Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cliche, Refurbished

Unisphere, shown during the 1964-65 New York World's Fair

Today's Wall Street Journal has this article about the refurbished Unisphere built as the centerpiece of the 1964-65 New York World's Fair.

The article by Tomas J. Campanella, "Icon of a Fair, a Borough, the World," provides a capsule history of the Unisphere and then offers examples of criticism leveled against it when new.

The 1964-65 World's Fair never lived up to its own high expectations, drawing only a fraction of the projected visitors. To critics, the Unisphere symbolized the banal, corporate atmosphere of the event. Newsday called it "deathly dull. It looks like an ad for Western Union." ...

Architectural Forum called it "a heavy, literal version of the ancient armillary sphere, with decoration by Rand McNally." But the people loved the Unisphere from the start.

No reference supports the assertion regarding public "love." I never heard any spontaneous expressions of it in the years I lived in the striking-distance zone of the city. But then, the subject of the Unisphere never came up in any conversations that I can recall.

My opinion? I admired the Trilon and Perisphere, symbols of the 1939-40 world's fair on the same site. In comparison, I thought the Unisphere was a gross cliché, poverty of imagination in the extreme. And I still think so.

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