GROUNDBREAKING AT THE
FEBRUARY 26, 1963
NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR 1964-1965
FIRST NATIONAL CITY BANK
Following is a transcription of remarks by
First National City Bank and World's Fair offi-
cials at the First National City Bank ground-
breaking ceremony, New York World's Fair,
Tuesday, February 26, 1963.
MR. ERWIN WITT (NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR
COMPTROLLER} : Mr. Perkins, Mr. Moses and gentle-
men of the First National City Bank, of the Fair and
friends : it's a pleasure to welcome the First National City
Bank as not only an exhibitor but a participant in the Fair.
This bank has been an old friend of a great many of us,
and we are really gratified to have them with us. Mr.
Perkins, the chairman of the Executive Committee of First
National City Bank, has a few words to say. Mr. Perkins.
RICHARD S. PERKINS: We are all delighted to be
here and to participate in this groundbreaking ceremony,
and to have the opportunity to see this magnificent exhi-
bition of what the World's Fair really amounts to.
I was just saying to Mr. Moses that all these buildings
running from $50 million down are most impressive.
While we look small in relation to this, our objective is to
make a big contribution by providing the Fair with top-
notch banking facilities.
Essentially we are a service organization. We try to take
care of people of substantial means, and people of very
moderate means, and here we are attempting to perform
a service for the Fair organization, and also on top of that
we are going to be exhibitors. Ours is an international
institution which fits in with the international aspect of
Cover: Rendering of First National City Bank's service branch at the Fair site. The steel, glass and brick structure will be
surrounded by pools, paved walks, birch and magnolia trees. Architect: William Lescaze. Contractor: Diesel Construction Co.
1963 New York WorlcTs Fair 1964-1965 Corporation
Turning earth for First National City Bank are, left to right: Duck-Nam Song, secretary to the governor of the Korean
Reconstruction Bank in Seoul; Robert G. Ehrnrooth, trainee Foreningsbanken, Helsinki, Finland; Thomas R. Wilcox, executive
vice president Metropolitan Division First National City Bank; Richard S. Perkins, chairman of the Executive Committee;
Robert Moses, Fair president; Alfredo Ossa, member of First National City Bank's Legal Department, Santiago, Chile;
Jacques deBroissia, trainee from First National City Bank's Paris Branch,
the Fair. Forty-nine years ago we opened up our first
branch in Buenos Aires, and since that time we have
increased our coverage so that at present we have ninety-
one branches in thirty-two countries. So I think with that
network we'll have some impact on attracting people to
the Fair, and on behalf of Tom Wilcox and my other
associates here, I would like to say that we are impressed
with what we see — we would like to congratulate you,
Mr. Moses, and your associates on the imagination and
planning that you have put into this project. These things
don't just happen. We think that you have done a mag-
MR. ROBERT MOSES [PRESIDENT, NEW YORK
WORLD'S FAIR}: Thank you Mr. Perkins. Mr. Perkins
is quite right. These things don't just happen. This area
has a long, checkered and somewhat dramatic history.
I was pointing out to some people the other day that
wanted to get a good picture by an artist who knew how
to write, that the best description of the old Flushing
Meadow and of the old dump that stood in the center
there, is in the Great Gatsby. And Scott Fitzgerald did
himself proud in telling about that. That's where the main
action of probably the best short story ever written in this
country took place.
When I first looked it over we were planning to build
the first parkway in part financed by the state, within the
limits of New York City. It had been the tradition in
New York not to spend any money on parkways and
expressways in the city, but to let the city people pay for
a substantial part of the work up state. That was one of
the things that griped Governor Smith, and led him to
advocate building the Grand Central Parkway. Theo-
retically we should have levelled the dump and made a
park out of it and put a parkway through it. We didn t
have enough money for that.
Robert Moses, Fair president and Richard S. Perkins, chairman of the Executive Committee of First National City Bank,
shown in the Fair's mode! room holding the Fair's official medallion which was presented to Mr, Perkins during the
First National City Bank groundbreaking ceremony.
So we planned to go through the middle of this great
ash dump, fatty to fifty feet high, which represented the
off-scourings of Brooklyn for a period of some thirty-five
or forty years. It had just been dumped there, and it got
higher and higher. There were fires burning there per-
petuaily, and there were rats so big that Track Mannigan,
who was one of the original contractors, said they put
saddles on them. I don't know whether they did or not,
but they were big rats.
And we levelled the dump and filled up the tortuous
streams that ran through Flushing Meadow, but you'll
have to keep in mind that the dump is still there, in the
sense that it's underground, and that it does not afford a
very fine foundation for buildings. That's one of many
reasons why building anything permanent in this area is
a very expensive business.
As to the Fair itself, all modern fairs have the same
theme which is something in the nature of peace through
friendship, and open competition — inviting nations to
bring their best products — and that of course is the theme
of this Fair. Just like the shields of all the colleges are
always praying for truth and light, and personally I like
to get away from that a little bit, and I like to think of
this in the terms of Mr, Perkins' touchdown, as a sort of
a worldwide competitive thing. Like the Olympic games
where you invite the best athletes to come around and see
And there isn't any protocol, it's not states craft, it's not
states departments, it's not diplomacy. Some of us as you
may know really don't have the qualifications to be diplo-
mats, but we do perhaps have some qualifications for get-
ting things done. That's what we are aiming at here.
Now this is a great bank, a great institution all over the
world. It's progressive, it reaches out, and it has a great
deal to do — we have not only our big industries here
which know how to exhibit and put their best iect for-
ward, and the states which are fairly familiar with this
sort of thing — the United States government and city
— but we have these foreign countries, many of which
are new, ambitious, sensitive and proud, but don't have
much in the way of experience and have very little money.
And Charlie Poletti has been making a terrific effort
to get them into this Fair, We've gone way out of our way
ro bring them in, and to reassure them, and tell them that
the great difficulties they anticipate are not going to occur.
A great bank like yours can do a great deal to help us
in this context. We are not exactly missionaries, but we
are not in this business of the Fair for profit either, and
we expect to pay back what's involved, pay all our debts,
and have enough money left to finish the permanent park.
Now we are delighted that you are here, not only as
the sole and only bank, but also because of your interna-
tional connections. I want to give this to Mr. Perkins as
a symbol. I hope he'll keep it on his desk at the bank.
FIRST NATIONAL CITY BANK
RICHARD S. PERKINS, Chairman of the Executive Committee
THOMAS R. WILCOX, Executive Vice President, Metropolitan Division
JOHN E. THILLY, Senior Vice President, Metropolitan Division
JOSEPH D. FARRELL, Vice President and Group Supervisor of Branches
ROBERT F. BURNS, Manager, World's Fair Branch
Flushing 52, N.Y.
WORLD'S FAIR 1964-1965
Tel- 212-WF 4-1964
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ROBERT MOSES, President
THOMAS J. DEEGAN, JR., Chairman of the Executive Committee
WILLIAM E. POTTER, Executive Vice President
CHARLES POLETTI, Vice President, International Affairs and Exhibits
STUART CONSTABLE, Vice President, Operations
WILLIAM A. BERNS, Vice President, Communications and Public Relations
ERWIN WITT, Comptroller
MARTIN STONE, Director of Industrial Section
GUY F. TOZZOL1, (Port of New York Authority) Transportation Section
ERNESTINE R. HAIG, Secretary of the Corporation and
Assistant to the President
WILLIAM WHIPPLE, JR., Chief Engineer