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1955: Chicago General Motors Powerama

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Film Identifier: F.
Date Produced
circa September 1955
This film offers a tour through General Motors Powerama, an industry event that took place during the months of August and September 1955. The Powerama was created with the intention of celebrating the manufacturing of consumer, industrial, and military machinery.
General Motors Powerama, a.k.a. "The World's Fair of Power," was an industry show that opened to the public from August 31, 1955 to September 25, 1955 in Chicago (with a press preview conducted on August 30). The fair included 253 exhibitions. It was promoted in celebration of its milestone production of 100-million horsepower engines over its 22-year history. Looking towards the future, the fair also included a demonstration of a miniature solar-powered cars. Powerama was installed along Chicago's lakeside, South of the Loop—on the staging and parking corridor located between Soldiers Field and McCormick Place.

The film depicts a tour of Powerama, including the consumer, industrial, and military machines on display. Features include the displays for Road Building with Detroit Diesel-powered Equipment (including a Sawmill and a Rock Crusher); The Scraper Euclid S-12 Earth Mover (converted into a diving pool!), and a TC-12 Loader with a Bottom Dump; a turbo-charger for a GM 2-cycle diesel engine. Exhibitions from Allison Engine Company (a division of General Motors that specialized in manufacturing aircraft engines) included a full-scale model of Navy's Convair XFY-I VTO Fighter, a T40 Turbo-Prop engine, an armored amphibious Personal Carrier with a cross-drive transmission, and Guided Missiles powered by jet engines. 

There is also a demonstration of USAF's Northrop F-89 all-weather interceptor, an U.S.-Army ordnance 280mm Atomic Annie gun, and industrial demonstrations (including a Hydrostarter Demonstration, and a cross-drive transmission Tank Demonstration). Also on view is a Cadillac El Camino, a Greyhound Scenic Cruiser bus, a USS Tautog submarine, and train engines (including the lightweight Aerotrain from General Motor's Electro-Motive Division).

The last half of the film features the headlining event of Powerama: the "technological circus." This performance featured multiple dance troupes, with extensive internationally inspired costumes and innovatively choreographed performances that demonstrated the integration of hand and machine. Performers equipped with traditional hand-powered farming tools share the stage with industrial General Motors' tractors, trapeze artists performing alongside model airplanes, and horses are drawn along horse-powered engines. 
Main Credits
Soucie, James Charles (is director)
Related Place
Chicago (depicts)