The 1939 New York World’s Fair was a beacon of hope and progress for a world recovering from the ‘Great Depression’. With the aim of boosting the nation’s morale and economy, this international exposition was the second most expensive American fair of all time and attracted a staggering 44 million visitors. Held at the Flushing Meadows park, the fair’s theme was ‘the world of tomorrow’, and its opening slogan, ‘Dawn of a New Day’, captured the spirit of optimism and innovation that defined the event.
Here are 15 iconic pictures that capture the energy, wonder, and excitement of this historic occasion
1) A picture of U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt delivering an address at the opening ceremony of the $160,000,000 1939 New York World’s Fair. During this address, he famously said that America has ‘hitched her wagon to a star of goodwill’.
2) Visitors pictured ascending the ‘electric stairway’ in the Hall of Power at the Westinghouse building.
3) A Pontiac deluxe ‘Ghost car’ made of plexiglass displayed at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
The Pontiac Deluxe ‘Ghost Car’ was a stunning display of innovation at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Made entirely of Plexiglass, this unique car was designed to showcase the potential of this new material, which was just beginning to be used in manufacturing. Despite its transparent appearance, the car was fully functional, with an eight-cylinder engine and working steering and brakes. It quickly became a popular attraction at the fair and continues to be remembered as a marvel of engineering and design.
4) The crowd excitedly watches the Westinghouse Moto-Man, Elektro as he performs his 26 mechanical tricks such as smoking a cigarette, talking, walking and counting.
The image shows the Westinghouse Moto-Man, Elektro, performing a variety of mechanical tricks in front of a large crowd at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Despite being made of metal and mechanical parts, he could perform tasks that were previously thought impossible for machines. The crowd watches with excitement as Elektro showcases his futuristic abilities, including smoking a cigarette, walking, talking, and counting.
5) A picture of the impressive consolidated Edison’s water fountain, taken at night.
This photograph captures the beauty of the Consolidated Edison water fountain at night, one of the many impressive displays at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The fountain combined water and light to create intricate patterns and colors that mesmerized fair-goers. The photograph showcases the impressive combination of water and light, with stunning colors and patterns visible in the fountain’s design. The Consolidated Edison water fountain remains an iconic part of the fair and a testament to the innovative and creative displays showcased at the event.
6) A picture of the Streamlined locomotive New York Central ‘Hudson’ at the 1939 World’s Fair.
The photograph shows the New York Central ‘Hudson’ locomotive, one of the transportation highlights of the 1939 World’s Fair. The locomotive was designed with a sleek and streamlined exterior, showcasing the latest advancements in transportation technology. The photograph captures the impressive power and design of the locomotive, which was a symbol of progress and innovation at the time. The New York Central ‘Hudson’ locomotive remains an important artifact of transportation history and a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of its designers.
7) Rosalie Fairbanks, a guide to the fair, points to the theme centre of the fair- the iconic Trylon and Perisphere structures.
This photograph captures Rosalie Fairbanks, a guide at the 1939 World’s Fair, pointing towards the Trylon and Perisphere structures, the iconic theme center of the fair. The Trylon and Perisphere were towering structures that symbolized progress and innovation, and were designed to represent science, industry, and social progress. The structures were a key attraction at the fair, drawing millions of visitors who marveled at their futuristic design. In the photograph, Fairbanks gestures towards the structures, highlighting their importance and significance to the fair.
8) Queen Elizabeth and King George VI (First Car) on the way to the 1939 New York World’s Fair on June 10, 1939.
This photograph shows Queen Elizabeth and King George VI arriving at the 1939 New York World’s Fair in their car on June 10, 1939. The royal couple’s visit to the fair was a significant event, drawing large crowds of people who were eager to catch a glimpse of the British monarchs. The photograph captures the excitement of the moment, with the crowd cheering as the car arrives. The fair was a symbol of progress and innovation, and the visit of the royal couple highlighted its importance on the international stage.
9) The entry to the General Motors’ Exhibit, the exhibit was visited by more than 25 million people.
This photograph shows the entry to the General Motors’ Exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, which was visited by more than 25 million people. The exhibit was a showcase of the latest innovations in automotive design and technology, featuring a range of concept cars and futuristic displays. The entryway featured a grand arch and a towering sculpture of a car, inviting visitors to step inside and explore the wonders of the automotive industry. The exhibit was a popular attraction at the fair, drawing large crowds who were fascinated by the latest advancements in transportation technology.
10) A picture of Futurama, a 1960 model of the world designed by Norman Bel Geddes. This is how he envisioned the future in the next 20 years. It had futuristic features such as skyscrapers, segregation of traffic and a motorway system. The model truly fit the theme of the fair.
The Futurama exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair was a large-scale model of a futuristic world designed by Norman Bel Geddes. The exhibit showcased his vision of how the world would look like in the next 20 years. Visitors could view the model from an elevated platform that moved along a track, giving them a bird’s eye view of the entire exhibit. The model featured futuristic buildings, highways, and transportation systems, all designed to show the potential of new technologies and innovations. The exhibit was a popular attraction at the fair, drawing large crowds who were fascinated by the possibilities of the future.
11) Visitors enjoying the bumper boats, one of the many unique rides at the 1939 New York World’s fair.
The bumper boats were one of the many rides available at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Visitors could pilot the small boats and engage in playful collisions with other riders, providing a fun and exciting experience for fair-goers of all ages. The ride was located in the amusement park section of the fair, which offered a variety of attractions to entertain and thrill visitors.
12) A picture of visitors crowding around a new type of television at the RCA exhibit.
13) An iconic picture of the Soviet Pavillion at the 1939 World’s Fair.
This iconic photograph captures the striking Soviet Pavilion and featured a towering statue of a worker holding a hammer and sickle, symbolizing the power of the Soviet Union. The photo shows the intricately designed building, with its many pillars and arches, and the bold red color that dominated the pavilion’s facade. The Soviet Union’s presence at the fair was intended to showcase the country’s accomplishments in science, technology, and culture, and to promote its socialist ideology. The pavilion attracted millions of visitors and played an important role in shaping the image of the Soviet Union in the eyes of the world.
14) Swimmers of the famous Billy Rose Aquacade show, one of the most successful production at the fair.
15) The fair came to an end as the world prepared itself for World War II. Below is a picture of the dismantling of the fair’s theme centre the Trylon and Perisphere.
The Trylon was a tall, slender tower standing at 610 feet, while the Perisphere was a massive spherical structure that housed various exhibits. The fair attracted millions of visitors, but after its conclusion, the structures were disassembled and sold for scrap due to their enormous size and cost of maintenance.