Thinking that almost everything was on the Web, one day I searched for the New York World's Fair of 1939 and 1940, but I didn't find it. [That was in 1995 or 1996, before the several sites dedicated to this topic appeared.] So I made this page, and here it is. Why? Maybe because I have more server storage space than I need at the moment. But there is something more than that to it. Perhaps only those, such as I, who went to THE FAIR as children will understand fully why I took the time to celebrate this symbol that remains bright in a dwindling number of minds.
To go to this fair was to have your life changed forever. It was there that I was amazed by a device that measured the thickness of my hair, by a General Motors vision of 1960 (I asked my parents whether I'd still be alive at that distant time in the future), by mighty Railroads on Parade and Railroads at Work, by climbing up to look into the cockpit of a real airplane, by witnessing for the first time something called television; and I was chilled by the sight of a gas mask, as if I realized that here was a sign of what soon would dash or delay many of the hopes that THE FAIR expressed.
During more than half the years since THE FAIR closed I have taught philosophy, religion, and sometimes history (really always history, since everything is part of the story of how we have struggled and sometimes soared in making what may be progress). But I have never forgotten THE FAIR. I think that it has given me a better perspective than I could have had on human beings as dreamers, aspireers, hopers, builders than I could have had if there were not somewhere in me memories of THE FAIR. There was much of it that I didn't see, didn't understand, didn't appreciate. Probably one could make a case for portraying it as a lot of nonsense or a tawdry attempt to make a buck in the midst of a depression. I haven't studied it enough to know to what extent such claims could be justified. But, whatever the motivation behind any or all of THE FAIR, there was something very good about it. Moreover, I believe that a world that could give rise to THE FAIR must have something pretty good at its heart.
For me THE FAIR was something of a dream, as well as an actuality that spoke of the future, "the world of tomorrow." It remains a monument to those who dream and who "dare to do their dreams" . I have spent much of my life learning about the New Thought movement, which is dedicated to turning dreams into actualities; perhaps having something of THE FAIR deep within me has helped me to appreciate it and similar movements of aspiration.
So this is my little tribute to THE FAIR. Creating it has been a respite from my usual efforts to understand the nature of things. THE FAIR and memories and influences of it are data to be considered in attempting to discover what is real, and to be enjoyed irrespective of how much one may reflect on them.
What does this site do? Basically, nothing. It just sits here, occupying space that probably could be put to better use in any number of ways. What might it do? Perhaps it will attract some other gray-headed people who share something of my feeling about THE FAIR, or some youngsters (people under 50 or 60 or whatever age you may specify) who come upon the representation of the Trylon and Perisphere and wonder why anybody saw fit to put it here. Maybe people with e-mail addresses who want to correspond about it will want me to list them here. I'd be willing to do that.
If you have any reactions to any of this, I'd be glad to hear from you. I might even answer. Use the e-mail address below or follow the links above to find me.
Celebration, not education, is the major emphasis here, but it may be appropriate to mention that there are tons of material about THE FAIR, including souvenirs, photographs, and writings (one might start with probably the most recent, David Gelernter's 1939: The Lost World of The Fair, published by The Free Press in 1995). I claim no great familiarity with any of this. I am no expert on THE FAIR. I simply appreciate it. That seems like enough reason to point to it by putting this site onto the Web.
I wrote the above material in April 1996.
UPDATE. Much as I have resisted making this site conventionally educational, I have pursued my searching and have discovered some Web sites related to THE FAIR (but nothing that makes this site superfluous), so I am adding the following links. Since there are several references to THE FAIR on the Web, it would be appropriate to have a central location for listing them, and this seems to be it.
The Iconography of Hope: The 1939-40 New York York World's Fair
Images from the '39 NY World's Fair, featuring extremely interesting postcards, advertisements, and comics, and linked to other historical material
The 1939 New York World's Fair. Contains various quotations, citations, and links.
World's Fair photography by Howard Frank, "Night Diver" at Aquacade, "The Fair at Night," "Bus Stop," and many others. The photographer still is active and sells his photographs. See his site.
The "Pic of the Month" of the Henry Ford Museum Online for January 1996 was of a poster showing the Trylon and Perisphere from above. The caption explains, "The emblem of the New York World's Fair, the modernistic Trylon and Perisphere, was reproduced on 25,000 items between 1939 and 1940. Among these was the poster pictured here. The museum also has many other items from World's Fairs including programs and post cards." The poster pictured can be found in Larry Zim, Mel Lerner, and Herbert Rolfes, The World of Tomorrow: The 1939 New York World's Fair (Harper & Row, 1988), at p. 194; the poster at the top of this site at p. 219.
William Grant Still Exhibition, at Special Collections Library, Duke University, devoted to the composer of music adopted by NYWF.
An ad for memorabilia
Another ad for memorabilia
Karastan rug ad
VARIOUS FAIRS AND SIMILAR PLACES
The World's Fair Collectors Society email@example.com
The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, an award-winning site.
Other links are to be found at various places below. I have left links that no longer work, in order to give some indication of what once existed, and might be found elsewhere.
COMMUNICATIONS: QUESTIONS, ANSWERS, and OBSERVATIONS
From time to time I have received queries about various matter related to THE FAIR. To the extent that I have had answers I have given them, but I have not had some answers. I shall list here questions for which I do not have adequate answers. If I receive answers, I shall pass them along to the inquirers. If I judge them of general interest, I shall put the information here. If you would like to have your own words of questions or answers printed here, please say so. If you have a preference as to whether you would like your name and address to remain confidential or to be made public, please indicate this. If you do not say otherwise, I shall not put your exact words and identity here.
If you have any recollections of THE FAIR or any thoughts about it that you would like to have quoted here, they would be extremely welcome.
1. Are there any books giving the current prices of memorabilia?
2. Are there any Web sites not given here directly related to either THE FAIR or the 1964-1965 one at the same location?
3. Are there motion pictures of THE FAIR or was THE FAIR used as a background for any motion pictures?
SOME ANSWERS, OTHER INFORMATION, AND OBSERVATIONS in addition to various unprinted communications expressing thanks for this site and telling of the fascination and inspiration that some young people devive from the optimism expressed by THE FAIR. Many thanks to you.
A May 1996 highly informative message:
Thank you for creating this site. I happen to be addicted to World's Fairs to the extent that half of my home is decorated in World's Fair. The last price guide that I have seen on the World's Fair was the Richard Friz book that was published in the 1980's. Many of the prices are outdated. Common antique/collectible books such as Schroeders and Kovel's have pages devoted to World's Fairs. A book in the 1970's was published on World's Columbian and I believe a recent book has been published on 1904 St. Louis but I have yet to see it. Other than the wonderful documentary on the 1939 World's fair which was narrated by Jason Robards there is a old movie with a scene in which a couple gets stuck in the Parachute Jump at the 1939 WF. The name and actors escape me at the moment. There is an exhibit at Flushing Town Hall on the 1964 World's Fair that also contains info and memorabilia on the 1939 Fair. Hurry because the exhibit closes in June. The Queens Museum of Art in Flushing has an ongoing exhibit on both Fairs. The Stony Brook Museums on Long Island had or may still have an exhibit on Robert Moses which also contained Fair info. A documentary on the 1964 Fair is currently being prepared and I am proud to say I am assisting the folks in charge with research. They have a small site which I access at http://members.aol.com/bbqprod/bbqprod.html.
An additional May 1996 message from the same writer:
You may reprint any portions of this or my former letter. Here are a few more
details: The documentary narrated by Jason Robards is called "The World of
Tomorrow." It is shown on PBS from time to time, and is also shown, and for sale
at the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing Meadow Park (the New York City Building
at the Fairs). The Queens Museum has a permanent exhibit on the Fairs. Robert
Moses and the Shaping of New York was an exhibit that was shown at the Paine
Webber Gallery in NYC and the Museums at Stony Brook (516) 751-0066. It was due
to close May 12 but perhaps it was extended or is being moved somewhere else.
They had held an all day symposium on Moses which I attended. For those of you
who may not remember, Moses was Parks Commissioner during the 1939 Fair, and
President of the 1964 Fair. "Something for Everyone is an exhibit at Flushing
Town Hall at 137-35 Northern Blvd, Flushing (718) 463-7700. It is mostly about
the 1964 Fair but also includes artifacts and information on the 1939 Fair.
Hurry, the exhibit closes June 15. They are also sponsoring Walking Tours of
Flushing Meadow Park on the first of June.
. . . I am also looking for any info such as personal experiences, films, photos, slides memorabilia etc. from the Fairs. . . .
If you have fond memories about the 1939 Aquacade you may or may not want to visit Flushing Meadow Park. It's being demolished. Thanks for putting together this site.
From Leigh Block, firstname.lastname@example.org, who would enjoy corresponding with others.
A message received on July 13, 1996:
It is part of the American Memory series of the Smithsonian, and this page is devoted to the Gottscho-Schleisner collection of photographs, a vast record of the country in the 30's and 40's; among subjects they photographed was the Fair, and there are 587 pictures one can access, 188 of which are in color. A great resource for us Fair fans! (Use "World's Fair" or "World's Fair color" in the keyword search).
I also understand that the Museum of the City of New York will exhibit a show of World's Fair design drawings beginning August 21, 1996, should you wish to post this.
Thank you again for my absolute favorite web site and feel free to use any of my comments.
FTR, Direct Cinema distributes THE WORLD OF TOMORROW on home video. I want to say the movie with the couple on the Parachute Jump is Hitchcock's MR. & MRS. SMITH, but not only can I not say for sure, I'm not sure whether or not the scene didn't take place at Coney Island, where the PJ ended up. I think your page is superb.
I'd be honored if you put my message on your site. I forgot to mention that the World's Fair Show and Sale is held in Brooklyn. I'll send you a flyer when I get one. Also, The Queens Museum of Art puts out a brochure of World's Fair memorabilia from their Museum Shop. You can get on the mailing list by writing to:
Queens Museum of Art
New York City Building
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Queens, New York 11368
On February 28, 1997, I received a message from Betty Abramowitz, Museum Shop Manager, requesting that anyone wishing to sell memorabilia to the shop contact her at (718) 592-9700 Ext. 238.
If people would like to send messages to numerous others who have written to me, they could send the message to me with something like "for everyone" in the subject line, and I'll forward it to the others, whose addresses I'll put into the blind carbon copy category, so their names and addresses will not be revealed unless they reply with a message similarly categorized.
Feb. 21, 1997 message from Eckart Dissen:
My little book is in process and progress! Meanwhile I got enough information from printers to see that I can do it, and I am sending out a pre-announcement to investigate if- and in what size I may have to adjust the planning of the printing. . . . :
THE CZECHOSLOVAK ISSUES FOR THE
1939 - NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR - 1940
Fall 1997 we intend to publish a book and catalogue on the Czechoslovak Issues for the New York World's Fair of 1939 and 1940. Aim of this publication is to make the information concerning the Czechoslovak Participation at the Fair available to the public, and reveal a little peace of 'histoire disparu'. In international publications and all of the American publications on the Fair no information whatsoever on the Czechoslovak participation and Pavilion is brought forward. It seems as if Czechoslovakia was not there at all. This is not so. Although Czechoslovakia was already occupied by Nazi Germany, the Czechoslovakian Community in the United States and the Czechoslovak Government in Exile, in cooperation with the Czechoslovak Embassy in New York, created the initiative to keep the Czechoslovak Pavilion at the Fair open to the public, as a clear demonstation against the German occupation and as a demonstration for the liberation of the Czechoslovak Sovereign State. This effort led to the re-issue of Czechoslovak postage sheets of 1937 and 1938, with a distinctive overprint with the Text: CZECHOSLOVAK PARTICIPATION / NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR 1939. In 1940, the year in the overprint became of course 1940. These sheets were sold in the Czechoslovak Pavilion, net proceeds were used for the maintenance of the building. This initiative has been very successful, and altogether nearly 400 different overprints have been made and sold to the visitors, with a grant result of more than US $ 26.000,-. In those days a considerable amount.
1. Historical Perspectives / The near War period
2. On the World's Fair of 1939 and 1940
3. The Czechoslovak Issues
4. Catalogue of the twelve Issues for the NYWF and the six prepared issues for the Canadian National Exhibition of 1939, Toronto, also sold at the NYWF in 1939.
5. Some other filatelic activities of the Czechoslovak community in the US, war period.
6. List of literature in the fields of related History, The Fair and the Czechoslovak Postal History.
The introductory texts will appear simultanuously in Dutch, English and German language, with an additional summary in Czech Language. In the catalogue part this is integrated. The book will be published in an appr. Size of 15 x 21 cms., 120 pages, and ±50 illustrations. Cover in three colors, inside black and white. A limited amount of books with an original overprinted sheet of 1939 can be obtained by subscription only. Depending on the interest, the book will be published in quite a small amount. Planned is to limit this to 500 or 750 numbered copies.
Public price of the regular edition, dependant on the amount of printing, is estimated at: US $ 24,95. The subscription issue with one original overprint will be appr. US $ 38,75.
Inquiries / pre-orders E=mc2 publishers, P.O.B. 11514, 1001 GM Amsterdam, Netherlands Tel./Fax: *31 - 20 - 622 48 25, e-mail: email@example.com
A March 6, 1997, message Eckart Dissen:
As you did not publish the amount of viositors, I can give you these numbers:
1939-1940 New York World's Fair
Number of visitors: 44.932.978 (three times the dutch population of today!)
Dept in US $: 18.723.222
Size: 4.923.175 square meters
open: two seasons
Compared to some other Fairs:
1851 London, Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations (Chrystal Palace)
profit in GB pounds: 186.437
open: 4.8 months
Chicago 1893, World's Columbian Exposition
profit in US $: 807.000
open: 6.1 month
Of the other World Fairs only Montreal 1967 got 50+ million visitors, and Osaka 1970 even 64+ million. Loss in Montreal 73+ million $, profit in Japan 19.4+ billion yen!
So New York World's Fair, own its own fair place in world history.
Reading the article of Jeffrey Hart, a link from your sitepage, I quite get the feeling of excitement and sentiment, I remember myself from visiting the 1958 Brussels Fair, with 40+ million visitors in 6 months, on a ground space of 1/2 the size of the NYWF a good succeeder.
Hart brings the NYWF in a splendid context of culture and society, and makes some rather funny remarks. For me interesting: no attention towards the Czechoslovak Pavilion.
A March 1997 comunication from the Manager of the Museum Shop of Queens Museum of Art, referred to above, indicates that among the items likely to remain available for sale there are:
Remembering The Future catalog - 1939-1964 New York World's Fair, $27.00 plus $5.00 additional for shipping within the U.S.
Dawn Of A New Day - 1939 New York World's Fair, $15.00 plus $4.00 shipping within the U.S.
The World Of Tomorrow Video - The 1939 New York World's Fair, $37.75 Plus $4.00 shipping within the U.S.
The Middleton Family at the 1939 New York World's Fair - Video, $25.00 plus $4.00 shipping within the U.S.
"To The Fair" Video The 1964 New York World's Fair - by Lowell Thomas, $25.00 plus $4.00 shipping within the U.S.
Sheet of 54, 1939 New York World's Fair Poster Stamps, $15.00 plus $4.00 shipping and handling within the U.S.
Assorted 1964 Posters, 28 x 42 inches, $200.00
Assorted 1964 Posters, 11 x 16 inches, $30.00
To beginning of this site
A message received March 22, 1997:
Love your NY World's Fair page. Perhaps you can help us. My wife and I are reseaching the Fair through the experiences of its participants. We would like to correspond with people who have attended the 1939 Fair or sons/daughters who can recount their parents' experiences from stories, etc. Please post our appropriately named e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org for us. We hope to get a variety of folks contacting us. Thank you very much.
A May 24, 1997, message on movies relating to THE FAIR:
Alan, your site is great. I just found a copy of the official guide to the
fair today at a yard sale (missing its covers, alas), which is why I
web-searched for info, and found your place. I Remember a " Ma & Pa Kettle go to
the Fair" film, and a few Warner Brothers cartoons on the subject. One cartoon I
recall, was a variation on the country bumpkins go to the city theme, with a
carload of Okies heading for the 1939 worlds fair, and their mis-adventures
there. I'm sure there are many more. The fair was an incredibly hot topic at
Hope this was helpful.
Email to Epalmer@rocketmail.com
Dear Mr. Anderson,
My grandfather attended the World's Fair in New York in 1939. One night he was walking by himself throughout the fair grounds, and stopped to view a French art exhibit. The curator told him because of the war in Europe, the exhibit had to be closed early and returned to France. The curator then offered my grandfather the chance to buy any painting for a fair price. My grandfather particularly liked an oil painting of a ship preparing to go fishing, and bought it. The other day my grandfather mentioned this story to me, and was curious about the artist, Janssens. I was wondering if you could give me any information about the artists whose paintings were displayed in New York in 1939, specifically the artist, Janssens?
Thank you in advance for this courtesy!
Aug. 18, 1997
My great grandparents went to the 1939 Fair, and they brought back a coin. I have recently heard that there are three World's Fair artifacts that are worth more than others: 1893, 1904, and 1939-1940. I was wondering if you had any information on its value, or where I might find some.
It's a gold colored coin. The front of it says: IN 1939 NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR. It has the background of the tall thin column and the round ball that looks like a sun with rays coming out of it. It has a patent on the bottom. It says: DES. PAT. 107424 Under that it has EPCO.
The back of the coin depicts the inauguration of George Washington. The top of the coin has the wording: SOUVENIR OF THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY and the bottom of the coin says: GEORGE WASHINGTON'S INAUGURATION.
The coin is in very good condition. Any information you could give me will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
On September 4, 1997, The New York Times published a review of the National Tennis Center at the fair site.
Sept. 5, 1997:
I didn't see a reference to it in any of the pointers of your Web page, so if anyone is interested there was a novel written in 1985 by E.L.Doctorow (author of the more well known "Ragtime") called "World's Fair". The jacket cover shows the Trylon and Perisphere. Unfortunately, the Fair does not play as big a role in the plot as the title would imply. Some of its attractions are described, however.
PS. Thank you for your considerate and prompt reply to my earlier E-MAIL.
A Fan of the Fair,
In late August 1997 someone e-mailed me about considerable memorabilia, but the message has been lost in my computer, so I'd appreciate a re-sending of it. Thanks.
October 20, 1997:
Hello, I'm not sure if you are who I should be contacting, but I'll give this a try. I have three booklets, two from the 1933 Chicago Worlds Fair, and one from the company that created the exhibits for the 1939 w.f.in NYC, (Messmore and Damon). This 24 pg booklet shows the exhibits for the fair and also shows how alot of them were built. I haven't been able to find anyone else who has seen these booklets. They are: "The History of Torture", from the Chicago W.F. 1933........"The World a Million Years Ago", also from 1933. Both were written by Leon Morgan..........The third is "Super-Feature Exhibits for the New York World's Fair" which was printed up by the maker of the exhibits, Messmore and Damon. Feel free to post this message to anyone who might be interested. Any info. would be helpful.
Thank you. John A.Crino
Brooklyn NY.....718 383 7218 email@example.com
October 22, 1997
Hello Mr. Anderson,
I'm really interested in both of the fairs that took part at Flushing Meadows. Your site has a great deal of info and I really enjoyed my many visits to your site. I've never been to the grounds where the fair took place, but I someday hope to go there.... to explore what is left... to wonder and imagine...
Here's the address to a site that you or visitors to your site may enjoy- http://members.aol.com/worldexpos within the site, there are a few pages on the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair
A Nov. 25, 1997, communication:
Please post this message on your wonderful website. I am a reporter working on a story about how automobiles have shaped our lives and landscape. I am especially intrigued by a passage in the book "Divided Highways" that describes the General Motors Futurama exhibit. I would like to get first-hand accounts from folks - including yourself - who attended the Fair and the GM exhibit. While not essential, interviews with Utah residents would help localize my story as I write for The Salt Lake Tribune. If you or anyone reading this message would like to discuss their impressions of the Futurama and the legacy the car has left us, please call or e-mail me ASAP and no later than Jan. 1.
Thanks for all you help.
On Monday, January 26, 1998, The New York Times published in its "Taking in the Sites," by Howard Fountain, "A Virtual Trip to World's Fairs of the Past." The printed version, at page D6, has only one picture, the graphic at the top of this site, whereas the cyber version omits that, but includes a 1964-1965 New York World's Fair graphic and a Coney Island graphic. The story is followed by 11 links, including the one to this site. The printed version omits the "'s" of "World's."
Jan. 26, 1998
Alan: My mother, Doris Varvel, won a gold medal for first prize for the state of Nebr. in poetry at the 1940 NY World's Fair. The poem was called Springtime Birth. We have the medal and a certificate. We are looking for a copy of the booklet that the poem was printed in. At the time it sold for just a couple dollars and Mother couldn't afford the purchase. I would love to find a copy to purchase. You may add this query to your Web site.
Jan. 26, 1998
I'm a fan of the three major fairs of the '30's: Chicago's Century of Progress, San Francisco's Golden Gate, and NY's World Fair.
Clearly, NY's trylon and perisphere are the most recognizable of any fair symbols. Yet, when I try to find copies of NY Fair posters, I come up empty! Originals can be found for about $3,000 -- but I've yet to find less expensive copies. The other fairs have numerous fair posters available.
Are you aware of any '39 NY Fair poster copies that are available? I'd appreciate any information you might have about this.
On January 26, 1998, The New York Times published "A Virtual Trip to World's Fairs Past" by Henry Fountain, with URLs to this site and to sites dealing with the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair, Freedomland U. S. A., Boblo Island, World's Columbian EXposition, Coney Island, Palisades Amusement Park, Yesterland, and Florida's Forgotten Tourist Attractions.
On Feb. 11, 1998, Bob Hafstrom
During the winter before the fair, the transformers for the General Electric exhibit were being tested in Pittsfield, Mass. There were six 350,000 volt transformers that were built for the three phase arc They were arranged in stacks of two transformers (one on the floor and the second one on an insulated pillar. The voltage at the top of the stack was about 700,000 volts above ground. The voltage between stacks was gradually raised to about 1,000,000 volts when the arcs occurred between three pinwheels that had various salts that colored the arcs. As a "testman" (member of a group of about 500 engineering college graduates) I was fortunate enough to be in Pittsfield when these transformers were tested. When the fair opened testmen were assigned to the fair location to run the exhibit. I wasn't one of them but my fellow testmen invited me to the control booth the day I came down to the fair from Schenectady where I was on a different test assignment. The other part of the exhibit was a 10,000,000 volt lightning show similar to the one that was also at Pittsfield. Watching the audience react during the show was a show I will never forget (even at 82) General Electric does not have the test program anymore that I was fortunate to participate in. I am retired now but I still do some consulting. I enjoyed your home page.
On Feb. 12, 1998, he added:
The 10,000,000 volt lightning display at the fair was a dressed up copy of the lightning equipment in the high voltage laboratory in the General Electric Pittsfield, MA large transformer plant. The 10,000,000 volts was obtained by charging up a bank of capacitors that were connected in parallel with each other and then switching the capacitors so that they were in series. The 10,000,000 DC voltage sets up an electric field between two terminals connected to the ends of the capacitor bank. When the space between the contacts is reduced the electric intensity reaches a point where the air breaks down. When that happens a stroke of lightning occurs that would have made Ben Franklin happy. In Pittsfield, research was being conducted on the effects of the lightning on miniature buildings, etc..
More on the three phase arc: The high voltage end of each transformer bank was connected to an insulated stand with a pin wheel on the top. Each end of the pin wheel had a different salt in it. Table salt sodium chloride made the arc orange color, Iron salts produced a green arc etc. With three pinwheels (six colors) the spectacular arcs form and rise up because they heat the air and then blow out when they get too long.
Just a note: I left GE in 1940 to teach and obtain an MS degree at Iowa State, When the war broke out I moved to Washington to do research at the Naval Research Laboratory. After the war I was an Asst. Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin. In 1951 I left the teaching profession to go back into the defense industry. I retired from my own company a few years ago but still manage to keep busy. I've gone the route from "slide rule" to "computer" and have enjoyed all the challenges along the way.
From Tom Ciavarella, June 25, 1998
A wonderful web site! Congratulations!
The New York Worlds Fair-1939. Where do I begin? As they say about
Philadelphia, I spent a weekend there one night.
But with the fair, I received a lifetime of wonderful memories in only two or three days.
How my Italian, immigrant father ever succeeding in taking five of us on such an excursion at the tail end of the depression with, probably, less than $50 in his pocket was truly a magnificent accomplishment and one which will always be a mystery to me. But it was probably the greatest $50 investment he ever made when you consider the return to all of us.BR> My father was a railroad worker in Altoona Pennsylvania, although the word " work " defined a scarce commodity in those days. I won't bore you with details of the great depression since most people of this generation are sick of us older folks talking about it.
There were three children in our family. I had a brother who was 12, a sister of seven and I was about 10.
One fortunate advantage we had was that we could ride the Pennsylvania railroad on a free pass. What a break that was.
Enough of this boring background information.
What do I really remember about those experiences, both good and bad, which
will always be a part of my memories?
I remember the run down hotel where we stayed. We walked up to the second or third floor. There were sand buckets in the hallway painted red with the word " fire ". My brother and I were to sleep in a room down the hall from the one in which my mother, father, and sister were to sleep. After ten minutes or so, my brother and I were so frightened that we quickly retreated to our parents station. Would you believe that five people could sleep in one double bed? Sure they can! If they sleep crosswise and three of them are children.
I remember the next morning when my father went down to the street to buy our breakfast from a street vendor. This was truly room service. Several large bunches of grapes were all that we needed. After all we were depression kids.
I remember the subway, the overwhelming crowds, and the mystery of the turnstiles; and only a nickel. I still can't recall how we got to the subway station but, I'm quite certain that we must have walked, if only by choice. I recall having the Empire State building pointed out to us and how " awesome " it was; if you'll pardon the use of an overworked "90"s" word.
I don't know how good my memory really is anymore but I recall it costing about 75 cents to enter the fair.
Of course, there was no way one could see all of the buildings and exhibits; many of the lines were blocks long it seems and we knew our time was limited. My brother and I collected tons of brochures and pamphlets which we hauled home and saved for years. I only wish we had them now.
Of course my father's favorite building was the one from Italy. I remember it quite vividly. It was tall and there was a series of, maybe 10 steps, beginning and ending up high on the building. Water cascaded down over these steps after which it fell the remaining long distance; a huge waterfall that ended in a beautifully landscaped pool at the bottom front; near the entrance as I recall.
Things that I remember inside:
1. My father insisting on having a salomi sandwich and a glass of wine.
2. Tiny small Italian cars.
3. Huge cakes of cheese behind display windows so clean that my brother almost walked through one and that's no joke.
Without boring you to pieces, I'd just quite to quickly mention some exhibits with my recollections. Remember, I was only 10.
China-- women with extremely skilled hands making dolls with beautifully painted faces and excellent flawless coiffure.
Switzerland-- eating at an outdoor cafe; and the menu was Swiss sausages, something this kid never saw before.
General electric-- our first glimpse of television; watching a demonstration where a postcard containing some text was held up to a camera and then going outside the building and seeing it on a television monitor. Absolutely nothing short of fantastic in those days.
The Perisphere and Trylon ( I hope I have that correct)-- Riding up the escalater through the trylon and up to the huge interior of the Perisphere. Anyone who was there and saw it surely remembers what a site that was; a viewing platform around the inner circumference of the sphere and the entire " world of tomorrow" covering the entire bottom hemisphere. Buildings, roads, rivers; you name it. That was one line worth waiting in.
??? Building-- my brother and I being chased away from a display containing a series of pictures depicting the month by month evolution of a baby. My, how times have changed.
Pennsylvania railroad building-- a huge network of model trains which you viewed from bleachers; surely the greatest " under Christmas tree" display I will ever see. And of course, there was the real live locomotive outside the building, a real state of the art machine that was built right here in the Altoona PRR shops. Needless to say, my father was all smiles. And I got to go up into the cab.
Souvenirs which we brought back included one of those glass table weights
containing the Perisphere
and Trylon and "snow". We
shook it to death for years.
My brother and I each got "Buck Rogers" pocket watches. Do you remember them?
Sixty years is a long time and I'm getting tired of typing and correcting. I'm sure there are some other memories but you are surely bored by now if you got this far. Thanks for listening to one who will never forget that depression ending occasion.
(Forgive all typos, please)
Jackie Lennon, July 2, 1998
I produce a public access community TV show and do research on African American history. I would appreciate any information on Negro Week at the 1939 World's Fair. I believe it was housed in the Soviet Pavilion after the Soviet left due to the war. Many African American celebrities were present there and noted on a plaque. I need any writings, films, ads, etc. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
On July 23, 1998, The New York Times published an "A Return to the Future, 1939 Style,", by Michael Pollak, on the fair, with URLs to this site and to the University of Virginia the very impressive site of John C. Baran.
A July 26, 1998, communication:
Dear Mr. Anderson:
One of my fond recollections is the birthday party my mother had for me during the fair.Iwas born May 22, 1933, and I remember the decorations on the table was reflecting the Worlds Fair. The blue and orange decorations held me spellbound even to this day.
I did go to the fair with my mother and father quite often as we lived in Manhattan and would go on Sundays. One of the things was the greyhounds people movers. This was a train like affair to move you around the fair. Even at six years old I remember the Trilon and the Perispere going inside it and seeing the city of the future.
The Heinz pickle exhibit. I still have the little pickle pin. It was glorious the whole thing.
I don't think any fair ever came close to that one.
On August 1, 1998, I received the following account, from which I have
removed the names:
X is a Texan. When he was 18 he decided to go to the NYWF. He told his mother about his plan to hitch hike from Texas to New York. She didn't give her permission but told X to see his father in Dallas. When he saw his father, his father asked him how much money he was taking. X admitted to two dollars. His father reached into his wallet and pulled out two more dollars and told X to go to the Fair and live it up. Four days later X arrived in New York City. When he arrived at the Fair he found a way in under the fence. For four days he visited exhibits and slept in the back seats of some cars that were to be given away in a drawing. On the fourth day he decided to hide his small suitcase behind some bushes next to an exhibit hall. When he walked away he found himself surrounded by security police which had been following him around for some time. The security police tossed the luggage into a pond because they expected it to be a bomb. X explained that the suitcase had his clothes and his camera inside. They let him wade into the pond to retrieve the suitcase. The newspapers carried the story and X became a bit of a hero. He managed to get a job with American Express operating one of their little taxis. The camera still worked after he dried it out and he took a lot of photos . . .
When the war started X ended up as an aviator in the Navy working off a carrier in the western Pacific. [See correction below with regard to the immediately following statements.] He became an ACE in 1945 when he sunk more ships than any of the other pilots (I think it was 146 ships). He retired years later from the Navy and settled in San Diego.
On June 25, 1999, I received the following, from Elaine Quilici, EE@quil.reno.nv.us, related to the immediately above account:
Hey Alan...I know you are a very busy guy but my father asked me to do something for him and so I shall. My father is X the Texan. He is not on line so a friend gave him a copy of your info on the WF. Your story on him is accurate except the lines I have corrected in bold print. He is 78 yrs old and his memory is incredible. He is also very modest and did not want anyone to read inaccurate info in regards to his accolades...thus the correction. He is also in the process of correcting a misprint in another book about a successful return to his carrier after his plane was hit 200 times by the Japs. It was supposed to read 2. Thanks for your patience. If you never correct it ...no prob....Elaine...a dutiful loving daughter.
[As given above] On August 1, 1998, I received the following account, from which I have removed the names: X is a Texan. When he was 18 he decided to go to the NYWF. He told his mother about his plan to hitch hike from Texas to New York. She didn't give her permission but told X to see his father in Dallas. When he saw his father, his father asked him how much money he was taking. X admitted to two dollars. His father reached into his wallet and pulled out two more dollars and told X to go to the Fair and live it up. Four days later X arrived in New York City. When he arrived at the Fair he found a way in under the fence. For four days he visited exhibits and slept in the back seats of some cars that were to be given away in a drawing. On the fourth day he decided to hide his small suitcase behind some bushes next to an exhibit hall. When he walked away he found himself surrounded by security police which had been following him around for some time. The security police tossed the luggage into a pond because they expected it to be a bomb. X explained that the suitcase had his clothes and his camera inside. They let him wade into the pond to retrieve the suitcase. The newspapers carried the story and X became a bit of a hero. He managed to get a job with American Express operating one of their little taxis. The camera still worked after he dried it out and he took a lot of photos . . . When the war started X ended up as an aviator in the Navy flying patrol planes and bombers in the Pacific. [The incorrect material found above:] In 1945 X was credited with sinking more ships than any of the Navy pilots. (It was 46 ships sunk or damaged). He retired years later from the Navy and settled in San Diego.
June 30, 1999:
Thanks for writing back...and so quickly. By all means go ahead and use the letter. My dad Art Elder, will love it. He is really proud of his career. My mom on the other hand, is sick to death of WW2 and all the reunions he goes to each year. Of course the numbers of friends from old squadrons are diminishing. Art is a horse though! He will be the last one standing I am sure.
July 1, 1999:
Hey Alan, I spoke with my Dad this am and he was delighted that you were willing to make corrections. While on the phone he told me a story (that I had never heard before) and I thought I would share it with you. When Art left Dallas to go to the NYWF his father was a journalist making $169 a month, supporting a family of 6. When he got to the Fair he heard he could make as much as $600/month working as a guide for American Express. When he called his father to tell him he had gotten a job with AE and how much he was going to make he replied "No one can make that much money honestly! Come home immediately...you must be dealing with crooks!" Well my dad stayed and did make $600/mo.
A Sept. 1, 1998, communication:
Thanks to a reprint in the local paper from the NY Times, I logged into your site. Lots of interesting memories, but how would you like the real McCoy?
I was a guide for the NY Worlds Fair Corp. (not for Greyhound or any other concession), and I have loads of official memorabilia, but most important is an "Information Manual, New York World's Fair 1939 Incorporated" the size of a Manhattan telephone book. Anything you want to know about the fair or any of its exhibits is in that manual.
My son became fascinated with this first summer job of mine and has given me all sorts of video tapes and booklets dating from that era, including all the hokey GE, Westinghouse and At&T presentation (they were just as hokey then as they are now, at least to the guides who were a pretty sophisticated bunch, making more money than they would make again until after the war).
Anyway, if there are any particulars that you would like to get into relating to what has become a cult, I'll be delighted to help. I don't know about walking tours of the old fairgrounds, most of it is now the National Tennis Center. All of LaGuardia's plans for developing the old meadows after the fair came to nought; the place fell into disrepair, not even fun to walk, but I taught my wife to drive there. . . .
On Sept. 23, 1998, I received the following:
Dear Mr. Anderson:
Please post this messade on your World's Fair Site.
I work as a Researcher for the Queens Botanical Garden in New York (which is very close to the site of the 1939-40 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park). We are currently trying to gather information for our archives on an exhibit for the 1939-40 World's Fair called "Gardens on Parade". The Queens Botanical Garden's origins are linked to this exhibit, so it is very important to us that we find out all there is to know about it. Eventually we would like to reproduce one or two of the fifty gardens which were part of "Gardens on Parade".
If anyone knows anything about this exhibit, has photos or articles relating to it, or knows where I might find this information, I would greatly appreciate it if you would let me know. I would also be very interested to hear anything anyone remembers about this exhibit from being there.
Queens Botanical Garden
Another Sept. 23, 1998, communication, from Carol Johnson Shedd:
I was 9 when the World's Fair opened and my sister and I would go out whenever we could from the Village [Greenwich Village] where we lived. I loved best a site that had you walking through streets of yesterday. We had no money so went to whatever was free and there seemed to be lots of free shows. I think it was Westinghouse that made lightning - fascinating to a kid, But what I remember most is wanting to go on the parachute ride and not being able to afford it. However we always made enough money to go back to the fair by collecting coke bottles from the trash. We would smuggle them out and cash them in for the 2 cents and have enough for another time. One day we were going throught the pavillion to get the tiny little Heinz gherkin when a kindly woman asked us what was in our bag. We were scared of getting in trouble and said 'our lunch'. When she asked if we wanted ketchup for sandwiches we were paranoid about being found out and scooted away as fast as we could. I also remember, I think, that a family lived in a 'modern ' house for a certain length of time at the fair - I guess as a typical American family. I thought that would be great!
On Oct. 12, 1998, I heard from Leonard Levitan, of Levitan Design Associates,
telling me about a series of posters on world's fairs, including particularly
one of the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair, that he has created as a result of
two years of research and work. They can be seen at
his website. One should click on
"posters." The one of chief interest is this:
The size is 25 1/2" x 38 1/2" on 100 lb. paper, and Mr. Levitan refers to it as "the only accurate full color aerial image of exactly what was there." From examining the original, I can say that it is the next best thing to being at the fair. This poster can be ordered for $40.00 plus $5.00 for shipping, from Levitan Design Associates, Inc., 39 West 29th St., 8th floor, New York, New York 10001. Up to three weeks should be allowed for delivery.
Return to top of this site
The October 16, 1998, New York Times obituary of radio announcer Tony Marvin, 86, mentions: "In 1937, he was hired by WNYC as the station's chief announcer and later was made the official 'voice' of the New York World's Fair."
Although not directly related to the NYWF, The New York Times of Nov. 8, 1998, has a story and link to The Triumph of Grand Central".
A November 17, 1998, communication:
I'm trying to find out where the Homer Laughlin China exhibit was exactly at
the 39/40 Fair.
A November 19, 1998, comunication:
My name Fred Peterson. I was a Visitor to the 64-65 NY World's Fair. I have a
lot of Memorabilia from time I visited. I was one of the 51 million that went
just before the Fair closed. There were 3 rolls of film shot during our visit. 2
were color and 1 black and white (the B&W ones were shot by me at 9 years old).
There are 65 in all (53 color & 12 black and white). There are also 3 1/2 reels
of 8mm film that was shot. I have 21 Post Cards (one is oversized) , and 3
Visitors Guides. Among them are the Formica "World's Fair House", the Sinclair "Dinoland",
and a NYC Transit Authority "World's Fair Subway Map". I also have a 7'' colored
vinyl record of "The Triumph of Man" from the Travelers Insurance Company. It
has the dialogue from the exhibit and a 6 page color cover. I also have the "NY
World's Fair Pictures" card set made by Ed-u-cards in the original box. The last
2 items are related items, a "Flintstones at the New York World's Fair" comic
book and a real 1964 New York State World's Fair license plate (# U-7444). All
are available, but not for sale. I would gladly scan the images and send them to
you. I could also send copies of the 8mm film on video and the audio from the
Travelers record. I also made a short video of my return to the Fair site in
1990. Half was accidentally erased, but about 20 mins exist, looking at what was
left of the Fair. If you are interested e-mail me at email@example.com.
In January 1999 I was informed of some very interesting sites, mostly new:
World's Fair Mania, containing links to sites dealing with world's fairs from 1851 to 2005.
Scouting at the World's Fair[s]
Images of the 1939-40 New York World's Fair
On March 5, 1999, I received the following from Calvin Keli Lunny, firstname.lastname@example.org:
My father using one on his movie business contacts was able to get my mother on television, back then she was a part-time model and dancer, age twenty. This appearance on television was performed in the first weeks of the earliest pioneer commercial/experimental television transmissions ever made. It is believed this was an RCA production. The broadcasts were between studios in Newark, NJ and the 1939 Worlds Fair in New York City, NY, it consisted of her and seven other dancers in ethnic Hungarian costumes. Two of the other dancers were her brother Joey Tulai and a sister Margie Tulai. They performed old county Hungarian dance routines. This troupe played for many charity event's during this period. It is said my father watched as my mother and her brothers danced, he was standing on a street sidewalk in New York City, he and others peered through a plate glass window into a store with a television set displayed to the public. The screen on this "TV" set was four inches wide. When asked if he see her face, his reply was no... however, he recognized her legs! . . .
What I am really searching for is a record of these television broadcasts.
A March 6, 1999, New York Times
review by Allan Kozinn begins:
Explorations of Paul Bowles, the early works of Leonard Bernstein and music of the 1939 World's Fair have shown Jonathan Sheffer and his Eos Orchestra to be both enterprising and serious, and having established that, the musicians let their hair down. In a program called "Out There," at the New York Society for Ethical Culture on Thursday evening, Sheffer offered weirdly humorous works by Ives, Gyorgy Ligeti and David del Tredici, and a sampling of Spike Jones's parodistic zaniness.
A March 11, 1999, message from Russ Wilkins, email@example.com:
Dear Alan, my grandmother passed away last year and my mother recovered an old desk lamp that was about to fall off the edge of g-ma's nightstand. It is a pink or rose colored lamp about 15 inches tall. It is on a glass stand and the top looks like the planet saturn, with ring. It also has the moon and stars all over the saturn globe. It still works perfectly and is very beautiful. My mother does not remember how g-ma got the lamp or any history of it. I have been told that it was called an "Art Deco 1939 Worlds Fair Saturn Lamp". I was wondering if you or anyone else could provide any info on this lamp, like who made them. The lamp is not for sale so I'm not looking for a value, but I told mother I would try to find out something about it before it drives her nuts. She does not remember going to the fair, but she would have been very young. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. FYI the lamp is now sitting on an antique buffet in my mother's living room in Abilene Kansas, Home of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Thank you for any assistance you can be. My mother and I eagerly await a reply.
An Apr. 7, 1999, message:
I am writing my master's thesis on the 1939 fair and would love to hear from people who attended about their impressions of the Democracity and Futurama exhibits. My study focuses on how these exhibits were a departure from previous fairs, especially in their use of multimedia techniques and their emphasis on controlled circulation. All correspondence appreciated.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
A message of April 25, 1999:
Dear Mr. Anderson,
I am a junior in high school researching "science, technology, and invention in American history" for a school project. I've become interested in the World's Fair, and am narrowing my focus to a specific event. I'd love to hear anything you or visitors to your site remember about new technologies displayed at the '39-'40 fair that you were particularly impressed by. Any information you could share with me would be appreciated. Thank you for your time.
An April 30, 1999, request:
Hello Mr. Anderson:
I am the associate producer for a History Channel documentary about the history of summer vacations entitled, "Are We There Yet? American Families on Vacation."
One of the sections of our documentary will focus on the 1933 Chicago Worlds Fair and the 1939 New York Worlds Fair. We plan to portray both fairs in a positive light and inform the public about the rich history of Worlds Fairs in general.
During my research, we ran across your helpful web page. Is is possible to get a message out to your viewers? We would very much appreciate any help they could give us with our documentary.
We are looking for individuals or families that have fond memories, HOME MOVIES and photos of their visits to Chicago and New York WORLDS FAIRS during 1930's. We are also looking for archival promotional films, historic photographs and other ephemera from the Fairs.
Also, if you could suggest any other archives, research materials or contacts in the WORLDS FAIR community -- I would appreciate it.
A brief description of our documentary project follows:
“Are We There Yet?: American Families on Vacation” is a 2-hour documentary special for the History Channel celebrating the American family’s historic passion for the Summer Vacation. Using first person interviews, home movies and family photo albums, scrapbooks and postcards, we’ll resurrect real summer vacations through the points of view of the families themselves with an eye to learning what the vacation meant to American culture from a social context. From the dude ranch to the Catskills resort, from the beach to WORLDS FAIRS, we’ll bring to life those unforgettable and often unexpected travel experiences from the 1920's through the end of the 1960's. “Are We There Yet?” will retrace the happy journey from getting there, to being there, to remembering.
Thank you very much.
Kevin Richard Lee
Two Roads Media
(212) 691-7851; fax (212) 337-8530
Another message on the memorable date of April 30, 1999, selected because it
was the 150th anniversary of the inauguration of George Washington:
Today is the 60th Anniversary of the Fair's opening day. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you for creating such a special website. It is so rewarding to read the letters that people send you. I hope the site keeps giving you pleasure to maintain.
I have included your website on my links page; I am currently working on a NYWF 39 web project that I hope you will find the time to visit. The primary mandate of the site is to recreate the Fair in Virtual Reality (VRML). To start, I have created a VR model of the Trylon and Perisphere that the visitor can walk around. It is possible to walk up the Helicline and on to the bridge and then look down into the reflecting pool. - - the only problem is that the VRML portion requires a plugin to be loaded beforehand...and the VRML file takes a while to download (a 3 meg file)....patience is required!
Anyway, the project is called "2039, the New York World's Fair revisited" and is located at:
Hope you will visit!
Keep up the great work.
April 30th, 1999
Each fair is given one link; that for the NYWF leads to Images from the '39 NY World's Fair.
On May 29 and 30, 1999, I received from George Daleo, email@example.com, messages that I have combined and slightly abridged as follows:
I was 4 and 5 years old when I enjoyed the Fair. My family had season ticket
books each year (those little tickets used each time for admission). We lived in
East Elmherst so it was a short trip. I still vividly remember many of the Fair
Also remember we stayed many nights to see the brilliant fireworks.
I forgot to tell you that at one time I had some of the cars (the little ones) which ran on a track that were used in the GM display. My father knew a man that worked for GM at the fair. I sure wish I could find them now.
On August 21, 1999, Martin Packer notified me of his impressive The Festival of Britain site, which contains information on the royal visit to THE FAIR, as well as a link to the World's Fairs Collectors Society, P.O. Box 20806, Sarasota, FL 34276-3806 (WFCS@AOL.COM).
The Sept. 26, 1999, Travel section of The Boston Sunday Globe, has a
Jon Marcus article titled "Yesterday's tomorrow," about the site of the 1939 and
1964 fairs. In part, it says:
Now, after seven years of renovations, the Flushing Meadows park foreseen in 1939 has finally emerged. Better yet, it has incorporated many of the most familiar elements from both world's fairs, whose layouts - their roads and plazas - and a surprising number of their landmark buildings, fountains, sculptures, even exhibitions, had been left intact, preserved less by intention than neglect. Amazing structures rise from the Queens landscape, many of them newly restored or under reconstruction: rocket ships and heliports, huge lighted fountains, amphitheaters, and the freshly fashionable abstract metal Unisphere, polished to a youthful shine.
Crossing the original wooden boardwalk built to carry visitors from the elevated station, you can imagine the Trylon and Perisphere, the central symbol of the 1939 World's Fair, down the Avenue of Commerce and across the Court of Nations . . .
Last year the museum [which had a $15 million renovation in 1994, and has a gift shop with memorabilia] added scale models of 13 pavilions from the 1939 fair built by a Flushing man who roamed the grounds and collected bricks from structures that had been demolished.
It is not clear whether any 1939 building but the New York City Building, later to house the UN General Assembly and now a museum largely dealing with the fairs, survives. It is open Wed. through Fri., 10 to 5; Sat. and Sun. 12 to 5. The suggested donation is $4 for adults and $2 for children. For information call 718-760-6565. The Hall of Science (the Hall of Education of the 1964 fair) is open Mon. through Wed. 9:30 to 2, and Thurs. through Sun. 9:30 to 5. Two "trolleys" go from the Willets Point/Shea Stadium IRT subway station to the attractions Fri. through Sun. 10 to 6. For information call 718-699-0005. The cost is $1 for unlimited one-day use.
If anyone has personal knowledge of any of this, it would be welcome here.
On Oct 27, 1999, I received the following message:
I am interested in any photos or memorabilia someone may have in connection with television at the 1939 Fair. Please have them contact me at SKosareff@aol.com. In particular I am looking for "You have been televised" card from the RCA exhibit. Thank you.
Obviously, the rest of us also would appreciate receiving such information.
On Nov. 4, 1999, I received the following:
Thanks so much for maintaining your terrific site-I hope you can find the time to keep it up for all of us world's fair devotees. I wanted to report that a few years ago I republished the original, advance edition catalogue of Licensed Merchandise from the 1939 World's Fair. It contains an 18 page index of the original licensees, organized by product type, and full page ads by over 60 companies, with pictures and detailed descriptions of the merchandise. It's a great research tool and I love seeing all the stuff---although unbelievably just a small portion of what ultimately was produced!. When I found a deteriorating copy of the original in the NY Public Library, I had them microfiche it for me before they discarded it(SOB!)--and years later I published this book (in black and white) from the microfiche. If anyone's interested in ordering, they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again for a wonderful site. Judy LaPook
On Nov. 7, 1999, I received the following:
Dear Mr. Anderson,
Just discovered your site on The 1939-40 New York World's Fair. It brought back a lot of memories for me. Thanks for the time you spent in constructing this site.
I was not fortunate to visit the 1939-40 World's Fair but I had an uncle who did. He brought back a spoon for his 2 nieces and 1 nephew. They are all different but we have kept them and treasured them all of these years.
Nowhere have I been able to find out more about them. Mine had a picture of the Food Exhibition Building and on the handle near the top it has, under the date, Theme Building. On the back it has Wm. Rogers Mfg. Company. The other two spoons have different pictures. We have not been able to find these shown or listed. Would you have any idea where we could find more information on these?
These were special because they were from an Uncle who we did not see often. We were just a farming family in Central Ohio and so these spoons were precious gifts for us. I was born in 1931, my brother in 1928, and my sister in 1926. Amazing that we have held on to them for so long. Thank you for any consideration you give this email. Velma (Dotson) Scott
On Nov. 14, 1999, I received the following:
Dear Alan, I'm hoping that you can lead me to the answer of a question that is rather important to me about the 1939 NY World's Fair. I am a fan of the fair and also of the poet Alan Ginsberg. There is a much-published photograph of him with his mother and father posing at the base of one of the hugh sculptures called "The Four Freedoms". I am trying to find out which one of the freedoms this particular statue depicts. It is a giant male figure, with one hand raised towards his mouth as he calls out into the air. He is standing on some sort of bulbous base which is surrounded by other figures. It is the only one of the four statues that has such a cloud-like base surrounded by other figures. If you stood at the Trilon and Perishpere and looked down the pond toward the four figures, this would be on the left, behind another. I believe that the calling-out pose of the figure could make it "Freedom of Speech", or the collection of figures at the base could make it "Freedom of Assembly". I wonder if there is a source that could answer this for me definitively -- or perhaps this is an elementary fair question that you could answer with ease. I would greatly appreciate any help you can give me. Thanks in advance, Marvin Schneider email@example.com
On Dec. 13, 1999, after receiving an earlier message from Ruud de Lange,
firstname.lastname@example.org, of Maassluis, Holland, requesting that I contact the writer
of a Sept. 1, 1998, message, in the hope that the manual to which he referred
might contain relevant information, and being unable to contact that writer, I
received the following summary:
Thank you for answering my request for more information about the Dutch/Netherlands pavillion at the NYWF'39.
I am presently writing the history of the Company I used to work for. I say "used to work for' because I have been retired since 1995, and know the company quite well, as I have worked there for more than 25 years. The company built and supplied 2 displays, most probably to be exhibited at the Netherlands pavillion, not in the hall of Fame, which I understand was the commercial part of the show.
One display was a cone type of thing, about 3 feet high, which illustrated the Dutch democratic way of government, so the Queen on top, below her the Parlement, and so on down with the various layers of responsibility untill the "people "at the bottom.
The other display was a rather large model of the netherlands, which showed the continuous struggle against the sea. This model actually worked by immersing part of the country every now and then, which was programmed. This display was returned to Holland and arrived just before the putbreak of the war in April '40. Since then it was on show at a permanent exhibition here and I actually saw it working inthe early nineties. It has been scrapped in 1992.
What more can I tell you?
Yes please put it on the web: maybe someone can tell me something more detailed about the Dutch pavillion in general or "our" displays in particular.
Thanks and regards
On Dec. 16, 1999, I received:
I enjoyed your website, for your information I am a drilling and boring
contrator currently doing subsurface investigations at and on the old
ampitheater site. As you know the structures on the deck have been demolished
but the decking and pool still remain. Also many of the old pumps and piping are
still intact.The Parks dept. currently wants to cap the structure with soil
building a new playground on top.Would you know of any full size pictures of the
original aquacade? Or any info on this specific subject? My e-mail address is
On Dec. 19, 1999:
Alan , feel free to post my e-mail on your site, as a footnote we are currently excavating the old monorail footings that are located in the area, they are interested in the condition of the original pilings for use in the new playground foundation. Paul
On Jan. 4, 2000, in response to my invitation for an update:
Hi Alan, just completed last round of soil borings at the site. It looks like construction may begin as soon as this spring. This project is being funded and parks is in a rush to begin so they don't lose the funding. From what I hear more pilings are going to be sunk and the exsiting deck is going to be capped with soil. This is more economical than tearing down the complete deck.If I get a layout of the new playground I'll scan it and e-mail you .I will keep you updated on the progress, Paul
On December 25, 1999, I received the following:
I thought of your web site when I read the following story in the Los Angeles Times. I thought it was important to get noted that the 1939 World's Fair influenced a long-running television series.
I was furious though that the story referred to the fair as the 1936 World's Fair. I write for both the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post and hoped and thought at least one editor would catch the mistake.
This is such a busy time of the year for me. Hopefully I will have time to write soon about how the 1939 World's Fair is part of my memories, even though I was born in 1961.
P. S. You may share this with everyone on your web site.
Saturday, December 25, 1999
What'll 21st Century Be Like? 'The Jetsons' Television: Space-age animated family got many things right, enough to merit a marathon on Cartoon Network.
By SCOTT MOORE, Washington Post
Everything you need to know about the future can be learned from quarter-century-old episodes of "The Jetsons."
And come New Year's Eve, the 1962 visionaries of the future are going to party like it's 1999.
Cartoon Network gives Hanna-Barbera's animated series its due with a millennium celebration that stretches from 10 a.m. Thursday to midnight Friday.
Michael Lazzo, the cable network's senior vice president of programming and production, cites "The Jetsons" as one of the most referenced shows in television: "People tend to use 'The Jetsons' as society's technological milepost, and it's amazing how accurate the show was in predicting the different gadgets that have actually come into existence."
For those who have been on another planet, "The Jetsons" was the 21st century equivalent of "The Flintstones."
* * *
Heading this middle-class family of the future was George, a well-meaning but occasionally bumbling Everyman (voiced by George O'Hanlon) who worked for a hot-headed boss at Spacely Space Age Sprockets. Jane, his wife, kept the Sky Pad together and dealt with the problems of teeny-bopper daughter Judy and their boy Elroy. Adding comedy were dog Astro--whose speech was dominated by Rs--and literal but efficient robot maid Rosie.
During its original 24-episode run on ABC's Sunday night lineup, "The Jetsons" was prophetic in its depictions of future life. (The 41 episodes made in 1984-85 and the 10 in 1987 can only be praised for their effect on sweetening the series' attractiveness for syndication and eventual run in perpetuity on Cartoon Network.)
It was much easier to draw moving sidewalks, video telephones, tanning machines, oxygen bars, wrist televisions, talking computers and online news and gambling sites than to invent them. But producer Joe Barbera said the gadgets used on the show were designed to solve everyday problems. "We thought of ways to make our everyday lives easier and to create what we thought was a better lifestyle," Barbera said in a Cartoon Network interview.
The Jetsons' Sky Pad Apartments--housing 2,000 tenants and sporting a sky lawn--were based on remnants of the 1936 World's Fair in New York City. "I saw round buildings kind of on a pedestal," Barbera said. "I decided to add hydraulics to the pedestal so you could lift the apartment above the smog of clouds into the fresh, clean air."
"The Jetsons" also had a few harbingers of doom: "buttonitis," a forebear of carpal tunnel syndrome, and "the Uniblab," an electronic surveillance system to monitor employees' work habits.
Of course, that was a three-hour workday. Whatever happened to that idea?
Copyright 1999 Los Angeles Times
A Feb. 16, 2000, message:
I am writing for information about steam locomotive #169 which was supposedly part of an exhibit at the 1939-40 world's Fair.
The Alamosa Chamber of Commerce is the proud owner of narrow gauge Engine 169, built in 1881 for the D&RG. We have local newspaper accounts of the engine being refurbished at the Denver shops and of it reurning to retire here.
I'd like to know if people have photos, memorablia, memories, etc. of the 169. We are preparing to restore her to operation so any help we can get with her story will be greatly appreciated. I can be contacted as follows:
Mail: Holly Y. Felmlee, Exec. Dir.
Alamosa, CO 81101
phone: (719) 589-3681, ext. 103
fax: (719) 589-1773
Thanks for the help! I look forward to hearing from folks.
A reference to the parachute jump that was at THE FAIR. The paper version of the article is accompanied by a photograph of the area, including the parachute jump; the online version includes an artist's rendition of the proposed stadium with the parachute jump at the far end.
March 2, 2000, New York Times:
Yet Another New Stadium, if Giuliani Has His Way
By CHARLES V. BAGLI
In Coney Island, the steel skeleton of the Parachute Jump stands like a 250-foot-tall grave marker to bygone glory. On Staten Island, a muddy parking lot sits at the water's edge next to the dilapidated St. George ferry terminal.
In each place, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani wants to build a publicly financed minor league baseball stadium: a $31 million ballpark in Brooklyn for the Mets and a $71 million complex on Staten Island for the Yankees. . . .
A message received Mar. 5, 2000:
My name is Andrew Maltz, My company Amaltz Designs restores, and mfrg custom made decorative hardware: Through the trade a company from CA. called and asked if I would be interested restoring the ticket booth from the 1939 worlds fair:
I said yes, last Monday and we are about to work on it starting tommorow.3/7/00 My facility has a complete in house polishing, plating, maching,& fabricating: I have been known to take unusual job: enough said about me:
Would you by any chance have a photo of the ticket booth: of course I have taken photo's, and will do so thru the restoration, but seeing what it did look like originally would be interesting.
I forgot to mention that the unit is made of wood, clad in aluminum: and we are going to polish, and repair the dents . . . Thank you
Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 18:58:11 -0500 From: Franklin Jones
Date: Sun, 09 Apr 2000 12:48:19 -0400 From: Susan Grunmeier
On April 18, 2000, I learned that this site is quoted, without exact identification, by A. E. Jeffcoat, in his book, Spirited Americans: A Commentary on America's Optimists--From the Puritans to the Cyber-Century. (Bainbridge Island, WA: Winslow House Books, 2000, pp. 178-79):
Probably the most inspiring metaphor for hope in the future during the latter part of the thirties was The New York World's Fair in 1939 and 1940, with its theme, "The World of Tomowwow". Even though the depression still lingered and the flame of war was licking at Europe, this great fair embodied dreamlike optimism and an almost childlike belief in the perfectibility of modern life. "To go to this fair was to have your life changed forever," wrote the site's creator, a professor of philosophy in Milton, Massachusetts.
At this point I received at least two inquiries that I was going to post here, but I had various computer difficulties. If those who requested these postings would contact me, giving them again, I would be glad to post them now.
On August 16, 2000, I received the following query:
After my curosity got the best of me, I finally went to the net to see if anyone who attended the 1939 W. Fair saw the booth from the state of New Hampshire?
My husband's father was the artist there and it would be interesting to know if anyone has a painting done by Bertram C. Mason or perhaps met him at the fair.
He died when my husband was 13, so any memontoes would be wonderful or conversation. Thank you. - Joan Mason, Joanymason@aol.com
On Oct. 22, 2000, CM Publishing notfied me:
We wanted to let you know of Miles Beller's article ["The Day Tomorrow Died"] about the end of the 1939-40 New York World's Fair [closed Oct. 27, 1940] running in The City section of today's New York Times. Mr. Beller recently wrote a novel about the Fair, DREAM OF VENUS (OR LIVING PICTURES).
On Nov. 16, 2000, I received the following:
My twin sisters, Judith and Emily, were born prematurely in June of 1939. Being the only source of support for the family, my mother did not have the wherewithal to pay the cost of incubators. Her doctor asked her if she would be willing to put them on exhibit in the Fair. The incubators would be free and she would get some free baby food etc. And so she did. Both sisters are alive and well today and both have little silver cups with their names and the Trylon & Perisphere inscribed. My mother told me that each day when she got home from work we would make the trek to the Fair, to visit the twins, which was not easy in those days, as we lived in downtown Brooklyn. I was 18 months old at the time, so obviously I don't recall it. Many times in the fifties I tried to persuade her to try and get on "What's My Line" but she never did.
R. L. Barr
On Dec. 5, 2000, I received the following question:
Have you ever seen any detailed publication or writing about the Town of Tomorrow, a layout of experimental homes designed for the Worlds Fair? Maybe this question could go on your site, as an open request for info. You are welcome to give my email address for people to contact if you email@example.com.
In February 2001, I received word of a CD containing 271 photographs from the 1939 NYWF, from PM Photo & Computer Service, PO Box 2681, Sparks, NV 89432-2681, for $19.95 plus $5.00 shipping and handling. I bought a copy, and am delighted that I did.
Art Hofman sent me, on March 4, 2001, a link to a model train exhibit in relation to the 1939 fair, at the Eli Whitney Museum. The museum also has material of interest to those of us who remember the A. C. Gilbert company.
On April 28, 2001, I received the following:
Just thought you'd like to know that the World's Fair got into some regular
comic books of the time, as well as having special editions. All-American #18
included a Green Lantern story explicitly set at the New York World's Fair, and
several of the attractions, including the Marine Transportation exhibit, found
their way into the background. The story climaxes with a hand-to-hand fight on
top of the Perisphere!
For those who can't afford original Golden Age comics, the story was reprinted in the Golden Age Green Lantern Archives.
The May 14, 2001, New York Times has a story, Visions of Olympic Glory in New York, about a proposal for the 2012 Olympics, with illustrations, one of which has the caption, "Meadow Lake and Willow Lake in Queens, created for the 1939 orld's Fair, would be joined in a $164 million center for rowing, canoeing and kayaking."
I received the folowing on May 31, 2001:
31st May 2001. Mr and Mrs G.S. Gieg
#6-1330 Markham Road,Winnipeg, Manitoba,Canada,R3T4E5.
E-Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Mr Anderson.
My great uncle Leland Abbott(Eskimo Abbott),with Hector Despins of The Pas,Manitoba,drove a team of 7 sled-dogs from Northern Manitoba to the 1939 New York World's Fair. They drove on snow as far as St.Paul,Minnesota, where they switched the sleds to runner for rubber car tires. They sold photographs of trapping and wildlife along the way to help pay for their trip. In addition, they received funding from Ducks Unlimited and a dog food company. they arrived some days ahead of the April 30th 1939 opening day.
We believe from current research that they carried with them back to Winnipeg greetings from the Mayor - Mr Fiorella Le Guardia in 1940 of New York to the Mayor of Winnipeg Mr John Queen.
We further believe that they received a lot of amazement from onlookers on their way to the fair. In further research it is stated that they read somewhere whilst on a summer trip to Churchill - North West Territories - about persons bicycling to the Fair and that others were walking a great distance - and they thought that they would be different and they decided to take a team of dogs to the Fair.
Does anyone have any information as to which publication that write up appeared in prior to the 1939 World Fair. These two gentlemen when they undertook this expedition were aged 30 and 23 respectively at that time.
The two gentlemen further said that they hoped to get jobs in one of the shows in the Fair's amusement zone, but stayed to see the Fair anyway.
My wife Anne and I are researching a book on Leland and Hector's trip to the Fair and their experiences with the dogs and the people they met enroute to the Fair. I would like to ask you and your readers for any information,photographs or recollections that may have about these adventurers.
We can be reached at the above given address and telephone number.
Thank you very much for your time and understanding.
Mr and Mrs Graham Gieg.
On June 1, 2001, Peter Dekany, of Hungary, notified me:
I thought you might be interested about movie clips that could be found at. ( In the case you didn't know about it.) http://www.archive.org/movies/
Many great color films can be found here related to the FAIR.
I received the following on June 18, 2001:
I just stumbled on your site by accident - wow - great site. I am 41 years
old and obviously have no recollection of the 1939 worlds fair. However I recall
seeing the PBS documentary "World of Tomorrow" many years ago and being somewhat
fascinated with it. I am currently working on a documentary film here in
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada about the great Dance Halls of Lake Winnipeg -
Winnipeg Beach and Grand Beach, the "Moonlight " trains, the rollercoaster(which
by the way was designed by arthur jarvis of Coney Island fame), the amusement
park etc etc. So far we have collected over 800 photographs and 12 minutes of
old 8mm film footage as well as memorabilia from the Dance Halls. If any of your
many visitors have any information of either Dance Hall (Winnipeg Beach
1902-1967) (Grand Beach 1915-1950) or stories of the Moonlight trains etc.
please send them our way. Thanks for your time and keep up the great work!!!!
P.S. Have you ever thought of contacting one of the Burn's brothers Ken or Ric about possibly suggesting to them a new documentary in thier amazing style on the 1939 worlds fair- i think that would be simply wonderful. Have you ever seen Ric Burns film "Coney Island" on PBS??? Not to mention Ken Burns "Civil War" "Baseball" "The West" "Jazz" or Ric Burns " The Donner Party" "The Way West" "New York".
Received on Oct. 24, 2001:
Many thanks for creating & maintaining the 1939-40 NY World's Fair site! I am gathering details on the Parachute Jump and would like to hear from anyone who rode it and can remember the experience. As the NYWF parachute jump was later operated at Coney Island, one's experience on it need not be limited to a ride at the fair. I'd appreciate a message fom anyone who rode it at Coney as well.
Thanks again for all you have done, and continue to do, to maintain this site!
Latest update Aug. 20, 2002. This update is far from complete. My thanks to all who have supplied material that has made this site vastly more valuable than if it contained nothing but my recollections, and my apologies to people who have supplied information that I have failed to include. If you have sent anything that you would like to see here, or have contacted me about anything and have not received a reply, please try again. Perhaps I'll find more time for tending this little project than I have in the past. I have so many other pages (most of them linked to New Thought Movement Home Page) that none gets enough attention.