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Updated July 15th, 2002 with a new New York World's Fair image (at left) and August 27th 2002 with the go-cart image (below).

Beach Haven's Connection to the 1964-65 New York World's Fair!

(At left: The Chrysler Exhibit at the New York World's Fair)

Many 1960's visitors to Beach Haven will remember Hartman's Amusement Park - located near the Taylor Avenue bay bathing area. Hartman's had a paved go-cart track where budding young race car drivers (before they could legally drive) would hone their motoring skills riding noisy, gasoline-engine mini cars around a twisty (and sometimes sandy) track. That's me (below right), a 9-year old leading the pack on a Hartman's go-cart in 1962!

The most memorable visual part of Hartman's was their towering "Mechanical Man" that stood sentinel at the corner of the racetrack. Two stories tall, and constructed of full-size auto bodies (and parts), he was painted day-glo orange. He was also a "kid magnet", a silent salesman for the park. He attracted kids as they passed in their parent's cars. Everyone wanted to get closer to "Big Chip" (as he was known when he lived in Beach Haven). Few knew that he actually had a former life, a former job, and a former name. Previously, he stood in a place where literally millions of people came to visit him, photograph him and admire his monumental measurements. Do you know where?

"Chip" no longer lives in Beach Haven, but he is certainly not forgotten. What is forgotten is where "Chip" came from and why he was built. Few people know that "Big Chip" actually started out life as "Zookeeper" at the Chrysler Pavilion in the 1964-65 New York World's Fair!

Zookeeper watched over a mechanical menagerie of auto-parts animals and beasts before he headed south on the Parkway at the Fair's end. At right, you see Zookeeper as he appeared in the rare official Chrysler Pavilion souvenir booklet. The old Beach Haven photo (left) is from the family photo album of Fred Smethers from North Arlington, NJ. Fred and his family vacationed in Beach Haven into the 1970's. That's Fred on the roof of their family station wagon (on the left), his brother Sean is up there with him. His more sensible brother, Glenn, prefers to sit inside the car! The yellow arrow points to the red Beach Haven water tower, which helped place the location for our "Now" photo (below left).

"Chip" faced away from the bay and gazed towards the boulevard and the ocean. He was probably sad as he no longer had any auto-parts animals to watch over. I wonder what happened to the rest of the zoo?

Yes, (see below left), despite all of the building and development that has gone on over the decades, today, the Mechanical Man's former sentry spot is still an empty lot behind the water park. But, if you look on the ground closely, maybe you'll still spot one of Chip's rusty bolts or catch the whiff of some transmission fluid...

"Big Chip" was immortalized on at least one rare 1960's souvenir postcard (right) where we see a young mother and her tiny tot straining their necks upwards as the mom points to Chip's differential. The Beach Haven water tower (yellow arrow) is partially obscured by mom's arm, but it does help reveal the distance away from the center of town and helped us place our "now" photo (above left).

How about you? Do you have any old family photos of "Big Chip" that you want to share? My sincere thanks to Fred Smethers for opening his family album for us and sharing his family picture - - and for jogging my memory about Hartman's Amusement Park. While I don't have any photos of "Big Chip", I do have some pictures of me, as a child, driving around the go-cart track in the 1960's!

I'd also be interested in hearing from anyone who knows more about Hartman's and how they obtained this artifact - or what eventually happened to it.

JULY 15th 2002 UPDATE: Thanks to Mike Kraus, New York World's Fair enthusiast, we can now share a new photo (top of page) showing Zookeeper as he looked while standing in New York. The photo revealed a new fact, despite the Official Brochure painting showing Zookeeper as a greyish mountain of metal, we now know that it was NOT Hartman's that painted him Day-Glo orange - he looked that way at the Fair! Many thanks to Mike, who was very kind to share this new image. For another nostalgic trip, check out his site. They even keep track of other Fair legacies (where Fair items may have been used after the Fair closed) at


You can email Bruce Clark here.

Thanks for visiting!

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Coming next: Has "The Mystery of Kathlyn Cottage" been solved?








And possibly later... "Built With A Tilt?"

In 2001, The Army Corp of Engineers discovered that Barnegat Lighthouse was leaning 22 inches off-center. While there is no current danger, there had never been a vertical alignment study done before. So, was the lighthouse built that way, or has it slowly shifted to the point where we only now know of its tilt? And could a study of old photographs compared to new help reveal any of these answers? We hope to find out!






Copyright Bruce A. Clark 1999-2012

SixOfOne AT netreach DOT net