Wednesday, April 30, 2014



New York City (JFK+50) The opening ceremonies of the 1939 World's Fair were held here in New York City on this day 75 years ago, Sunday, April 30, 1939.

The Fair, the second largest world's fair held in the United States, was located on 1216 acres at Flushing Meadow Park.

The day was christened "Dawn of a New Day."*

*Blue and Orange were designated as the Fair's official colors.

The ceremonies, attended by more than 200,000,  included speeches by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and New York Governor Herbert Lehman.

Albert Einstein gave a speech on cosmic rays and then the park's electric lights were illuminated. 

The ceremonies, televised for the first time in history, were watched by 1000 people on 200 television sets throughout the NY area. 

The telecast was over W2XBS which eventually became WNBC.

According to the Fair's brochure...

"The eyes of the Fair are on the future.  To its visitors, the Fair (says)...
'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.'"

Grover Whalen, the Fair's president, called it "the greatest peacetime project ever undertaken."

The Fair opened for 2 seasons, both running from April through October of 1939 and 1940.  

The 1939 NY World's Fair was divided into "Zones"...of transportation, communications and business, food, government and more.

The central buildings of the Fair were the all-white TRYLON which was 700 feet high, and the PERISPHERE at 200 feet high.  

                   Trylon and Perisphere
                      1939 World's Fair
                          New York City
                  Photo by Sam Gottscho
                Library of Congress Image

In the TRANSPORTATION ZONE visitors could enter the 36,000 sq. ft. General Motors FUTURAMA exhibit which included a model of an American city of 1960.   It was designed by Norman Bel Geddes.

Visitors viewed FUTURAMA from moving chairs which included their own individual loud speakers.

The exhibit by FORD MOTOR COMPANY featured a 100 foot turntable called "The Ford Cycle of Production." 

The COMMUNICATIONS AND BUSINESS ZONE featured an art gallery with works from 70 different countries and the RCA building, which was shaped like a radio tube, included a large glass window with a mural of the accomplishments of RCA technology.

The RCA exhibit also featured the latest TELEVISION sets with the image reflected from a mirror within their open lids.

                        You Tube Video

The WESTINGHOUSE Exhibit was popular for its TIME CAPSULE which included copies of Life Magazine, a Mickey Mouse watch, and a Gillette Safety Razor. 

The capsule is scheduled to be opened in the year 6939.

There was also a robot named ELEKTRO who could walk and talk with visitors.  He even had a robot dog named SPARKO.

                     You Tube Video

The GOVERNMENT ZONE included exhibitions from 60 foreign governments including the BRITISH PAVILION which displayed the copy of the MAGNA CARTA from the Lincoln Cathedral.**

**This was the 1st time this copy had been out of Great Britain and it remained in the United States until after WWII.  

                      British Pavilion
                    1939 World's Fair
                       New York City
           Library of Congress Image

The USSR PAVILION held a life size copy of the interior of the MAYAKOVSKAYA STATION.  Its' designer, Alexey Dushkin, won the Fair's GRAND PRIZE.***

***Germany did not participate in the Fair and the USSR exhibit was open only for the 1st season.


                       You Tube Video