THE 1939 NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR, like the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, was an event of major proportions. It was scheduled so that it came just after 'The Great Depression' that we had experienced...a time of hardship, struggle, and tears for, not only America, but much of the World. It was called "The World Of Tomorrow", and was meant to show how bright the future would be for all of us in the year's to come.
This '39 NYWF is one that I've loved, studied about, researched, and, have collected memorablia from, for over 30 years. Its eye-popping Art Deco images, the futuristic concepts, the simplicity and 'heart' of those who came to the Fair from far-and-wide trying to get a grasp on what the Future held for them, and the hope of a better life they thought they'd find in that Future, has always touched me very deeply. And, if you know me at all, you can't imagine how many times through the years that I've wished I could travel back in time to visit that Fair myself .
NOW, AS WITH ALL 'Looks Into The Future', not all of the ideas, concepts, and, prognostications, that were predicted at the Fair came true. But one new form of communication completely overwhelmed those that experienced it, and eventually would become one of the most powerful broadcasting tools ever invented...it was called: TELEVISION ! (Pictured here is the Westinghouse Building that was at the Fair.)
At that 1939 New York World's Fair, RCA, General Electric, Crosley, and, Westinghouse, all had exhibits demonstrating television. Even General Motors got into the got into the act by showing their "Picturephone", which was a 1939 version of a telephone/webcam, or, an early iPhone, as shown here. (Photo courtesy of GM Archives.) It was the very first "mass demonstration" of this new form of communication by these major corporations ever held.
Those who visited the Fair were sometimes invited to stand in front of the TV cameras so they and their friends & families could see them on TV. When asked what he thought of "TV", one visitor said: "It's okay ! It's like a radio...with pictures." He wasn't wrong.
Of course, most of the futuristic highways, electronic devices, bridges, cities, and, forms of air travel that were predicted, never made it past the gates of the '39 NYWF. Television, however, would eventually find its way into everyone's home...but that wouldn't happen till a few years later, after the Second World War was over.
[ MUCH MORE TO COME ! THIS SHOULD HOLD YOU FOR AWHILE !! JK]
SOME OF MY PERSONAL COLLECTION OF ITEMS FROM THE 1939 NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR IS SHOWN BELOW:
1. Above Left: The beautiful large-format "linen-like" book showcasing full-page views - many turned into Post Cards- of Exhibits & Pavilions at the NYWF. This magnificient, 11in. w X 8 in. h, 30 page book, has been one of the focal points of my personal collection for almost 4 decades.
2. Above Right: One of my personal favorite souvenir's of the 1939 NYWF...an actual ticket from the Fair dated August 15th, 1939. The Fair was before I was born, BUT, my Birthday is August 13th...so if I'd been alive at that time, I could have made the trip to New York and gone there for my Birthday !
3. Above Left: An Official Guide Book to the 1939 NYWF. A thick, 256 page book, listing all Exhibits & Pavilions at the Fair, plus it has a Map that opens up to help you find your way around.
4. Above Right: One of the largest, most-visited exibit buildings at the 1939 NYWF was the General Motors Exhibit Building. It was paired with the GM "Futurama" Exhibit, which many fairgoers stood in line for hours to visit & view. This brochure opens-up to a large 17in. w X 18 in. h size, and gives a complete look at what you'll see at the exhibit, PLUS, a complete look & information about all of the new line-up of General Motors Cars for 1939: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, LaSalle, Oldsmobile, and, Pontiac.
5. Above Left: An "Around The Grounds" Pocket Size Schedule by Greyhound for both Bus & Boat Travel at the Fair that also opens-up into a Map of the Fair.
6. Above Right: Another beautiful brochure/book of some of the Exhibits & Pavilions at the NYWF in a smaller size than the linen-like book shown above...I also have the Original Mailing Envelope that came with it, so you could send it as a Souvenir to someone back home.
MORE GREAT IMAGES FROM THE '39 NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR...
"THE WORLD OF TOMORROW" DOCUMENTARY, By Lance Bird, Tom Johnson, and, John Crowley. (1984)
ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL, touching, and powerful documentaries ever produced. I first saw this on PBS in 1984 and later taped it on VHS. It needs to be on DVD.
Narrated perfectly by the great JASON ROBARDS, it shows how our world was poised between The Great Depression & WWII. The '39 New York World's Fair was set to show us the "positive" side of the future, pull us out of the doldrums of the Depression and zoom us into "The World Of Tomorrow"...which would hold a bright future for every man, woman, and, child.
Some of the rarest, early colour photography was researched & unearthed for this unique presentation. Its features include new cities planned to accomodate its inhabitants with plenty of clean, airy, space; super highways so we could travel routes that were uncongested; that new fangled invention "television" that would replace the radio in our living rooms; new appliances that would take the drudgery out of housework; a telephone with a video screen attached so that you could see the person you were talking to; Robots that could be programmed to communicate with us, take commands, do whatever work we needed done, ...and many, many other ways that the future would be one that we could eagerly look forward to.
BUT, by the time the Fair began, Hitler's rise to power, and his marching into Poland, and treading on every area he could enter, had started the wheels-in-motion to bring the World into a new World War...which would be worse than WWI. SO, by 1940 when the Fair's head, Grover Whalen, was replaced, the U.S.A., and the rest of the World was on edge...and by the Fall of 1940 the NYWF would close on a somber note.
"The World Of Tomorrow" is truly a must see documentary for those who are old enough to remember that early time period, for those of us who grew up in the waning year's of WWII, and for those who don't fit into either of those catagories but want to learn how this important piece of history impacted the world we live in today. After all, for us this IS our "World Of Tomorrow", for better or worse.
READ ALL ABOUT IT !
"The World Of Tomorrow", By Larry Zim, Mel Lerner & Herbert Rolfes. Harper & Row, Pub. (1988) (See the Review of this book in the Library by Clicking-On-This-Link.)
"1939: THE LOST WORLD OF THE FAIR", By David Gelernter. Avon Books, Pub. (1996) (See the Review of this book in the Library by Clicking-On-This-Link .)
"TWILIGHT AT THE WORLD OF TOMORROW", By James Mauro. Ballantine Books,Pub. (2010) (See the Review of this book in the Library by Clicking-On-This-Link .)
SUPER HERO'S AT THE WORLD'S FAIR !
YES, EVEN THE SUPER HER0'S got into the spirit of the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair ! DC Comics published a Special Issue "NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR COMICS" in 1939 which featured Superman, Zatara The Magician, The Sandman, and others.
Then, for the next season, they released the "New York World's Fair Comics, 1940 Issue", which starred the terrific trio of Superman, Batman, and, Robin...along with The Sandman, and, Slam Bradley. And, with 96 pages in each jam-packed, thrills-a-minute, Issue, how could a kid go wrong !!
ACTUALLY, IN THE SUMMER OF 1965, I had the privilege of attending the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair...held on the same grounds as the 1939 NYWF.
NOTE: Some Photos/Images on this page from my personal collection as stated above. All other Photos/Images courtesy of their original owners/copyright holders...with sincere thanks.