GM Powerama - Chicago 1955

©Original 35mm Kodachrome transparency
One of the largest GM Motoramas ever built, the September 1955 GM Powerama lasted 26 days and cost $7-million dollars (in 1955 dollars!) Held just south of soldier field, the fair included the first solar-powered electric car. You would think that maybe 54 years later, they would be in production by now?

©Original 35mm Kodachrome transparency
This is the same venue that hosted the Chicago Railroad Fair of 1950, described elsewhere on this blog.

©Original 35mm Kodachrome transparency
Despite the electric car debut, the main theme was DIESEL POWER!! Some over-the-top events included a tractor hoe-down with choreographed tractors square dancing, A bulldozer chorus line, a dumptruck chorus line, a Bulldozer vs. elephant event, a net-full of girls, a trapeze act, high dives into a giant dump truck, a Vegas-style stage show and more.

©Original 35mm Kodachrome transparency
A herd of 6 elephants approaching a waiting bulldozer. The lead one with the top-hat will challenge the bulldozer in a tug-of-war, and of course lose.

©Original 35mm Kodachrome transparency
The tractor hoe-down. Looks like a square dance with the men tractors wearing hats, and the ladies (with female drivers) wearing bonnets.

©Original 35mm Kodachrome transparency
The Convair concept plane created for vertical take-off (VTO). Called the Pogo, it could take off vertically into flight, and then arch into level flight. To land, would stall and hang by its propeller. Despite its unconventional appearance and layout, J.F. Coleman, the test pilot, reported that the Convair XFY-1 Pogo was one of the best handling aircraft he had ever flown (in conventional flight mode). By the time Convair XFY-1 Pogo had been developed enough to be a feasible design the US Navy had lost interest in the aircraft, and the project was canceled.

©Original 35mm Kodachrome transparency
Lighter, lower, faster and costing less, the GM Aerotrain was ahead of its time. It rode on a bellows of air, and was fast - the center of gravity was very low. This is the first of two "Dream Trains" built, the T1. Again, somehow we lost interest. Love the styling! Designer: Chuck Jordan.

©Original 35mm Kodachrome transparency
The Regulus was the Navy's first sea-bourne nuclear deterrent. Essentially a small turbojet aircraft, 42 feet long, with a wingspan of 21 feet, and weighing in at just under seven tons, its Allison J33-A-14 engine could propel the missile to Mach 0.91 (about 550 knots). Either a 40-50 kiloton nuclear warhead or a 1-2 megaton thermonuclear device could be carried. POWERAMA!

These last two images taken from Life magazines archives, located on Google here.


USSR at the 1958 World's Fair in Brussels

© Original Diapositive Kodachromes Fabriqué en France

The monumental Russian pavilion from 1958 as seen from the United States; the Saudi-Arabian/UAR/Arab Federation pavilion can be seen on the right. Measuring 500 by 240 feet wide, the USSR pavilion was created so that the outer walls were suspended by cables attached to eight pairs of steel supports. Impressive and sturdy, the central themes were technology, industry and transportation.

The impressive entrance hall. This could be seen as the start of the cold war between Russia and America, or at the least, the beginning of the space race. One of the main features in this area was the Sputnik satellite, seen above and below. Launched in October 1957, the little beach-ball-sized satellite really caused a chain of events in America. In July 1958, Congress passed the National Aeronautics and Space Act (commonly called the "Space Act"), which created NASA. In fact, look at the US pavilion 6 years later at the '64 World's Fair - it is almost entirely space-related.

Sputnik display and some other machinery (high-tech in 1958, no doubt.)

He's so big, he's got to be great. Where is this statue today?

I love this populist mural depicting patriotism. When other countries do this, we call it propaganda.

I think this has something to do with polar exploration and ice-breaking technologies.

A group of nuns pass by a display of Russian textiles.

More "industry." My guess is these are state of the art electric drills. (I don't have good literature on this fair, and the official guide book is very brief and poorly translated.)


United States Pavilion at Expo 1958 in Brussels, Belgium

I found a box of Expo 58 slides I hadn't seen in a while, and now have a new appreciation for this Expo. Officially called the Brussels World Exhibition 1958, it was the first postwar world's fair, and the architecture and optimism reflects that. The notable metallic Atomium, which still stands as an icon of the fair, is one of the most astonishing buildings of the world.

The United States Pavilion
Architect: Edward D. Stone

The United States focused on "American Humanism" at the fair and portrayed the openess and plentitude of the American life. What was notably missing from the exhibit was the governments obsession with national security. In fact, American enthusiasm towards the fair was lackluster until plans for a monumental Soviet pavilion became public. Things moved quickly from there, and plans for a pavilion as large as the Roman Coliseum were soon finalized.

There's a "typical" American beach here, with a sailboat, grill, outboard motor, people on lounge chairs.

The theme was “Research for the Good of Humanity.” Culture and arts were stressed. The “Cicarama,” a 360° circular theater debuted here.