Special Collections Department
PROGRESS MADE VISIBLE
NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR, 1939
"Building the World of Tomorrow" was the motto of the last of the great American World's Fairs. One of the most popular American fairs, with its themes of unlimited progress through technology and an idealized American family offered hope to a society just emerging from the Depression and heading into a world war. Unfortunately, the idealism inherent in the concept of a World's Fair couldn't survive in the more cynical post-war world. Later Fairs were more overtly commercial and other forms of spectacle superseded family visit to the Fair.
The Fair's primary stylistic vocabulary was that of the streamlined and modern design which they helped establish. Nowhere was that design more apparent than in the Trylon and Perisphere, a 700-foot spire and an orb as wide as a city block, created to be the Fair's focal point. Inside the Perisphere was the fair's central exhibit: Democracity, a diorama of the city of the future. The most popular exhibit was the Futurama exhibit at the General Motors pavilion, designed by Norman Bel Geddes, one of the leading industrial designer of the 1930s. Futurama was a massive, 36,000 square-foot scale model of America in 1960, complete with futuristic homes, urban complexes, bridges, dams, surrounding landscape, and, most important, an advanced highway system which permitted speeds of 100 miles per hour. Visitors viewed the exhibit from moving chairs with individual loudspeakers. General Motors defined the future as automobile-centered, with urban design remade to accommodate their commercial products.
New York World's Fair.|
Official Souvenir Book, New York World's Fair, 1939. New York: Exposition Publications, 1939.
|Firestone Tire and Rubber Company.|
Firestone Builds Today the Tire of Tomorrow: New York World's Fair 1939. The Company, 1939.
Crosby Gaige, 1882-1949.|
New York World's Fair Cook Book, The American Kitchen. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1939.
|Negro Week on the American Common, World's Fair of 1940 in New York, July 23/28: souvenir program. New York: American Common of the World's Fair .|
Hendrik Willem van Loon, 1882-1944.|
My School Books: from the unpublished autobiography of Hendrik Willem van Loon. Newburgh, N.Y.: E.I. Du Pont de Nemours..."Fabrikoid" division, 1939.
|Delaware Day, Sept. 12, '39, New York World's Fair. Wilmington, Del.: Cann, 1939.|
|Almanac for New Yorkers compiled by workers of the Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration in the City of New York. New York: Modern Age Books, 1939.|
|Views of the New York World's Fair. Long Island City, N.Y.: Quality Art Novelty Co., 1939.|