1939 New York World's Fair

1939 New York World's Fair

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The 1939–40 New York World's Fair, which covered the 1216 acres (4.9 km²) of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, often referred to as Flushing Meadow Park, Flushing Meadows Park or Flushing Meadows, is a public park in New York City. It contains the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the current venue for the U.S...

 (also the location of the 1964–1965 New York World's Fair
1964 New York World's Fair
The 1964/1965 New York World's Fair was the third major world's fair to be held in New York City. Hailing itself as a "universal and international" exposition, the fair's theme was "Peace Through Understanding," dedicated to "Man's Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe";...

) , was the second largest American world's fair
World's Fair
World's fair, World fair, Universal Exposition, and World Expo are various large public exhibitions held in different parts of the world. The first Expo was held in The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London, United Kingdom, in 1851, under the title "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All...

 of all time, exceeded only by St. Louis's Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

 Exposition of 1904. Many countries around the world participated in it, and over 44 million people attended its exhibits in two seasons. The NYWF of 1939–1940 was the first exposition to be based on the future, with an opening slogan of "Dawn of a New Day", and it allowed all visitors to take a look at "the world of tomorrow". According to the official New York World's Fair pamphlet,

"The eyes of the Fair are on the future — not in the sense of peering toward the unknown nor attempting to foretell the events of tomorrow and the shape of things to come, but in the sense of presenting a new and clearer view of today in preparation for tomorrow; a view of the forces and ideas that prevail as well as the machines.

To its visitors the Fair will say: "Here are the materials, ideas, and forces at work in our world. These are the tools with which the World of Tomorrow must be made. They are all interesting and much effort has been expended to lay them before you in an interesting way. Familiarity with today is the best preparation for the future.'"

Planning



In 1935, at the height of the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

, a group of New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 retired policemen decided to create an international exposition to lift the city and the country out of depression. Not long after, these men formed the New York World's Fair Corporation, whose office was placed on one of the higher floors in the Empire State Building
Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is a 102-story landmark skyscraper and American cultural icon in New York City at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street. It has a roof height of 1,250 feet , and with its antenna spire included, it stands a total of 1,454 ft high. Its name is derived...

. The NYWFC elected former chief of police Grover Whalen
Grover Whalen
Grover Aloysius Whalen was a prominent politician, businessman, and public relations guru in New York City during the 1930s and 1940s.-Early years:Grover A. Whalen was born on June 2, 1886 in New York City...

 as the president of their committee. The whole committee consisted of Winthrop Aldrich, Mortimer Buckner, Floyd Carlisle, Ashley T. Cole
Ashley T. Cole
Ashley Trimble Cole was a lawyer in New York City who was active in both city and state politics. A graduate of Columbia University and the New York Law School, he began practicing law in 1900 and was appointed legal counsel for the Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation in 1916...

, John J. Dunnigan
John J. Dunnigan
John J. Dunnigan was an American architect, builder and politician from New York. He was President pro tempore of the New York State Senate from 1933 to 1938.-Life:...

, Harvey Dow Gibson
Harvey Dow Gibson
-Family and Early Life :Harvey Dow Gibson was born on March 12, 1882 at North Conway, New Hampshire, the son of James Lewis Gibson and Addie Dow. His father was telegraph operator for the Portland & Ogdensburg Railroad...

, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, Percy S. Straus, and many other business leaders.

Over the next four years, the committee planned, built, and organized the fair and its exhibits, with countries around the world taking part in creating the biggest international event since World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. Working closely with the Fair's committee was Robert Moses
Robert Moses
Robert Moses was the "master builder" of mid-20th century New York City, Long Island, Rockland County, and Westchester County, New York. As the shaper of a modern city, he is sometimes compared to Baron Haussmann of Second Empire Paris, and is one of the most polarizing figures in the history of...

, New York City Parks Commissioner, who saw great value to the City in having the World's Fair Corporation (at its expense) remove a vast ash dump in Queens that was to be the site for the exposition, and turn the area into a City park after the exposition closed.

Edward Bernays
Edward Bernays
Edward Louis Bernays , was an Austrian-American pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda along with Ivy Lee, referred to in his obituary as "the father of public relations"...

 directed public relations of the fair in 1939, which he called 'democricity'. Grover Whalen, a public relations innovator, saw the Fair as an opportunity for corporations to present consumer product
Consumer product
A consumer product is generally any tangible personal property for sale and that is used for personal, family, or household for non-business purposes. The determination whether a good is a consumer product requires a factual finding, on a case-by-case basis...

s, rather than as an exercise in presenting science and the scientific way of thinking in its own right, as Harold Urey
Harold Urey
Harold Clayton Urey was an American physical chemist whose pioneering work on isotopes earned him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1934...

, Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 and other scientists wished to see the project. "As events transpired," reported Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

, whose own interest in science was nevertheless sparked by the Fair's gadgetry, "almost no real science was tacked on to the Fair's exhibits, despite the scientists' protests and their appeals to high principles."

Promotion of this great event took many forms. In 1938, the Brooklyn Dodgers
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers are a professional baseball team based in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers are members of Major League Baseball's National League West Division. Established in 1883, the team originated in Brooklyn, New York, where it was known by a number of nicknames before becoming...

, New York Giants
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants are a Major League Baseball team based in San Francisco, California, playing in the National League West Division....

, and New York Yankees
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are a professional baseball team based in the The Bronx, New York. They compete in Major League Baseball in the American League's East Division...

 baseball teams did their part to promote the upcoming fair by wearing patches on their jerseys featuring the Trylon, Perisphere
Perisphere
The Trylon and Perisphere were two modernistic structures, together known as the "Theme Center," at the center of the New York World's Fair of 1939-1940. Connected to the spire-shaped Trylon by what was at the time the world's longest escalator, the Perisphere was a tremendous sphere, 180 feet in...

, and "1939" on their left sleeve. Howard Hughes
Howard Hughes
Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. was an American business magnate, investor, aviator, engineer, film producer, director, and philanthropist. He was one of the wealthiest people in the world...

 flew a special World's Fair flight around the world to promote the fair in 1938.

While the main purpose of the fair was to lift the spirits of the United States and drive much-needed business to New York City, it was also felt that there should be a cultural or historical association. It was therefore decided that the fair opening would correspond to the 150th anniversary of George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

's first inauguration as President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

.

Grand opening


On April 30, 1939, a very hot Sunday, the fair had its grand opening, with 206,000 people in attendance. The April 30 date coincided with the 150th anniversary of George Washington's inauguration as President in New York City. Although many of the pavilions and other facilities were not quite ready for this opening, it was put on with pomp and great celebration. President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the opening day address, and as a reflection of the wide range of technological innovation on parade at the fair, his speech was not only broadcast over the various radio networks but also was televised. NBC used the event to inaugurate regularly scheduled television broadcasts in New York City over their station W2XBS (now WNBC). An estimated 1,000 people viewed the Roosevelt telecast from about 200 television sets scattered throughout the New York area. In addition to Roosevelt's speech, Albert Einstein gave a speech which discussed cosmic rays. This was followed by the ceremonial lighting of the fair's lights. Dignitaries received a special Opening Day Program which contained their names written in Braille.

Exhibits




One of the first exhibits to receive attention was the Westinghouse Time Capsule
Westinghouse Time Capsules
The Westinghouse Time Capsules are two time capsules prepared by the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company: "Time Capsule I", created for the 1939 New York World's Fair; and "Time Capsule II", created for the 1964 New York World's Fair. Both are buried 50 feet below Flushing Meadows Park,...

, which was not to be opened for 5,000 years, not until 6939 AD. The time capsule
Time capsule
A time capsule is an historic cache of goods or information, usually intended as a method of communication with future people and to help future archaeologists, anthropologists, or historians...

 was a tube containing writings by Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 and Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and 1929 Nobel Prize laureate, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas, noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual...

, copies of Life Magazine, a Mickey Mouse watch, a Gillette Safety Razor, a kewpie doll
Kewpie doll (toy)
Kewpie dolls and figurines are based on comical strip-like illustrations by Rose O'Neill that appeared in Ladies' Home Journal in 1909. The small dolls were extremely popular in the early 1900s. They were first produced in Ohrdruf, a small town in Germany, then famous for its toy-manufacturers....

, a dollar
Dollar
The dollar is the name of the official currency of many countries, including Australia, Belize, Canada, Ecuador, El Salvador, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United States.-Etymology:...

 in change, a pack of Camel cigarettes, millions of pages of text on microfilm, and much more. The capsule also contained seeds of foods in common use at the time: (wheat, corn, oats, tobacco, cotton, flax, rice, soy beans, alfalfa, sugar beets, carrots and barley, all sealed in glass tubes). The time capsule is located at 40°44′34.089"N 73°50′43.842"W, at a depth of 50 feet (15.2 m). A small stone plaque marks the position.

Other exhibits included Vermeer's painting The Milkmaid
The Milkmaid (Vermeer)
The Milkmaid , sometimes called The Kitchen Maid, is an oil-on-canvas painting of a "milkmaid", in fact a domestic kitchen maid, by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer...

from the Rijksmuseum
Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam or simply Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum in Amsterdam, located on the Museumplein. The museum is dedicated to arts, crafts, and history. It has a large collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age and a substantial collection of Asian art...

 in Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

, a streamlined pencil sharpener
Pencil sharpener
A pencil sharpener is a device for sharpening a pencil's writing point by shaving away its worn surface. Pencil sharpeners may be operated manually or by an electric motor.-History:...

, a diner
Diner
A diner, also spelled dinor in western Pennsylvania is a prefabricated restaurant building characteristic of North America, especially in the Midwest, in New York City, in Pennsylvania and in New Jersey, and in other areas of the Northeastern United States, although examples can be found throughout...

 (still in operation as the White Mana in Jersey City, New Jersey
Jersey City, New Jersey
Jersey City is the seat of Hudson County, New Jersey, United States.Part of the New York metropolitan area, Jersey City lies between the Hudson River and Upper New York Bay across from Lower Manhattan and the Hackensack River and Newark Bay...

), a futuristic car based city by GM
Futurama (New York World's Fair)
Futurama was an exhibit/ride at the 1939 New York World's Fair designed by Norman Bel Geddes that tried to show the world 20 years into the future . Sponsored by the General Motors Corporation, the installation was characterised by its automated highways and vast suburbs...

 and early television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

s. There was also a huge globe
Globe
A globe is a three-dimensional scale model of Earth or other spheroid celestial body such as a planet, star, or moon...

/planetarium
Planetarium
A planetarium is a theatre built primarily for presenting educational and entertaining shows about astronomy and the night sky, or for training in celestial navigation...

 located near the center of the fair. Bell Labs
Bell Labs
Bell Laboratories is the research and development subsidiary of the French-owned Alcatel-Lucent and previously of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company , half-owned through its Western Electric manufacturing subsidiary.Bell Laboratories operates its...

' Voder
Vocoder
A vocoder is an analysis/synthesis system, mostly used for speech. In the encoder, the input is passed through a multiband filter, each band is passed through an envelope follower, and the control signals from the envelope followers are communicated to the decoder...

, a keyboard-operated speech synthesizer, was demonstrated at the Fair.


The copy of Magna Carta
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

 belonging to Lincoln Cathedral
Lincoln Cathedral
Lincoln Cathedral is a historic Anglican cathedral in Lincoln in England and seat of the Bishop of Lincoln in the Church of England. It was reputedly the tallest building in the world for 249 years . The central spire collapsed in 1549 and was not rebuilt...

 also left Britain in 1939 for the first time to be in the British Pavilion at the fair. Within months Britain joined World War II and it was deemed safer for it to remain in America until the end of hostilities. It therefore remained in Fort Knox
Fort Knox
Fort Knox is a United States Army post in Kentucky south of Louisville and north of Elizabethtown. The base covers parts of Bullitt, Hardin, and Meade counties. It currently holds the Army Human Resources Center of Excellence to include the Army Human Resources Command, United States Army Cadet...

, next to the original copy of the American constitution, until 1947.

Other firsts at the Fair included color photography
Color photography
Color photography is photography that uses media capable of representing colors, which are traditionally produced chemically during the photographic processing phase...

, nylon
Nylon
Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers known generically as polyamides, first produced on February 28, 1935, by Wallace Carothers at DuPont's research facility at the DuPont Experimental Station...

, air conditioning
Air conditioning
An air conditioner is a home appliance, system, or mechanism designed to dehumidify and extract heat from an area. The cooling is done using a simple refrigeration cycle...

, the View-Master
View-Master
View-Master is a device for viewing seven 3-D images on a paper disk. Although the View-Master is now considered a children's toy, it was originally marketed as a way for viewers to enjoy stereograms of colorful and picturesque tourist attractions.-1939–66: stereoscopic sightseeing:In 1911,...

, and Smell-O-Vision
Smell-o-vision
Smell-O-Vision was a system that released odor during the projection of a film so that the viewer could "smell" what was happening in the movie. The technique was created by Hans Laube and made its only appearance in the 1960 film Scent of Mystery, produced by Mike Todd, Jr., son of film producer...

.

The fair was also the occasion for the 1st World Science Fiction Convention
1st World Science Fiction Convention
The First World Science Fiction Convention was held in the Caravan Hall in New York from July 2 to July 4, 1939, in conjunction with the New York World's Fair, which was themed as "The World of Tomorrow"...

, subsequently dubbed Nycon 1.


Exhibition in the USSR Pavilion included the life-size copy of the interior of Mayakovskaya station of the Moscow Metro
Moscow Metro
The Moscow Metro is a rapid transit system serving Moscow and the neighbouring town of Krasnogorsk. Opened in 1935 with one line and 13 stations, it was the first underground railway system in the Soviet Union. As of 2011, the Moscow Metro has 182 stations and its route length is . The system is...

. Designer of the station, Alexey Dushkin
Alexey Dushkin
Alexey Nikolayevich Dushkin was a Soviet architect, best known for his 1930s designs of Kropotkinskaya and Mayakovskaya stations of Moscow Metro...

, was awarded Grand Prize of the 1939 New York World's Fair.

On July 4, 1940 the fair hosted "Superman Day." Notable was the crowning of the "superboy and supergirl" of the day, and a public appearance by Superman
Superman
Superman is a fictional comic book superhero appearing in publications by DC Comics, widely considered to be an American cultural icon. Created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born American artist Joe Shuster in 1932 while both were living in Cleveland, Ohio, and sold to Detective...

, played by actor Ray Middleton
Ray Middleton
Raymond Earl Middleton, Jr. , known and billed as Ray Middleton, was an American character actor.Born in Chicago, Illinois, Middleton was the first actor to play Superman in public, which he did on July 3, 1940, during the 1939 New York World's Fair's "Superman Day"...

, the first time any had played the role.

The Jewish Palestine Pavilion introduced the world to the concept of a modern Jewish state, which a decade later would become Israel. The pavilion featured on its façade a monumental hammered copper relief sculpture entitled The Scholar, The Laborer, and the Toiler of the Soil by the noted Art Deco sculptor Maurice Ascalon
Maurice Ascalon
Maurice Ascalon , a designer and sculptor, is, by some accounts, considered the father of the modern Israeli decorative arts movement.- Biography :Maurice Ascalon was born as Moshe Klein in eastern Hungary...

.


Although the United States would not enter the Second World War until the end of 1941, the fairgrounds served as a window into the troubles overseas. The pavilions of Poland and Czechoslovakia, for example, did not reopen for the 1940 season. Also on 4 July that same year, two New York City Police Department
New York City Police Department
The New York City Police Department , established in 1845, is currently the largest municipal police force in the United States, with primary responsibilities in law enforcement and investigation within the five boroughs of New York City...

 officers were killed by a blast while investigating a time bomb left at the British Pavilion.

Frank Buck
Frank Buck (animal collector)
Frank Howard Buck was a hunter and "collector of wild animals," as well as a movie actor, director, writer and producer...

 exhibited his “Frank Buck’s Jungleland,” which displayed rare birds, reptiles and wild animals along with Jiggs, a five-year-old trained orangutan. In addition, Buck provided a trio of performing elephants, an 80 feet (24.4 m) “monkey mountain” with 600 monkeys, and an attraction that had been popular at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair: camel rides.

Ralph Vaughan Williams
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Ralph Vaughan Williams OM was an English composer of symphonies, chamber music, opera, choral music, and film scores. He was also a collector of English folk music and song: this activity both influenced his editorial approach to the English Hymnal, beginning in 1904, in which he included many...

 composed his work for harp and string orchestra Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus on commission from the World's Fair. The first performance was at Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park....

 in June 1939, conducted by Sir Adrian Boult
Adrian Boult
Sir Adrian Cedric Boult CH was an English conductor. Brought up in a prosperous mercantile family he followed musical studies in England and at Leipzig, Germany, with early conducting work in London for the Royal Opera House and Sergei Diaghilev's ballet company. His first prominent post was...

.

Themes and zones


The Fair was themed. It was divided into different "zones" (the Transportation Zone, the Communications and Business Systems Zone, the Food Zone, the Government Zone, and so forth). Virtually every structure
Structure
Structure is a fundamental, tangible or intangible notion referring to the recognition, observation, nature, and permanence of patterns and relationships of entities. This notion may itself be an object, such as a built structure, or an attribute, such as the structure of society...

 erected on the fairgrounds was extraordinary (in a literal sense: "out of the ordinary"), and many of them were experimental in many ways. Architects were encouraged by their corporate or government sponsors to be creative, energetic, and innovative. Novel building designs, materials, and furnishings were the norm.

Many of the zones were arranged in a semi-circular pattern centered on the "Theme Center". The zones were distinguished by many color cues, including different wall colors and tints and differently colored lighting
Lighting
Lighting or illumination is the deliberate application of light to achieve some practical or aesthetic effect. Lighting includes the use of both artificial light sources such as lamps and light fixtures, as well as natural illumination by capturing daylight...

.

The "Theme Center" consisted of two all-white, landmark monumental buildings named the Trylon (over 700 feet (213.4 m) tall) and the Perisphere which one entered by moving stairway and exited via a grand curved walkway named the Helicline. Inside the Perisphere was a model city of tomorrow that visitors viewed from a moving walkway high above the floor level. The Theme Center was designed by the architect Wallace Harrison
Wallace Harrison
Wallace Kirkman Harrison , was an American architect.-Career:Harrison started his professional career with the firm of Corbett, Harrison & MacMurray, participating in the construction of Rockefeller Center...

 and his associate Max Abramovitz
Max Abramovitz
Max Abramovitz was an architect best known for his work with the New York City firm Harrison & Abramovitz.- Life :...

.

The colors blue
Blue
Blue is a colour, the perception of which is evoked by light having a spectrum dominated by energy with a wavelength of roughly 440–490 nm. It is considered one of the additive primary colours. On the HSV Colour Wheel, the complement of blue is yellow; that is, a colour corresponding to an equal...

 and orange were chosen as the official colors of the fair, as they were the colors of New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, and featured prominently. Only the Trylon and Perisphere were all white; avenues stretching out into the zones from the Theme Center were designed with rich colors that changed the further one walked from the center of the grounds. For example, the exhibits and other facilities along the Avenue of Pioneers were in a progression of blues, starting with pale tints and ending in deep ultramarine
Ultramarine
Ultramarine is a blue pigment consisting primarily of a double silicate of aluminium and sodium with some sulfides or sulfates, and occurring in nature as a proximate component of lapis lazuli...

. At night, with the latest in lighting technology switched on, the effect was felt by many visitors to be a "magical" experience. (Outdoor public lighting was at the time of a very limited and pedestrian nature, perhaps consisting of simple incandescent pole lamps in a city and nothing in the country. Electrification was still very new and had not reached everywhere in the US. The Fair was the first public demonstration of several lighting technologies that would become common in future decades.)

These technologies included the introduction of the first fluorescent light and fixture. General Electric
General Electric
General Electric Company , or GE, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation incorporated in Schenectady, New York and headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States...

 Corporation held the patent to the fluorescent light bulb at the time and approximately a year later, the original three major corporations, Lightolier
Lightolier
Lightolier is a company that manufactures and sells a wide array of lighting fixtures. It was founded in 1904 by Bernhard Blitzer under the name of New York Gas and Appliance Co. When electric lighting started to be more widely accepted, the name was changed to Lightolier, a contraction of the...

, Artcraft Fluorescent Lighting Corporation
Artcraft Fluorescent Lighting Corporation
Artcraft Fluorescent Lighting Corporation was one of the three most influential business forces in fluorescent lighting fixture development and production in the United States from the commercial introduction of the fluorescent lamp at the 1939 World's Fair....

, and Globe Lighting located mostly in the New York City region, began wide-scale manufacturing in the United States of the fluorescent light fixture, making fluorescent lighting possible and commonplace in most industrial, office, retail, and residential settings around the nation and the world in years to come.

Another theme of the fair was the middle class. The fair focused on the emerging new middle class represented by the Middleton Family --- Bud, Babs and their two children appeared in ads showing them taking in the sights of the fair and the new products being manufactured to make life easier and affordable, such as the new automatic dishwasher and Elecktro
Elektro
Elektro is the nickname of a robot built by the Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric Corporation in its Mansfield, Ohio facility between 1937 and 1938. Seven feet tall, weighing 265 pounds, humanoid in appearance, he could walk by voice command, speak about 700 words , smoke cigarettes, blow up...

, a 7 feet (2.1 m) walking, talking robot.

Each day at the fair was a theme day. For example, May 18, 1939 was "Asbury Park, New Jersey
Asbury Park, New Jersey
Asbury Park is a city in Monmouth County, New Jersey, United States, located on the Jersey Shore and part of the New York City Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city population was 16,116. The city is known for its rich musical history, including its association with...

 Day". For each special day, a special button was issued. Some of these buttons are very rare today and all are very collectible.

In 1940, the theme of the fair changed to "For Peace and Freedom" as the War in Europe escalated. One poster from that year's fair, issued by Borden's Milk had Elsie the Cow proclaiming "makes you proud to be an American".

Transportation Zone



With its vast area and prominent location just south of the Theme Center, the Transportation Zone pavilions attracted widespread attention. Perhaps the most popular of the Transportation Zone pavilions was the one built for General Motors. There the 36,000 square foot (3,300 m²) Futurama
Futurama (New York World's Fair)
Futurama was an exhibit/ride at the 1939 New York World's Fair designed by Norman Bel Geddes that tried to show the world 20 years into the future . Sponsored by the General Motors Corporation, the installation was characterised by its automated highways and vast suburbs...

 exhibit, designed by famed industrial designer and theater set designer Norman Bel Geddes
Norman Bel Geddes
Norman Melancton Bel Geddes was an American theatrical and industrial designer who focused on aerodynamics....

, transported fair visitors over a huge diorama of a section of the United States that was designed with a stunning array of miniature highways, towns, 500,000 individually designed homes, 50,000 miniature vehicles, waterways, and a million miniature trees of diverse species. These elements of the diorama gradually became larger as the visitors (who were seated in moving chairs overhead) moved through the exhibit, until the cars and other elements of the exhibit became life-size.
At the conclusion of the ride the visitors to the pavilion exited into an area that was constructed as a life-size city intersection with multi-story buildings and stores on all sides. The stores included an auto dealership and an appliance store where visitors could see the latest GM
General Motors
General Motors Company , commonly known as GM, formerly incorporated as General Motors Corporation, is an American multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the world's second-largest automaker in 2010...

 and Frigidaire
Frigidaire
Frigidaire is a brand of consumer and commercial appliances. Frigidaire was founded as the Guardian Frigerator Company in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and developed the first self-contained refrigerator in 1916. In 1918, William C...

 products. As with almost all pavilions in the fair, these showcases were not only intended to get people to buy the sponsor's products, they were also intended to educate and inform the populace about basic materials and processes that were then very new and not well known. Many experimental product concepts and new materials were shown that were not currently available for purchase, but would become available in various ways over the next few years. In many ways the fair pavilions more resembled a modern-day government-sponsored science fair exhibit or a Discovery Channel program than they would resemble modern corporate advertising and sales promotions.

Adjacent to the GM pavilion was the Ford Pavilion, where race car drivers drove on a figure eight track on the building's roof endlessly, day in and day out. Not far from GM and Ford was the Chrysler
Chrysler
Chrysler Group LLC is a multinational automaker headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA. Chrysler was first organized as the Chrysler Corporation in 1925....

 exhibit group, where an audience in a theater with air conditioning
Air conditioning
An air conditioner is a home appliance, system, or mechanism designed to dehumidify and extract heat from an area. The cooling is done using a simple refrigeration cycle...

, then a new technology, could watch a Plymouth being assembled right before their very eyes. (GM had used this same premise at the Century of Progress
Century of Progress
A Century of Progress International Exposition was the name of a World's Fair held in Chicago from 1933 to 1934 to celebrate the city's centennial. The theme of the fair was technological innovation...

 exhibition in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 a few years earlier. A visitor could go to the fair and buy his new GM in the morning, watch it being assembled, and drive it home that night.)

Railroads were a major form of transportation for both passengers and freight in 1939, as airlines are for passengers today in the United States. Many visitors to the fair would have arrived in New York by railroad, and most visitors had at least a moderate interest in the area. The centerpiece of the Railroad Conference exhibits (on seventeen acres) was "Railroads on Parade," a spectacular live drama re-enacting the birth and growth of railroads. In addition to the show, there were important historical objects on display by the various railroads and manufacturing companies, such as the Tom Thumb
Tom Thumb (locomotive)
Tom Thumb was the first American-built steam locomotive used on a common-carrier railroad. Designed and built by Peter Cooper in 1830, it was designed to convince owners of the newly formed Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to use steam engines...

 engine. The Pennsylvania Railroad
Pennsylvania Railroad
The Pennsylvania Railroad was an American Class I railroad, founded in 1846. Commonly referred to as the "Pennsy", the PRR was headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania....

 (PRR) had their S1
PRR S1
The PRR S1 class steam locomotive was an experimental locomotive that was the largest rigid frame passenger locomotive ever built. The streamlined Art Deco styled shell of the locomotive was designed by Raymond Loewy....

 engine on display. This engine was mounted on rollers under the driver wheels, and ran continuously at 60 mi/h all day long. The British London Midland & Scottish Railway sent their Coronation Scot
Coronation Scot
The Coronation Scot was a named express passenger train of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway inaugurated in 1937 for the Coronation of King George VI which ran until the start of the war in 1939...

 express train with a locomotive LMS Princess Coronation Class 6229 Duchess of Hamilton
LMS Princess Coronation Class 6229 Duchess of Hamilton
London Midland and Scottish Railway Princess Coronation Class 6229 Duchess of Hamilton is a preserved steam locomotive.- Service :...

, (disguised as sister locomotive 6220 Coronation
LMS Princess Coronation Class 6220 Coronation
London Midland and Scottish Railway Princess Coronation Class No. 6220 Coronation was a British steam locomotive.- Overview :6220 was built in 1937 at Crewe Works, the first of its class of streamlined locomotives...

), to the fair. GMs Electro-Motive Division had a Display of their then new streamlined Diesel-Electric passenger locomotives.

A visitor walking to the left of the Theme Center on the Avenue of Patriots would visit the Communications and Business Systems focal exhibits. At the AT&T Pavilion the Voder, a mechanized, synthetic voice, spoke to fairgoers, foretelling the widespread use of electronic voices decades later. (The Voder itself would be used in part of one of the most secret voice communications systems of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 between Washington and London only a year or two after at it appeared at the fair.)

At the IBM pavilion, electric typewriters, and a fantastic machine called the electric calculator that used punched cards, were on display. IBM also had a fine art gallery with hundreds of artworks from 70 countries around the world. The exhibit for Firestone Tires featured the famous pygmy hippo, Billy
Billy (pygmy hippo)
Billy, or William Johnson Hippopotamus, was a Pygmy Hippopotamus given as a pet to U.S. President Calvin Coolidge. Captured in Liberia, he was given to Coolidge by Harvey Firestone in 1927. Billy spent most of his life in the Smithsonian National Zoological Park...

, who had been a pet of U.S. President Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States . A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state...

.

Next door to these business exhibits was the "Masterpieces of Art" building housing 300 priceless works of the Old Masters, from the Middle Ages to 1800. This was no sideshow; thirty five galleries featured great works from DaVinci and Michelangelo to Rembrandt, from Hals to Caravaggio and Bellini. Whalen and his team were able to borrow priceless paintings and sculptures from Europe and hang them in a graceful, understated building in Queens for two years.

Food Zone


Continuing outward from the Theme Center one saw the Food Zone. Among the many unique exhibits was the Borden's exhibit, that featured 150 pedigreed cows (including the original Elsie
Elsie the Cow
Elsie the Cow has been the spokescow for the Borden Dairy Company since her introduction in 1936.Elsie was created in the 1930s to symbolize the “Perfect Dairy Product,” and made an appearance at the New York World's Fair in 1939. She also starred in a movie, RKO's Little Men, in 1940...

) on a "Rotolactor" that allowed bathing them, drying them, and milking them in a highly mechanized way. While no such complete system has ever become common in milk production, many of its features are in everyday use in today's rotary milking parlors.

Next door was the Continental Baking exhibit, presenting a vast, continuous process of baking breads and other products. Consistent with the representative design sense of the Fair, this building was fashioned in the shape of a huge packaged bread loaf, white with red, yellow, and blue balloons on its curved facade. People today will recognize this as the packaging for Wonder Bread
Wonder Bread
Wonder Bread is the name of three North American brands of white bread: One produced by George Weston Bakeries in Canada, another by Hostess Brands in the United States, and the third by Grupo Bimbo in Mexico.- United States :...

. Behind the exhibit was a bona fide wheat field from which wheat was harvested and used in the baking process. There was a sign in the field that noted that this was the first time in over 100 years that wheat had been grown within the incorporated bounds of New York City.

The sixty foreign governments that participated in this fair contributed a wide diversity of creatively designed pavilions housing a stunning array of cultural offerings to fairgoers. The Italian pavilion attempted to fuse ancient Roman splendor with modern styles, and a 200 feet (61 m) high water fall defined the pavilion's facade. Its popular restaurant was designed in the shape of the nation's luxury cruise line ships. The French pavilion, on the Court of Peace that was the grand open space northeast of the Theme Center, ran such a celebrated restaurant that after the fair closed and World War II ended, the restaurant remained in New York City – and soon established itself (as Le Pavilion) as one of the finest French dining establishments in the city.


Beyond the corporate and government zones, the wildly popular but less uplifting Amusements Area was not integrated into the thematic matrix, and was a mere Area rather than a Zone. Despite the high-minded educational tone that Grover Whalen attempted to set, the "Amusements Area" was the most popular part of the Fair and included roller coaster, the Life Savers
Life Savers
Life Savers is an American brand of ring-shaped mints and artificially fruit-flavored hard candy. The candy is known for its distinctive packaging, coming in aluminum foil rolls....

 parachute jump
Parachute Jump
The Parachute Jump is a defunct amusement ride in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York, whose iconic open-frame steel structure remains a Brooklyn landmark. tall and weighing 170 tons , it has been called the "Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn"...

 (which was later moved to Coney Island
Coney Island
Coney Island is a peninsula and beach on the Atlantic Ocean in southern Brooklyn, New York, United States. The site was formerly an outer barrier island, but became partially connected to the mainland by landfill....

 where it still stands), and carnival acts such as a collection of performing midgets. A number of the shows provided spectators with the opportunity of viewing women in very revealing costumes (for all intents and purposes topless) for instance the Frozen Alive Girl, the Dream of Venus Building, and the Living Pictures. While there were a number of protests by prominent politicians over the course of the fair about the "low minded entertainment", and the New York Vice Squad raided shows in the area on several occasions, the public generally accepted this form of entertainment. The Billy Rose Aquacade, was a spectacular musical and water extravaganza, foreshadowing the form of many popular Hollywood musicals in the ensuing years. The Aquacade facility itself served as an entertainment venue in the park for many years and was finally demolished in 1996.

Lama Temple girlie show


The Bendix Lama Temple was a replica of the 1771 Potala in Jehol, Manchuria brought back by the explorer Vincent Bendix.

The Temple contained a girlie show. The 19-year-old barker Herbert I. Taffae delivered the following spiel at the 1939/1940 World’s Fair and repeated for recording in 2007. Mr. Taffae went on to serve in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1942–1945.


It might sound strange and a trifle incongruous having lovely girls in front of the million dollar temple of Jehol whose gold leaf roof you can see over the top of this façade, but the fact is that we have a girlie show in here and a good one.

The author of the book, Forbidden Tibet, Horizon Hunters and technical advisor of the picture, Lost Horizon, he doesn’t want his good name associated with this scandalous enterprise as brought back from the land of the lost horizon, those Terpsichordion aphrodisiacs, the love temptation dancers from the lamaseries of Tibet. A lama is a Buddhist priest and as such he must remain celibate. He must be deaf to the calls of the flesh, immune to the pangs of passion, and adverse to the charms of beautiful women. In other words he must not marry or anything.

Once each year he is given a test. The questions of which are the unquestionable figures of questionable young ladies, courtesans brought from the outside world to corrupt the young lama and seduce him from his holy way of life.

Now ladies, this show has been approved by Good Housekeeping, but in case a stray moron seeking a racy spicy girl show is in this otherwise obviously intellectual audience, he too can go in there and not know the difference, but you, you lovers of art will surely recognize this show to be the apogee of oriental choreography.

The whole thing rises to a climax when Sasha and her hilarious horde of vivacious vestal virgins unite in that unclad climax, that orgiastic ecstasy at the tail end of our performance, the passion dance of love. It’s terrific. Now once inside sit down as long as you like and admire the bare beautiful temple but those beautiful bare forms and they I say are not too formal. Go on right away. This being the first show of the afternoon I am going to cut the price of admission in half.

Everybody goes.

Oral interview with Herbert Taffaee, October 2007, Albuquerque, NM

Aquacade
Billy Rose's Aquacade
Billy Rose's Aquacade was a music, dance and swimming show produced by Billy Rose at the Great Lakes Exposition in 1937.Later Aquacade moved to the 1939 New York World's Fair where it was the most successful production of the fair . The Art Deco 11,000 seat amphitheatre was designed by architects...

 


The Aquacade was put on in a special amphitheater seating 10,000 people and included an orchestra to accompany the synchronized spectacular swim show. It featured Johnny Weismuller and Eleanor Holm
Eleanor Holm
Eleanor G. Holm was an American swimmer. An Olympic champion, she is best known for having been suspended from the 1936 Summer Olympics team, after she had attended a cocktail party on the transatlantic cruise ship taking her to Germany...

, two of the most celebrated swimmers of the era, and dazzled fairgoers with its lighting and cascades and curtains of water, pumped in waterfalls at 8,000 gallons a minute. The cost of admission: eighty cents.

Transportation


A special subway
New York City Subway
The New York City Subway is a rapid transit system owned by the City of New York and leased to the New York City Transit Authority, a subsidiary agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and also known as MTA New York City Transit...

 line, the IND World's Fair Railroad, was built to serve the fair. World's Fair (now Mets – Willets Point) station on the IRT Flushing Line
IRT Flushing Line
The Flushing Line is a rapid transit route of the New York City Subway system, operated as part of the IRT Division and designated the 7 route...

 was rebuilt to handle fair traffic on the IRT
Interborough Rapid Transit Company
The Interborough Rapid Transit Company was the private operator of the original underground New York City Subway line that opened in 1904, as well as earlier elevated railways and additional rapid transit lines in New York City. The IRT was purchased by the City in June 1940...

 and BMT. A Long Island Rail Road
Long Island Rail Road
The Long Island Rail Road or LIRR is a commuter rail system serving the length of Long Island, New York. It is the busiest commuter railroad in North America, serving about 81.5 million passengers each year. Established in 1834 and having operated continuously since then, it is the oldest US...

 station (now Mets – Willets Point) was built next to the Flushing Line station.
The IND line extension departed the IND Queens Boulevard Line
IND Queens Boulevard Line
The Queens Boulevard Line is a fully underground line of the B Division of the New York City Subway in Manhattan and Queens, New York City, United States. The line provides crosstown service across Manhattan under 53rd Street and east through Queens to Jamaica...

 east of the Forest Hills – 71st Avenue station and before the 75th Avenue
75th Avenue (IND Queens Boulevard Line)
75th Avenue is a local station on the IND Queens Boulevard Line of the New York City Subway in Forest Hills, Queens...

 station. The World's Fair station was at the east side of the Meadowlands at Horace Harding Boulevard. The period system route map and Fair maps display this temporary extension. The World's Fair station was an alternate terminus of the E train, and ran at ground level, separated from the Fair grounds by a fence, past the Jamaica Yard (which is still in use).

Closure


The fair was open for two seasons, from April to October each year, and was officially closed forever on October 27, 1940. To get the Fair's budget overruns under control before the 1940 season and augment gate revenues, the fair management in the second year replaced Whalen with a banker, Harvey Gibson, and placed much greater emphasis on the amusement features, and less on the educational and uplifting exhibits. The great fair attracted over 45 million visitors and generated roughly $48 million in revenue. Since the Fair Corporation had invested 67 million dollars (in addition to nearly a hundred million dollars from other sources), it was a financial failure, and the corporation declared bankruptcy.

Countries under the thumb of the Axis powers in Europe, e.g., Poland, Czechoslovakia, and France, ran their pavilions in 1940 with a special nationalistic pride. The only major world power that did not participate for the 1939 season was Germany, citing budget pressures; the Soviet Pavilion was dismantled after the first season, leaving an empty lot called "The American Commons". When the fair closed, many among the European staff were unable to return to their home countries, so they remained in America and in some cases exercised a tremendous influence on American culture. For example, Henri Soulé moved from the French Pavilion at the fair to open Le Pavillon, taking Pierre Franey
Pierre Franey
Pierre Franey was a French chef, best known for his televised cooking shows and his "60 Minute Gourmet" column in The New York Times.Franey grew up in northern Burgundy, France...

 along as head chef.

World War II presented additional problems with what to do with the exhibits on display in the pavilions of countries under Axis occupation. In the case of the Polish Pavilion, most of the items were sold by the Polish Government in exile
Polish government in Exile
The Polish government-in-exile, formally known as the Government of the Republic of Poland in Exile , was the government in exile of Poland formed in the aftermath of the Invasion of Poland of September 1939, and the subsequent occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which...

 in London to the Polish Museum of America
Polish Museum of America
The Polish Museum of America is located in West Town, in what had been the historical Polish Downtown neighborhood of Chicago. It is home to a plethora of Polish artifacts, artwork, and embroidered folk costumes among its growing collection...

 and shipped to Chicago. A notable exception was made for a monument of the Polish-Lithuanian King Jagiełło
King Jagiello Monument
The King Jagiello Monument is an equestrian monument of king of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Władysław II Jagiełło, located in Central Park, New York City. Raised on its grand plinth it is one of the most prominently-sited and impressive of twenty-nine sculptures located in Central Park...

 to which Mayor Fiorello La Guardia took such a liking that he helped spearhead a campaign to have it installed in Central Park
Central Park
Central Park is a public park in the center of Manhattan in New York City, United States. The park initially opened in 1857, on of city-owned land. In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won a design competition to improve and expand the park with a plan they entitled the Greensward Plan...

, where it still stands to this day.

Another building which was saved was the Belgian Building. It was awarded to Virginia Union University in Richmond, Va., in 1940 and shipped to Richmond in 1941. The school still uses the building for its home basketball games.

Influence on later literature and popular culture


The 1939 World's Fair made a strong impression on attendees and influenced a generation of Americans. In the film, Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941 film)
Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a 1941 screwball comedy film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, written by Norman Krasna, and starring Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery...

(1941) a comedy directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock
Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, KBE was a British film director and producer. He pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres. After a successful career in British cinema in both silent films and early talkies, Hitchcock moved to Hollywood...

, Carole Lombard
Carole Lombard
Carole Lombard was an American actress. She was particularly noted for her comedic roles in the screwball comedies of the 1930s...

 and Gene Raymond
Gene Raymond
Gene Raymond was an American film, television, and stage actor of the 1930s and 1940s. In addition to acting, Raymond was also a composer, writer, director, producer, and decorated military pilot.-Stage and movie career:...

 visit the fair after a dinner date and find themselves stuck high in the air on the fair's popular parachute ride when it malfunctions. In the Charlie Chan
Charlie Chan
Charlie Chan is a fictional Chinese-American detective created by Earl Derr Biggers in 1919. Loosely based on Honolulu detective Chang Apana, Biggers conceived of the benevolent and heroic Chan as an alternative to Yellow Peril stereotypes, such as villains like Fu Manchu...

 film Murder Over New York, there is a reference to the World's Fair. E.B. White recounts a visit to the fair in his 1939 essay "The World of Tomorrow."

Later generations have attempted to recapture the impression it made in fictional and artistic treatments, sometimes seriously, as in 1939: The Lost World of the Fair, a mixed non-fiction and fictional book by David Gelernter
David Gelernter
David Hillel Gelernter is a professor of computer science at Yale University. In the 1980s, he made seminal contributions to the field of parallel computation, specifically the tuple space coordination model, as embodied by the Linda programming system...

, or World's Fair, by E. L. Doctorow
E. L. Doctorow
Edgar Lawrence Doctorow is an American author.- Biography :Edgar Lawrence Doctorow was born in the Bronx, New York City, the son of second-generation Americans of Russian Jewish descent...

, but often with ironic intent, notably in Matt Groening's show Futurama
Futurama
Futurama is an American animated science fiction sitcom created by Matt Groening and developed by Groening and David X. Cohen for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series follows the adventures of a late 20th-century New York City pizza delivery boy, Philip J...

which was named after the GM exhibit. The first episode has a cryogenicist say, "Welcome to the World of Tomorrow!":
  • Doc Savage
    Doc Savage
    Doc Savage is a fictional character originally published in American pulp magazines during the 1930s and 1940s. He was created by publisher Henry W. Ralston and editor John L...

    , the most popular character of the Pulp Era and an adventure series based on scientific detection, was seen as a perfect match for the Fair's "world of the future" concept and hence tapped by the World's Fair President Grover Whalen to do a Grand Opening cross promotion with publishing house Street & Smith. The still under-construction Fair appeared in the finale of The Giggling Ghosts (1938), and then was the focus of the entire book The World's Fair Goblin (1939), which was written in the fall of 1938 after the editors and authors were given a private fact-finding/research tour of the Fair. The original draft of The World's Fair Goblin was called The Man of Tomorrow, but it was considered better advertising to include the World's Fair name in the title.
  • An episode of Pinky and the Brain
    Pinky and the Brain
    Pinky and the Brain is an American animated television series.The characters Pinky and the Brain first appeared in 1993 as a recurring segment on the show Animaniacs...

     takes place in the 1939 World's Fair.
  • DC Comics published a 1939 New York World's Fair Comics comic book, followed by a 1940 edition in the next year. It became the precursor of the long-running Superman/Batman
    Batman
    Batman is a fictional character created by the artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger. A comic book superhero, Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27 , and since then has appeared primarily in publications by DC Comics...

     team-up book World's Finest Comics
    World's Finest Comics
    World's Finest Comics was an American comic book series published by DC Comics from 1941 to 1986. The series was initially titled World's Best Comics for its first issue; issue #2 switched to the more familiar name...

    . The 1939 and 1940 comics were sometimes referenced in All-Star Squadron. Early Superman was described as a result of natural evolution from the inhabitants of his native world, leading to his alias "Man of Tomorrow", which reminds one of the "World of Tomorrow" theme of the Fair.
  • In The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a 2000 novel by American author Michael Chabon that won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001. The novel follows the lives of two Jewish cousins before, during, and after World War II. They are a Czech artist named Joe Kavalier and a Brooklyn-born...

    by Michael Chabon
    Michael Chabon
    Michael Chabon born May 24, 1963) is an American author and "one of the most celebrated writers of his generation", according to The Virginia Quarterly Review....

    , one of the main characters breaks into the abandoned fairgrounds and the Perisphere itself, where he has a significant sexual experience.
  • "Fifty Years After the Fair", written and recorded by Aimee Mann
    Aimee Mann
    Aimee Mann is an American rock singer-songwriter, guitarist and bassist.-Early life:Aimee Mann grew up in Bon Air, Virginia, graduated from Open High School in 1978 and attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, but dropped out to sing with her first punk rock band, the Young Snakes...

     describes the Fair from the current vantage point of "tomorrow", with a mixture of nostalgia and remorse.
  • The producers of Batman: The Animated Series
    Batman: The Animated Series
    Batman: The Animated Series is an American animated series based on the DC Comics character Batman. The series featured an ensemble cast of many voice-actors including Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Arleen Sorkin, and Loren Lester. The series won four Emmy Awards and was nominated...

    took their basis for the architecture of the series from the World's Fair. The reference is appropriate as Batman
    Batman
    Batman is a fictional character created by the artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger. A comic book superhero, Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27 , and since then has appeared primarily in publications by DC Comics...

     made his debut in comics in 1939. In the animated spin-off film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
    Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
    Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is a 1993 animated superhero film based on the fictional DC Comics character Batman, and is a spin-off of the Emmy Award-winning Batman: The Animated Series...

    ,
    a young Bruce Wayne and his girlfriend attend the Gotham World's Fair, dubbed "The World of Tomorrow" and full of 1930s' style architecture.
  • The fair is featured prominently in the graphic novel "Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?" by Brian Fies. In it, a father takes his young son to the fair which inspires him to a lifelong fascination with the promise of a hopeful, wonder-filled future.

External links