New York World's Fair

Related Overviews

Norman Bel Geddes (1893—1958)

Henry Ford (1863—1947) American motor manufacturer

Henry Dreyfuss (1904—1972)

Raymond Loewy (1893—1986)

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'New York World's Fair' can also refer to...

New York World’s Fair (1939–40)

New York World's Fair (1939–40)

“Still Life with Vitamins: Art and Science at the 1939 New York World’s Fair”

Temples and Turnpikes in “The World of Tomorrow”: Religious Assemblage and Automobility at the 1939 New York World's Fair

Art Out of Place: International Art Exhibits at the New York World's Fair of 1964–1965

DRYFOOS, Orvil E. (1912 - 1963), Publisher of The New York Times, since 1961; President since 1957, and Publisher, The New York Times Company; President-Director, The New York Times of Canada Limited, since 1959; also President, Vice-President, or Director of several other companies, since 1944; Director, New York World’s Fair 1964–65 Corporation

The End of the Innocence: The 1964–1965 New York World's Fair. By Lawrence R. Samuel. (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2007. xxiv, 243 pp. $29.95, ISBN 978-0-8156-0890-5.)

Shanny Peer. France on Display: Peasants, Provincials, and Folklore in the 1937 Paris World's Fair. (SUNY Series in National Identities.) Albany: State University of New York Press. 1998. Pp. xiv, 265. $21.95

Savage Acts: Wars, Fairs and Empire. Produced by Pennee Bender, Joshua Brown, Andreas Ades Vasquez, and Stephen Briar for the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning, the City University of New York; directed by Pennee Bender, Joshua Brown, and Andreas Ades Vasquez; written by Pennee Bender. 1995; color; 30 minutes. Video distributor: American Social History Project, Inc. (212) 966-4248 and A World on Display: The St. Louis World's Fair of 1904. Produced by Eric Breitbart and Mary Lance; written and directed by Eric Breitbart. 1994; color; 53 minutes. Video distributor: Cinema Guild, 1697 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10019 (800) 723–5552


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In many ways this major international exhibition typified the global economic, commercial, and corporate power and influence wielded by the United States of America by the time of the Second World War. Many of that country's leading companies, such as General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Kodak, and Westinghouse, contributed major buildings and exhibitions on the Flushing Meadow site and generally sought to portray themselves as major contributors to a utopian future world in which they played a key role in satisfying consumer desires and needs. Typical of this outlook was the representation of an imagined world of 1960 in the highly popular Futurama display in the General Motors Pavilion by Norman Bel Geddes or the vision of a futuristic Democracity by the industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss in the Perisphere at the centre of the exhibition site. In some ways it may be seen as a full‐blooded expression of the aims that had underpinned the Chicago Century of Progress Exposition of 1933–4, planned as a testament to a technologically and scientifically progressive America in which major corporations played a key role in the period of recovery following the Wall Street Crash of 1929. However, the NYWF was distinctly more forward looking than other international exhibitions held in the United States in the same decade: the California‐Pacific International Exposition at San Diego (1935–6) and the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco designed to celebrate the building of the Golden Gate and Oakland Bay bridges in the city (1939). Fittingly the NYWF came at the end of a decade that had seen the brief rise of the Technocratic Party, the popularization of the medium of science fiction, and emergence of comic strip heroes such as Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and Superman.

The NYWF provided a fitting material response to its chosen major theme of ‘Building the World of Tomorrow with the Tools of Today’. It took three years to plan and build prior to its opening in April 1939 and the participation of 60 countries, the majority of American states, and numerous powerful companies underlined its international, political, and economic significance, as did the enormous 1,216‐acre (492‐hectare) site and 300 buildings. The striking and highly visible centrepieces of the exhibition were the Trylon and Perisphere, both of which became widely recognized symbols of the Fair. The soaring, needle‐like 700‐foot (212‐metre) Trylon tower, symbolizing aspiration, and the adjacent Perisphere (the largest ever man‐made globe), symbolizing the significance of the world, dominated the site and featured in much of the NYWF publicity, related ephemera, souvenirs, and merchandise. These included Remington Cadet typewriters, Bissell carpet sweepers, radios, silverware, and commemorative plates by Tiffany & Co., numerous fabric designs, postage stamps, comics, magazines, and posters, including Joseph Binder's award‐winning design for the NYWF poster competition of 1938. The Perisphere contained Dreyfuss's utopian vision of Democracity, a vast panorama of a planned metropolitan environment of 2039 that could be viewed from above by spectators who travelled round the exhibit on revolving balconies, as if in an aircraft, at the rate of 8,000 per day.


Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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