Ny World's Fair 1939-1940

Topics: 1939 New York World's Fair, World War II, Fair Pages: 12 (4965 words) Published: October 14, 2008
The 1930’s were a time when social changes were happening at a much faster pace than in recent years passed. The fair culture of America was also changing. It was sort of evolving into what was to become an unrecognizable creation, both in the physical sense and the ideological sense. The fairs of the 1930’s however, while being the first time in history where we see large additions of amusement without purpose, as in today’s massive regional amusement parks. The old splendor of educational dioramas and panoramas of lands in the four corners of the earth was quickly disappearing.

The 1939-1940 World’s Fair, held in Flushing Meadows, was undoubtedly the flagship fair, escorting out the traditions of the past and harmonizing the remaining ones with a new kind of spectacle that included rides and used nudity abundantly to attract attention. The 1939 fair was not the first to begin incorporating some of the new attractions or building techniques. However, it did take the successes of the previous nine or so years and used them collectively and on a much larger scale than ever before.

The first great World’s Fair of the 1930’s was first thought about around 1923 and was officially in the planning since late 1927. It was to be Chicago hosting its second World’s Fair and was given the unconvincing working name, “Chicago’s Second World’s Fair.” A three mile strip of land bordering Lake Michigan, only a quarter of a mile wide, was chosen as the site of the second fair. The fair’s board of directors decided to stray from the traditional historical theme to focus more on man’s recent giant strides in the sciences. This led to the choosing of the much more appealing name “A Century of Progress” in June 1929. Four months later, in October 1929, the stock market crashed. As the fair was already in its second year of planning, the board of directors took the road of continuing preparations to hold the fair in 1933, Chicago’s one hundred year anniversary. The men on this board of directors were from various parts of society, each one more influential in his field than the next. The chairman of the board was an obscenely wealthy oil tycoon and banker named Rufus Dawes. Not only was he able to help financially, but he also had tremendous political pull by way of his brother. Charles G. Dawes was the vice president under Calvin Coolidge for the first two years of the fair’s planning. The plethora of connections that were available to the fair’s planners because of this greatly helped the fair idea become reality in the face of increasingly deteriorating economic conditions. However, they did not choose to request any direct government subsidization for fair costs. This allowed the government to dedicate one million dollars to the United States pavilion. The board of directors chose instead to raise money by creating an organization called the “Chicago World’s Fair Legion”, which raised awareness about the fair as well as $634,000 through the sale of memberships. In addition to private fund-raising, the board raised money publicly by issuing $10 million in bonds that were to be paid back with interest. Unfortunately, because of the severity of the economic situation, the relative longevity of the problem, and only modest profits, some of the bonds were never able to be paid. There were also some smaller additions to the fundraising, including the sale of concessionary contracts, which all together amounted to approximately $6 million. This fair was beginning to see an increased corporate presence, something rarer in previous fairs, but becoming more and more common as the decade went on. The New York World’s Fair at the end of the decade was the pinnacle in that sense. After fundraising, the next task to be conquered was to plan the layout of the fairgrounds. To better accomplish this, the board appointed a team of architects to tackle the challenge of what the fair would look like. One of the major obstacles faced by the...
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