GROUNDBREAKING AT THE
NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR 1964-1965
SEPTEMBER 26, I962
OWiR a LIGH
Robert Moses, Fair president, and Ernest R.
Acker, president of Electric Power & Light,
Inc., break ground at Flushing Meadow
Park for the nation's investor-owned electric
utility industry's exhibit building.
© 1962 New York World's Fair 1964-1965 Corporation
REMARKS BY WORLD'S FAIR AND ELECTRIC
POWER & LIGHT OFFICIALS AT THE ELECTRIC
POWER & LIGHT EXHIBIT GROUNDBREAKING
CEREMONIES, NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR,
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 1962.
GARLAND S. LANDRITH, JR. [General Manager,
Electric Power & Light Exhibit, Inc.] : We are very happy
that the sun decided to shine this morning on our exhibit
groundbreaking ceremonies. I would like to introduce
Mr. Ernest R. Acker, chairman of the board of Central
Hudson Gas & Electric Company, chairman of the Edison
Electric Institute's World's Fair Committee and president
of Electric Power & Light Exhibit Inc., the organization
set up by the investor-owned electric utility companies to
administer this project at the New York World's Fair.
ERNEST R. ACKER: It is indeed a pleasure to be here
today for this groundbreaking ceremony with my electric
industry associates and with so many members of the
World's Fair Corporation.
In opening these ceremonies, I should like to read a
gracious message from Governor Rockefeller.
Dear Mr. Acker:
It affords me much pleasure to send cordial greet-
ings to all present at the groundbreaking ceremonies
for the exhibit of the investor-owned electric utility
industry in the coming New York World's Fair.
Beyond question this exhibit of your industry will
be not only appropriate to the theme of the World's
Fair, but will also be interesting, informative and
vividly illustrative of this nuclear age in which we
live. I am sure it will be something definitely worth
seeing and worth studying.
With best wishes,
Nelson A. Rockefeller
It was just eighty years ago this month in downtown
Manhattan on Pearl Street that Thomas Edison made his-
tory by opening the world's first central generating station
for what was then the large-scale production and distribu-
tion of electricity. Since that relatively recent date, Amer-
ica's investor-owned electric utility industry has paced the
huge industrial and economic growth of the United States.
Electricity in abundant quantities has become literally
commonplace to Americans. But it has taken uncommon
effort over the years to bring this silent servant to homes,
industry and commerce throughout the nation.
Since we are here today to take the first formal step
toward building our exhibit for the 1964-1965 New York
World's Fair, it might be appropriate to note that the
electric power companies spend more money each year —
over $3 billion — on new construction than any other
industry in the United States. And in keeping with the
international flavor of a World's Fair, we can take pride
in pointing out that through the combined efforts of the
investor-owned utility companies, serving about 80 per
cent of the electric customers, and governmental agencies,
the United States is the greatest producer of electricity on
earth — producing more electricity than the next six na-
Without electricity, no modern industrial society can
exist, and without full electrification, no nation can hope
to compete in today's world. To maintain America's posi-
tion of leadership, the investor-owned electric utilities will
be spending about $140 billion — I repeat billion — over
the next twenty years to build power plants and transmis-
sion lines ahead of the constantly growing demand for
electricity. That's a large sum — even by World's Fair
Commissioner Moses has said the Fair will be dedicated
to man's achievements on a shrinking globe in an expand-
ing universe — his inventions, discoveries, arts, skills and
aspirations. We honestly believe that the unique design of
our building, expressed in the model here beside me, and
the story told in our exhibit will contribute substantially
to this aim.
As you can see from this large-scale model, our exhibit
building is a sort of pavilion of light prisms in an irregu-
lar pattern — resembling a Gothic "Cathedral of Light"
— rising to a height of eighty feet and crowned by three
vertical pylons rising another forty feet. The pylons will
frame a super-brilliant shaft of light rising from a mass
of searchlights within the central core of the building.
This searchlight core will be visible to visitors through a
vertical opening in the building as they approach the
entrance and of course the shaft of light above the build-
ing will be visible from the surrounding countryside for
The vertically staggered triangular prisms are metallic
shells, the exterior surfaces of which will be fluted with
thin vertical fins of multi-colored metal so that as a visitor
walks past the building in the daytime, it will appear to
In addition to the brilliant tower of light after dark,
the building will be bathed in colored lights. Once inside
the building the Fair visitors will be carried through a
dramatic show on an elevated revolving ring and will exit
by a spiral ramp leading them past the core of the tower
As our progress here indicates, we expect to begin major
construction on this exciting project very shortly and well
The Electric Power & Light
Exhibit, Inc., depicted here,
will consist of vertically stag-
gered triangular metal prisms
rising to a height of eighty feet.
Crowning the pavilion will be
three vertical pylons rising
from a mass of searchlights
within the central core of the
before the rash of building activity next spring.
Because our groundbreaking today is, in a sense, com-
memorative of the 80th anniversary of the opening of
Thomas Edison's Pearl Street Station, we are particularly
honored with the presence of a member of the Edison
family, John Edison Sloane, grandson of Thomas Edison.
Next, let me introduce Mr. Edwin Vennard, vice presi-
dent and managing director of Edison Electric Institute,
and vice president of our project.
Let me also introduce Mr. Alfred Stern, president of
Robinson-Capsis-Stern Associates, Inc., the designers and
producers of our show, and Mr. James Fitzgibbon, presi-
dent of Synergetics, Inc., of Raleigh, North Carolina,
architects and engineers for our project.
I would also like to introduce the chairman of our
committee on exhibits, Mr. Ray Martin, of Consolidated
Edison Company of New York. He and the members of
his committee, many of whom are with us today, have
been working closely with the designers and producers of
the show, and are largely responsible for the interior exhi-
bits in our building.
Before introducing the next speaker, I should like to
say a few words about this man who, more than anyone
else, is responsible for our being here today. For over 40
years, this master builder and civic planner has provided
the creative thought and driving force that developed so
many of the greatest public works of our times including
our matchless parks, beaches, and bridges and hundreds
of miles of parkways and expressways, and of course the
great Niagara Power Development.
He has served the people of New York under every
Governor since AI Smith, and most recently has assumed
the responsibility for the breathtaking 1964-1965 World's
Fair project. With his inspiration and leadership the suc-
cess of the project is absolutely assured. I refer, of course,
to Commissioner Robert Moses.
ROBERT MOSES : I think I can say without exaggeration
or hyperbole that this is really a wonderful building.
Ordinarily I am not very keen on buildings that are built
from outside in as compared to inside out. We have too
many buildings that are simply monuments to the archi-
tects. But this is a beautiful building and you have room
inside for everything you want to show. It will not only be
attractive in the daytime, as Mr. Acker pointed out, but
will be stunning at night. I don't know what I should say
about this industry. I have been a sort of in-between,
middle-of-the-road fellow in all this utility business. As
head of the Power Authority here in New York at. the
beginning of our efforts way back in the early part of the
first Smith administration, we were supposed to be the real
left wing radicals and socialists — that is what they called
them at that time — and on the other side were the utility
people. The two camps were just absolutely irreconcilable.
I am not much on this irreconcilable business — the irre-
sistible force and the immovable object — there is no
sense in that and I think we have demonstrated, at least
as far as the Power Authority of New York is concerned,
that we can work in the greatest harmony, amicably with
the electric industry. We have done that. For example,
we are building a tie-line between the Niagara and the
St. Lawrence system — a tie-line right in the middle —
which in part is owned, controlled, operated, built and
everything else by utility interests. It has been found out
by the utility people that we don't have heads and horns
and hoofs and tails and we are not as devilish as we were
pictured at the beginning, and of course we have found
that the utility people are good people to work with. There
is no problem in bringing about some sort of basic agree-
ment under which the resources — the electric resources,
the power resources, the river resources — could be con-
trolled at the source by the Government and then have the
power distributed by the utility companies. I would not
want to see any such system as has been planned in other
states, under which everything from the development of
water power and the dropping of the water through the
penstocks to the lighting of the last lamp-post in the city,
was done by the Government. I think it would be a very
unfortunate thing. I don't think it would work. Now we
have a partnership there, as we have a partnership here
at the Fair.
I have only one other thing to say. I am not going to
attempt to evaluate or compare the sciences with the
humanities — we could argue about that till the cows come
home. There are people who want to spend all their time
discussing why we don't devote more time to the humani-
ties, the arts and all that kind of thing. We are devoting
time to them. But what impresses our competitors most is
this sort of thing, this sort of an exhibit. It is what we have
done in the electrical field and what we have done in
science which are, I am sure, the subjects to which the
Russians are going to address themselves when we find
out finally what they are going to do. They are impressed
by this kind of thing; not by many other things we do,
some of them good. They simply don't care about them.
The Fair has as one of its objects the free competition
of ideas and inventions which is bound to command the
respect of the very people we have to impress in the long
We are grateful to you for coming here. You are going
to have our cooperation and I am sure this exhibit is going
to be one of the great shows of the World's Fair.
puaaM * (13) IWM Stilt. Stttl
Speakers at recent Electric Power & Light Exhibit, Inc.
groundbreaking ceremonies. Left to right: Garland S.
Landrith, Jr., ge?zeral manager of the exhibit, Ernest
R. Acker, exhibit president, and Robert Moses, Fair
ELECTRIC POWER & LIGHT EXHIBIT, INC.
ERNEST R. ACKER, President
EDWIN VENNARD, Vice President
GARLAND S. LANDRITH, JR., Genera/ Manager
JOHN D. GRAY, Treasurer
C. R. BOZEK, Assistant Treasurer
NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR 1964-1965 CORPORATION
Flushing 52, N. Y. Tel.: 212-WF 4-1964
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
ERWIN WITT, Comptroller
MARTIN STONE, Director of Industrial Section
GUY F. TOZZOLI, (Port of New York Authority) Transportation Section
ERNESTINE R. HAIG, Secretary of the Corporation and
Assistant to the President
WILLIAM WHIPPLE, JR., Chief Engineer