World's Formerly Largest Rotating Globe
The big, rotating World that set the benchmark for all subsequent big, rotating Worlds is still standing -- but it isn't rotating.
At 25 tons and 28 feet wide, the Babson World Globe was the world's largest rotating earth-ball when it was built in 1955. It was covered with porcelain-baked steel tiles that recreated the continents and oceans. They fell off in 1984 and for the next nine years the World looked like a big, rusted ball. But in 1993 it was restored, and has remained in global standard shape ever since, although its rotating motor was shut down, apparently for good, in the late 1990s.
After the Babson Globe established the record, bigger Earths were built to cast bigger shadows. The Unisphere, symbol of the 1964 New York World's Fair, was the biggest of all at 120 feet in diameter, but it never rotated. A 30-foot-wide, rotating globe was built in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1957, and still stands in the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds, but it no longer rotates. A septuagenarian in the small town of Apecchio, Pesaro, Italy, built a 33-foot-wide rotating globe in the 1990s, but it's unclear if it still rotates or if it even still exists -- and are you going to go to Apecchio, Pesaro, Italy, to find out? Better to stay right here, because the Italian globe was surpassed by even larger, named Eartha, which has rotated just up the highway from the Babson Globe, in Maine, since 1998.
While you're visiting the Babson World Globe, drive behind the Coleman Map Building to see this odd marker:
"This monument has been erected by the Gravity Research Foundation. It is to remind students of the blessings forthcoming when a semi-insulator is discovered in order to harness gravity as a free power and reduce airplane accidents."