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Video: Sinclair at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair

Yesteryear Travel: Sinclair at the World's Fair

Queens, New York

The Sinclair Oil Corporation built "Sinclair Dinoland" for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, the first-ever display of life-size full-color fiberglass dinosaurs, and the granddaddy of today's post-Jurassic Park dinosaur parks. But most of Sinclair's 25,000 gas station owners would never visit the Fair, so the company made this film in 1965 to show them what they were missing, "The most spectacular event of this era," according to the narrator. "In a word, it's 'The Greatest.'"

Between promo pitches for Sinclair, the film provides glimpses of the Fair's many wonders, including a monorail, a pavilion inside a giant car motor, and a dolphin wearing a firefighter hat that extinguishes a burning dollhouse by spitting on it. Several minutes are lavished on Sinclair's nutty googie-style World's Fair gas station, manned by bow-tie-wearing pump jockeys and equipped with "orbiting gasoline pumps" that rotate to the nearest car and look like chrome torpedoes.

The Sinclair mascot was a green brontosaurus named "Dino," and the film lavishes much attention on the full-size version at Dinoland. "As a result of being featured as the Sinclair trademark," the narrator insists, "Brontosaurus is world famous." The film also shows how each family entering the Dinoland exhibit received a coupon for a free gallon of gas -- worth about 19 cents in 1964.

The film is an example of an "institutional" movie, created for a select audience and not meant for the general public. All of Sinclair's effort and expense at the World's Fair was a way to sway its visitors into buying Sinclair gasoline once they returned home.

"The idea," says the narrator, "is to get them to stop at your station."

Old Films: Fascinating!

Yesteryear Travel.

The Team has a special appreciation for archival films -- from family home movies to sponsored travel shorts. Senior editor Ken Smith is author of "Mental Hygiene," the definitive book-form history of America's classroom educational and industrial films. He was an archivist and cataloger for Rick Prelinger in the early days of the Prelinger Archives.

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