The Queen's Museum of Art is having an exhibition about the New York State Pavilion at the 1964-1965 World's Fair in conjuction with the conservation program for the Great Texaco Road Map floor.
One of the most popular attractions at the Pavilion's Tent of Tomorrow was its enormous terrazzo pavement based on a Texaco road map of the state of New York. Designed by Philip Johnson Associates following ancient precedents in depicting the world as a pavement, the Pavilion's floor celebrated a familiar icon of American pop culture-the road map. Conceived to be the largest geographic representation in the world, the pavement was also the most extensive terrazzo project ever undertaken at the time, costing approximately $1 million to complete. Rand, McNally & Company supplied the topographic information, while Texaco provided the location of each of its state gas stations. The enormous map is composed of 576 individual panels, each measuring 4'x4', which span a total of 130' by 166'. Each panel weighs approximately 400 pounds, creating an entire pavement weighing in at a staggering 114 tons.
To create the colossal map, each of the three-quarter inch grid sections from a Texaco map were magnified 64 times and projected onto 4' by 4' paper templates . A group of Yale University art students then meticulously traced the enlarged roadway network, topographic symbols, letters, numbers and Texaco station logos by hand. The templates were sent to Manhattan Tile and Terrazzo Co. (now Manhattan American Strip Co.) to duplicate the topographical markers in metal strips and colored plastic insets. These components were all hand cut and then carefully arranged in plywood pattern boxes. The boxes were sent to the Port Morris Tile and Marble shop, where the terrazzo mixture of Portland cement, marble chips and crushed glass was poured. Various pigments were added exactly reproducing paper map features such as land (white, green, and tan), roads (black and red), and rivers and lakes (blue). Finally, the pavement surface was ground smooth and polished.