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bobster1985

Opening day from the air

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Classic media account of the fairs, saying that the public was "bored" with pre-fair hype so stayed away in droves. I do agree that many stayed away if it was projected that a million would attend opening day! With that prediction, I would have waited a little while to let the dust settle before I went, too.

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The geometry from the air shows the brilliant work of the design board. It is stunning.

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And Opening Day 1940:

 

 

Opening Day 1940 NYWF Raw - Copy.jpg

On 8/20/2014 at 5:40 PM, bobster1985 said:

I just realized that the Trylon/Perisphere was a gigantic sundial! They could have put numbers on the perisphere. :)

Hello, I just saw this. This would not function as a sundial. By afternoon the Trylon shadow was a tight coil facing George Washtngton.

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The 1939-40 NYWF is memorable for many reasons, but its design and adherence to theme may be its greatest achievement.  The geometry of design was everywhere. The photograph is wonderful.  

The Federal Building was enormous.  The "American Common" is visible--where the USSR pavilion stood.  In the distance the 1939 Maritime pavilion somehow looks forlorn.  I don't believe the building was used in 1940 although I am open to correction on this.

Wow, I just hit 5,000 posts.  Did I mention I truly enjoy and respect this web site and its members?

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Hi Jim,

Congrats on 5,000! That is one post per year for the Time Capsule :)

I forgot to post words with the photo - yes, American Common, and yes, Maritime in 1940 was moved to the Communications building (you can tell by the altered facade in 1940 - more doors (not visible here)). The area in front of the Federal Building (the Court of Nations?) is HUGE. Speaking of HUGE - click on the image ;)

I just did and was rather surprised. I accidentally uploaded the raw unrestored full size file! Westinghouse has its new tower, Gas pylons are red and not white, the Goddess of Perfection is atop Heinz, DuPont is painted...I wanted to find a 1940 feature NOT in place yet and I did - there is no information booth at the center of The Great Compass!

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Thank you, Eric.

The Court of Peace was massive.  That entire area of the 1939 Fair was a parking lot in 1964.  When the photo is enlarged, so much detail is revealed.  Little things appear such as no splashing fountains operating around the Perisphere.  I never noticed the jets shooting water into the Lagoon of Nations (on either end of the oval) and it's clear that the GW statue was enormous.  The crowds are impressive as well.  The place is packed from Theme Center, along Constitution Mall and into the Court of Peace.

This provides a good view of the rear of the Federal Building.  Do you know what was in that semi-circular portion of the building with the courtyard and fountain?

The huge flags which I believe are of France and Belgium whipped by the wind are poignant.  It was May of 1940, and by month's end, both nations were occupied by the Germans.

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Hi Jim,

That's right, Court of Peace. The back of the Federal was a small sort of courtyard with some trees and a mounted bust of FDR, or Churchill depending when you went. I have a color slide of this being demolished. I can't find that - so here it is in b/w during happier times - this is looking away from the main building.

 

Rear Federal Fountains.jpg

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Amazing, Eric.  What a cool glimpse into the past.  I have never know much about the Federal Buildings interior.  It was the completion of the axis from the Theme Center.  The Court of Peace, flanked by many of the participating national pavilions,  provided an important gathering place for all sorts of ethnic and international celebrations events.  I've sometimes thought Place des Nations served a similar role at Expo 67.  

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Were any members of the design board also associated with the 1936 film version of "Things to Come?"  A few of the buildings seem like were designed by the same people.

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1 hour ago, speedwell said:

Were any members of the design board also associated with the 1936 film version of "Things to Come?"  A few of the buildings seem like were designed by the same people.

Well, not that I know of but this design style was not quite new, and since 1925 various types of these arrangements of shapes and space were being toyed with especially in the Beaux movement and related sketches. Add in the desire for simplicity and "streamlining" (exterior mostly - nothing was really "new" - seeing the modern GM Futurama in wood and lathe is an eye opener, or the "re-skinned" S-1 train), a penchant for the Pythagorean shapes and the likelihood those involved saw that film...the basic Fair Corporation structures were already in planning stages in 1936. One look at the Westinghouse mural above Motoman shows a clear influence. On the other hand, the 1939 was more about what was already happening and possible, not a huge amount about 'things to come" despite the dioramas, rocket transport (essentially the same since 1944 Goddard to 1969 Von Braun and beyond) and all. War in 1940 was a good "guess" in that film, and it goes until 2036 - 3 years shy of the World of Tomorrow in Democracity which is very interesting. I also want to mention a style of architectural rendering called a maquette (along with simple watercolor elevations) that lends itself to this design style - in just one scene of Things to Come I see many apparent references - the drawing for GM among them. Also certain materials - lucite, glass bricks, more...thses also played a part in the appearance. See Museum of the City of New York Designing Tomorrow (?) catalog from 1989 or so - much will be seen there as well and some of those renderings do look like Things to Come. Everytown in the film certainly looks like a lot of Europe in just a few years time.

I'm sure Jim and others will have a good amount to say as well.

I must also point out "what influenced what?"  - look at the following. I might guess they all have common predecessors. I recall a drawing of heaven from about 1851 that showed spheres and tall spires.

 


 

Tomorrow 1929-2036.jpg

 

to come 2.jpg

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17 hours ago, magikbilly said:

And Opening Day 1940:

 

 

Opening Day 1940 NYWF Raw - Copy.jpg

Hello, I just saw this. This would not function as a sundial. By afternoon the Trylon shadow was a tight coil facing George Washtngton.

Is that lower left corner where the bomb killed the policemen?

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All the above images except those of the actual fair strike me as illustrations of a typical failure of architecture - producing monumental photographs and magazine covers, but absolutely horrific if turned into reality. Who would want to live with the sky blotted out everywhere by overhead highways? The fair of course was much more reasonable in providing the open vistas for appreciation of the architecture. 

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Hi Randy,

Was that not behind Poland (opposite side so to speak)? I think the bomb was taken around Great Britain and then went off behind Poland. I recall selling photographs of the damage and the resulting funeral etc.

5 hours ago, waynebretl said:

All the above images except those of the actual fair strike me as illustrations of a typical failure of architecture - producing monumental photographs and magazine covers, but absolutely horrific if turned into reality. Who would want to live with the sky blotted out everywhere by overhead highways? The fair of course was much more reasonable in providing the open vistas for appreciation of the architecture. 

I agree Wayne, I was just trying to place a space and time on a style in the arts and design at the time.

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Eric, I think you are right about that explosion in 1940.  The bomb was removed from the UK pavilion and vicinity and, I thought, taken to what would be the right of the photograph somewhere in the area behind Poland down toward the League of Nations.  We had some great "then and now" photos of this site several years ago.  The actual spot on the perimeter roadway was located.  The location would not appear in this photograph.

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7 minutes ago, Jim said:

Eric, I think you are right about that explosion in 1940.  The bomb was removed from the UK pavilion and vicinity and, I thought, taken to what would be the right of the photograph somewhere in the area behind Poland down toward the League of Nations.  We had some great "then and now" photos of this site several years ago.  The actual spot on the perimeter roadway was located.  The location would not appear in this photograph.

That, and it had not happened yet!

19 hours ago, Jim said:

"That entire area of the 1939 Fair was a parking lot in 1964. " - Jim

"You could fit the 1939 Fair in a 1964 parking lot!" - Moses, roughly paraphrased.  Hmm, 600-odd compared to 1200+? I guess I'm not a visionary LOL (I am not hallucinating either). ;)

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Good point, although it would not appear anyway.  The explosion killed two men but didn't leave massive destruction or anything like that.

More to the point, Mr. Moses actually said that?  What point was he making other than the 1964 Fair needed more parking space because everybody was driving huge cars on his expressways.  I suspect he loved parking lots almost as much as he loved highways.

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Hi Jim,

Moses said the 1939 Fair could fit into a 1964 WF parking lot.  That the '64 Fair was much bigger/better. It is some video tape/interview. I always remember it because it is simply and factually ridiculous. The '64 in comparison looked like some cheap trade tent-fair. Sorry - but I said it before and folks grudgingly agreed. The ....the design of the Theme Center...The Astronomer looking toward...oh. I know you know

Washington NBM did not know which monograph to publish. Monkeys. Like the staff at the QM who did not know where the QM even is...

I do not advocate the QM museum. I used to sell them 1939 souvenirs for the visitors to be able to purchase sanely priced 1939 memorabilia. Until I found they quadrupled (or more) the prices they had me label. It is bittersweet - to sell items in that 1939 WF building, only to have that happen.

In a semi-relevant quote from musical performance artist Laurie Anderson: "...and all the girls in town were named....Betty..."

 

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The 1939 Fair had the landscape design, architectural styles and overall theme that combined to make it look as if it could (and should) last forever.  Those guys dreamed big in the Thirties.  Yes, I totally agree with your comments, Eric.  

I've sometimes thought that the 1939 Fair had a goal similar to the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.  That was to present a city in perfect completion.  While NY's Fifth Avenue, as it headed north turned from paved to dirt and Chicago's new skyscrapers were often covered in coal soot and southern parts of the city reeked with the stench of the stock yards, the Columbian presented streets paved from end to end, landscaped gardens, street lighting, fountains, grassy parks and pristine white buildings.  New York had a similar 1939 objective.  The 1939 documentary film, "The City," directed and photographed by Ralph Steiner and Willard Van Dyke, was shown at the Fair.  It highlighted the stunning urban poverty exacerbated by the endless Great Depression.  Scenes of worn and weathered houses, kids playing in muddy and filthy streets, factories belching thick, black smoke, gritty and dreary streets devoid of trees; the film asks:  "Who built this place?  Why is it this way?  Must it be this way?"  The film then contrasts all of this with scenes of Greenbelt, Maryland, a planned community built in 1935 by the US Resettlement Administration, a New Deal agency.

Art Deco style homes and offices, grassy parks, playgrounds, well lighted paved roads crossing charming stone arched bridges, kids riding bicycles, trees everywhere, a modern school, and even art deco styled busses that resembled street transportation one might find at the '39Fair; all of this showed what city planners could accomplish.  Greenbelt was living proof of what the Fair planners hoped to achieve.

And they did and, as a result, had little difficulty in presenting through their theme that the Fair really was the world of tomorrow.

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Good heavens! I was going to mention The City! I have been to Greenbelt. We are on the same page in the same book! :) I agree re 1893 - Winslow Homer's painting of this shows this shining new idea you have so eloquently expressed.  

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