also, many coins, penknives, dishes, bookmarks and thermometers.