Friday, April 30, 2010

1939 World's Fair Opened On This Date

The New York World's Fair, held in Flushing Meadows, opened on this date in 1939. Staged just as the United States was emerging from the Great Depression, the Fair was an abject financial failure at the time.  But it's art deco design sensibility, exemplified by the Trylon and Perisphere at left, as well as its futuristic themes have made it an object of enduring historical and artistic fascination. While the United States did not enter into WWII until over two years later, the Fair nonetheless reflected the fact that Europe was already on the verge of war.  Nazi Germany was the only major country not to participate in the Fair.  And when the Fair re-opened for it's second (and last) season in 1940, the Polish and Czech pavilions did not re-open with it. 

Embedded below is 4 minutes of color home movies taken at the Fair. In addition to containing fascinating footage of some of the Fair's most famous attractions like "Elektro" the smoking robot and the Futurama exhibit (a massive diorama of the United States with miniature houses and skyscrapers, roads and highways on which tiny model cars and trucks moved in perpetuity), this is most noteworthy in some ways because of how 'normal' it all looks, in many respects very much like an amusement park today.

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