The fair was run during two consecutive years from April 22-October 18, 1964, and April 21-October 17, 1965. It was held in the Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, which had also held the 1939/1940 New York World's Fair.
While called a World's Fair, the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE), an international body based in Paris France that sanctions worlds fairs did not sanction this event. There were a few reasons:
-Fairs were only permitted to run for one 6 month period
-No rent could be charged to exhibitors
-Only one exposition in any given country within a 10 year period.
Robert Moses, who had been hired by the organizers to head the corporation that organized the event, saw the opportunity to complete the vast park in that location that he had started with the 1939-1940 World's Fair. As such, he needed to ensure a profit. It was decided to charge site rental fees to all exhibitors. This was the last point to irritate the BIE (the two year running period being the first, and the fact that the 1962 Seattle World's Fair had already been sanctioned).
The US was not a member of the BIE, and as such, the sanction of the organization was not required, but such sanction would assure that the 40 or so member nations would participate. Moses, not caring about BIE rules, went to Paris to seek approval, and Moses publicly stated his disdain for the BIE and its rules. In return, the BIE formally requested its member nations to not participate in the fair. This meant that members, Canada, Australia, most major European nations and the USSR were not participants. Many other nations also opted to not participate, as they were already scheduled to participate in the Seattle World's Fair and the Montreal World's Fair.
In spite of all of this, smaller nations, and third world nations participated, including a highly popular exhibit from Vatican City, including Michelangelo's Pietà.
The fair also gave Walt Disney an opportunity to design and perfect his "Audio-Animatronics," which would form the basis of many of the attractions in Disneyland and Walt Disney World, with some of the attractions, including "It's a Small World," "Great Moment's with Mr. Lincoln." and the Carousel of Progress moving to Disneyland after the fair (with the last eventually making its way to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
From a financial perspective the fair teetered on bankruptcy, returning only 19.2 cents on the dollar.
While not financially successful, it is well remembered by New York-area Baby Boomers, who visited the fair, with themes of "Peace Through Understanding," and "Man's Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe," before the turbulent years of the Vietnam Era, cultural changes, and the Civil Rights movement.