22 June 2009

Postcards Gallery I: New York World's Fair, 1939-1940

The New York World's Fair (NYWF) of 1939-1940 was the largest such fair of all time, covering 1,216 acres in the city's Flushing Meadows-Corona Park district. With a futuristic theme summed up in the slogan 'Dawn of a New Day', the NYWF opened on 30 April 1939 with a speech by then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt which was broadcast nationally over radio and, locally, on NBC's New York television station.

Innovations which made their debut at the NYWF included colour photography, nylon, air conditioning, and the View-Master. Among the numerous exhibits was the 36,000 square foot 'Futurama', a General Motors-sponsored 'city of the future', depicting huge suburbs and extensive automated highways in 1959-1960.

The fair grounds were organised by theme, and included zones devoted to transportation, communications and business systems, food, and government, among others. The various themed and national pavillions featured cutting-edge architecture, design, and materials, the architects having been encouraged by sponsors to be daring and experimental. The buildings were arrayed around the Theme Centre, consisting of the two iconic structures of the NYWF, the 700 foot tall Trylon and the spherical Perisphere, in which visitors were treated to a scale model of the city of the future.

The NYWF finally closed on 27 October 1940. Although it attracted 45 million vistors and has become an iconic example of a world's fair, it was a financial disaster, recouping only $48 million of the $67 million invested by the NYWF Corporation and $100+ million invested by sponsors and exhibitors.

The MoMI holds four unused original postcards purchased at the NYWF in 1940 and displayed below. The value of each is estimated at US$5.00.

The front of the postcard for the Aviation Building.

The reverse of the Aviation Building postcard.

The front of the postcard for the Cosmetics Building.

The reverse of the Cosmetics Building postcard.

The front of the postcard for the Hall of Fashion.

The reverse of the Hall of Fashion postcard.

The front of the postcard for the British Pavilion.

The reverse of the British Pavilion postcard.

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