Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sinclair Dinoland: NY World's Fair ('64-65)

Teaching my kid about dinosaurs recently reminded me of this 1960's Sinclair booklet I have which shows us, through the use of really great painted art and design, the connection that prehistoric monsters played with modern day crude oil refinery. Dinoland itself appeared to have been a highly detailed, outdoor, walk-thru exhibit constructed by Sinclair (aka "A Great Name in Oil") to help educate and promote their company at the New York World's Fair in 1964-65, with reenactments of full-scale dinosaurs in their natural habits. (FYI: google search "Sinclair Dinoland" to see many great photos taken at the fair itself.)



Mr. Cavin said...

You know, I was going to snark a little bit about the snazzy planning image that shows the whole park: were they actually so optimistic about this place they really thought people were going to flock to a two-hundred-yard sun-blasted pathway decorated with nine dinosaur sculptures? Don't get me wrong, I'd totally go--I love giant cement dinos and kitsch and the fifties. But the general public? Why would they want to go? Then I happened to actually click the Google image search link you provided and there was evidence of just that. People were totally mobbing the place in nearly every single frame. Even though there weren't even any minigolf greens or anything. I feel like I owe either people or dinosaurs an apology now. Like I underestimated them.

Also, I totally dig that this is maybe the first dinosaurorama I have ever seen that didn't include one of the statues (like the T-Rex, for example) snacking on one of the other statues (say, the duck-billed guy). I have a theory that, while all dinosaurs are understood to be extinct, there are a couple kinds that are always presented more dead than the others. I've seen museum displays where poor iguanodon is being eaten by the mere skeleton of an allosaurus. Man. It doesn't get much deader than that. But these things never happen in Dinoland, it seems, where the refreshing and peaceful coexistence of radically different dino types seems to avoid the standard clichés.

Mykal Banta said...

Boy this brings back memories. My dad bought me a big, green inflatable Sinclair dinosaur when I was a kid.

Jeez, I remember going to a gas station back in the early sixties - my dad drove up to the pump, and everyone remained in the car. A guy came out, dressed in a uniform, and filled your tank, washed your windows, checked the oil - and then brought you the change. Hell, you could buy stuff like glassware and Christmas albums at the gas station!

Now I watch old ladies have to get out of their car and pump their own gas for $5.00 a gallon. Everything blows now.

Chris Smigliano said...

I actually remember this exhibit when I was a kid. Apparaently nthey took it on tour because it was appearing at Northshore Shopping Center in Peabody, MA.We even took home a number of plastic dinosaur figurines they were giving away at the exhibit. We played with those for years.

bzak said...


I had one of those big, green inflatable dinosaurs as well. I remember taking it to a rival gas station behind the house to inflate it at the air hose and people there were laughing at me for this faux pas.

Dinosaurs and bats rule!

Brian Riedel

Mr. Karswell said...

I grew up with Sinclair stations all around STL county, and had my own fair share of plastic and inflatable bronto toys. Funny story, the yearly senior prank thing at my school was for some jokester to swipe the big green brntosaurus in front of the station and park it on the school steps on the last day of school. This happened a few years in a row until the station finally wised up and secured the thing to a giant concrete block.

Thanks for the commments, I especially like when we get one from someone that actually went to something like the World's Fair too!

KL from NYC said...

I lived nearby in Queens at that time. I remember there was a coin-operated machine to make your own plastic dinosaur (of course Sinclair also had financial interests in injection-molded plastics at the time).

You know that anything "World's Fair" in half-decent shape goes for big bucks nowadays, right?