Motivated by potentially turning Flushing Meadows, literally a land of refuse, into his greatest public park, Robert Moses—New York's "Master Builder"—brought the World's Fair to the Big Apple for 1964 and '65. Though considered a financial failure, the 1964-65 World' s Fair was a Sixties flashpoint in areas from politics to pop culture, technology to urban planning, and civil rights to violent crime.
In an epic narrative, the New York Times bestseller Tomorrow-Land shows the astonishing pivots taken by New York City, America, and the world during the Fair. It fetched Disney's empire from California and Michelangelo's La Pieta from Europe; and displayed flickers of innovation from Ford, GM, and NASA—from undersea and outerspace colonies to personal computers. It housed the controversial work of Warhol (until Governor Rockefeller had it removed); and lured Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. Meanwhile, the Fair—and its house band, Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians—sat in the musical shadows of the Beatles and Bob Dylan, who changed rock-and-roll right there in Queens. And as Southern civil rights efforts turned deadly, and violent protests also occurred in and around the Fair, Harlem-based Malcolm X predicted a frightening future of inner-city racial conflict.
World's Fairs have always been collisions of eras, cultures, nations, technologies, ideas, and art. But the trippy, turbulent, Technicolor, Disney, corporate, and often misguided 1964-65 Fair was truly exceptional.
Joseph Tirella wrote about Queens for The New York Times’s much missed City Section, and penned pieces for the paper’s Metro and Business Sections. A former Senior Editor at Fortune Small Business, his work has also appeared in Rolling Stone, Vibe, Esquire, Reader’s Digest, the New York Post, the Daily News, Portfolio.com, and MSN.com.
—Gay Talese, author of The Kingdom and the Power, The Bridge, and A Writer's Life
—Emily Raboteau, author of Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora“With Tomorrow-Land, Joseph Tirella makes a riveting case for Queens, New York, as the origin of all that is great and modern in today’s America. If you’ve ever wondered what Robert Moses, Andy Warhol, and Malcolm X have in common, this book connects the dots and more. Tirella breathes in all the tumult and cultural vertigo surrounding the 1964 World’s Fair, and exhales an intoxicating swirl of pure possibility.” —Alec Foege, author of The Tinkerers: The Amateurs, DIYers, and Inventors Who Make America Great“This book is filled with fascinating stories about global political contests between the Soviet Union and the United States, domestic protests against social inequality, the politics of massive resistance waged by conservatives of both major parties, corporations playing social engineering games, America becoming a multicultural nation, and New York City experiencing massive physical change. Joseph Tirella’s Tomorrow-Land takes us back in time fifty years and documents through thorough research and wonderful narrative how the World’s Fair fell short of its goal to promote, ‘Peace Through Understanding,’ but still managed to give America an accurate vision of its future self.” —Brian Purnell, Africana Studies and History, Bowdoin College, and author of Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings: The Congress of Racial Equality in Brooklyn“First-time author Tirella, a former reporter for the New York Times, adroitly switches focus from [Robert] Moses and the fair to external events in the city, nation and world and back again, following several disparate threads—the civil rights dialectic between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., a New York City obscenity crusade that targeted Lenny Bruce and the gay bohemian subculture, the parallel paths of the Beatles and Bob Dylan, the escalation of the Vietnam War—and never losing control of the narrative’s forward momentum…. [T]he World’s Fair provides an excellent perspective on the 1960s in America…. Top-notch popular history.” —Kirkus Reviews"A model of accessible narrative, showing the author’s immersion in archival research, this book will be appreciated most by those who love reading about Sixties or New York City history or, of course, world’s fairs." —Library Journal
A New York Times Bestseller that gives a vivid account of a spectacle that embodied the innovation, lunacy, hope, and fear of the 1960s—a turning-point that featured a censored Andy Warhol, a visionary Walt Disney, the psychedelic Merry Pranksters, an Audio-Animatronic Abraham Lincoln, the real-life LBJ, all facets of the Civil Rights struggle, and much, much more