Giant Dinosaurs Travel Down the Hudson River: See What Awestruck New Yorkers Witnessed in 1963

Amaz­ing things hap­pen every day in New York City—some spon­ta­neous, some whose exe­cu­tion is care­ful­ly planned over weeks and months.

Equal­ly amaz­ing is the total igno­rance with which one can go about one’s busi­ness at just a few blocks remove … be it the Coney Island Mer­maid Parade, Egg Rolls and Egg Creams, or the Three Kings Day Parade, some folks only have eyes for brunch.

But it would have been dif­fi­cult for any­one to over­look sev­en ani­ma­tron­ic dinosaurs, trav­el­ing by barge on Octo­ber 15, 1963, bound for the Sin­clair Oil Cor­po­ra­tion’s “Dinoland” exhib­it at the 1964 World’s Fair.

In a stunt wor­thy of Bar­num, the syn­thet­ic beasts trekked 150 miles from the exhibit’s design­er, Jonas Stu­dios, to the World’s Fair site in Flush­ing, Queens, hailed by fire­boats and an enthu­si­as­tic throng. The spon­sor­ing cor­po­ra­tion, whose high­ly rec­og­niz­able logo was a bron­tosaurus, had fur­nished the pub­lic with a timetable of esti­mat­ed arrivals along the route.


For good mea­sure, every fam­i­ly to vis­it the exhib­it with­in the first year was offered a coupon for a free gal­lon of gaso­line.

Installed in what the mar­velous­ly evoca­tive Jam Handy short below termed a “prime loca­tion sur­round­ed by titans of Amer­i­can indus­try,” the dinosaurs attract­ed over 10 mil­lion “car-own­ing, trav­el­ing” fans. (That’s a lot of fos­sil fuel.)

On the way out, vis­i­tors were encour­aged to avail them­selves of the Mold-A-Rama machine, which pumped out minia­ture plas­tic dinosaur sou­venirs at 25¢ a pop.

After the fair closed, the dinosaurs went on tour, put in an appear­ance in the Macy’s Thanks­giv­ing Day Parade, and even­tu­al­ly set­tled into zoos and nat­ur­al his­to­ry muse­ums around the coun­try.

Read the Dinoland guide­book here. A sam­ple:

Sin­clair uses the Dinosaur “Bron­tosaurus” as a sym­bol to dra­ma­tize the age and qual­i­ty of the crude oils from which Sin­clair Petro­le­um Prod­ucts are made — crudes which were mel­low­ing in the earth mil­lions of years ago when Dinosaurs lived.

via @Pickover

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Ger­tie the Dinosaur: The Moth­er of all Car­toon Char­ac­ters (1914)

Watch Lost World (1925), the Grand­dad­dy of Giant Mon­ster Movies Like The Lost World: Juras­sic Park

Watch a Time­lapse Video Show­ing the Cre­ation of New York City’s Sky­line: 1500 to Present

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Her play Zam­boni Godot is open­ing in New York City in March 2017. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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