A Visit to the New York Hall of Science in 1957

by Bob Giardina

My father did work for Gilbert and we visited the layout in the summer of 1957. Gilbert had just rebuilt and redecorated the second floor layout. The reason for the changes was that new accessories were being added. The gentleman who took us up, I believe his name was Chandler, explained to me about the major changes that had been made. Most of the older accessories had been removed and the current offerings installed. They had to make room for the coal loader, barrel loader, etc. that had been added in 1955-56.

I don't remember seeing any HO during this visit and that absence would be expected based on what I later learned. At that time, all distribution, parts and servicing for HO was being handled by Polk's Hobbies and buyers would not have been able to place HO orders directly with Gilbert, hence there was no need to display it at the Hall of Science.

There was also a small table by the elevator with a circle of track. A 263 engine with a rocket launcher car went around the circle and there was a crescent moon on the ceiling as a target for the rocket. I also remember a Cow-on-the-track accessory on this circle of track.

The sawmill in 1957 was placed up front and it was the second thing you saw after the small table with the rocket launcher. I also remember that I received a Sawmill and Operating Lumber Car for Christmas that year and my father rearranged the front of my layout with the Sawmill, Log Loader, Stockyard, Milk Car and Lumber Car, to be similar to the way it was on the 2nd floor layout.

The room, including the ceiling, had been painted black and mirrors had been installed on the walls. All the accessories on the layout worked and you could activate them as buttons were placed at the edge of the layout. There weren't any glass panels on the edge of the layout, like the layout on the main floor.

A cutaway 336 engine showing the motor, gears and smoke unit was mounted on an inclined track on one wall, to demonstrate Pull More Power.  The entire room and the layout had a more up to date look, for the time.