FORGET THE TABLE-TOP SIZE ONES, THESE ARE THE REAL STATEMENT PIECES.
The Unisphere was the centerpiece of the 1964/65 New York World’s Fair, and remains the world’s biggest globe. That’s me underneath it, to give a sense of the scale. Michael Stoll* (who took the photo), later sent me some information about other big globes. And to see how they all compare, I made the simple graphic below. Unlike the massive stainless steel Unisphere, which weighs 700,000 lbs (320,000 kilos), and never moved, they all rotate, or once did. (*Examples from his superb collection of historic infographics will be featured in future posts.)
Some additional information about the Unisphere and it’s rivals:
The three rings represent the orbits of the first satellites. The globe suffered considerable (but fictional) damage in the movie Men in Black when a downed alien spaceship crashed into it. The real Unisphere was restored in the 1990s.
At the headquarters of DeLorme, the GPS and mapping company. Installed in 1998. The largest rotating globe in the world.
Globe of Peace
A wooden framework covered with a fiberglass skin. It can hold about 600 people on three floors, and contains information about every country in the world. Shares the name of a totally unrelated (and considerably smaller) globe in Star Wars, which is a revered relic of the Naboo people.
Babson World Globe
Dedicated in 1955, but fell into disrepair by the 1980s. Restored in 1993, although it no longer rotates.
Daily News Earth Globe
The Daily News lobby was featured in the 1978 movie Superman as the lobby of the Daily Planet. The globe was installed in 1930.
This map of the 1965 New York World’s Fair site, with the Unisphere at it’s center, is on the wall of my office. It was produced by the master cartographer, Hermann Bollmann.
It was a gift from Michael Stoll and some of his students at the University of Augsburg. I love it.