1964: Debt

Like the 1939 fair, the 1964 fair fell far short of planners expectations.

The 1964 season closed amid allegations of financial mismanagement and the fair very nearly declared bankruptcy. An accounting error left fair organizers borrowing against anticipated ticket sales and thereby spending money they didn’t have. After an emergency city bailout, the fair stayed afloat but only managed to attract forty-five million visitors, falling well short of the seventy million who the planners anticipated. Ultimately the fair only returned sixty-two cents on the dollar to investors.

Promotional Postage Stamp picturing the 1964/65 World's Fair.

Promotional Postage Stamp picturing the 1964/65 World’s Fair.

One major critique and possible explanation for the underwhelming attendance stemmed from the fact that the fair had no midway or concentrated amusement area. Organizers felt that including a carnival-esque section of the fair created a low-brow atmosphere and thus crowd pleasing amusement rides were relegated to an out of the way area. Further, the rides and games that they did include were generally considered to be fairly dull. This inability to provide adequate amusement directly contributed to the financial trouble that plagued the fair.

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