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Flag poles

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Can someone give me some info on the 2 flag poles from the 1939 worlds fair that flank the pool of industry? Thanks Steve

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They are ‘Art Deco’ flagpoles left from the 1939 Fair; however, they were located northeast of their present location. This is the official story…

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I had heard that the German stylized eagles were holding wreaths that encircled nazi swazstikas. And, the wreaths were removed. I don't know if that is correct or a park myth.

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Steve & Mary Ellen -- I heard the rumor about those Nazi flagpoles too, but here's the real scoop...

Took out my handy-dandy 1940 New York World's Fair Guidebook and found a fairly complete listing of all the sculptures and murals commissioned by the Fair. Sure enough on page 130 I found the following listing:

Lagoon of Nations: "Flagpole Finials" -- figure of an eagle surmounting a sphere. Sculpture by Robert Foster.

I did a quick Google on Foster and found out he was a NY-based artist (1895-1982) who worked as a sculptor and painter. His work was mentioned in several books including "American Eagle in Art and Design" by Clarence Pearson Hornung (1978).

So, the flagpoles did not come from Nazi Germany (as rumored) but were commissioned by the Fair from New York artist Robert Foster who (apparently) based his design on the good ol' American Eagle.

It is still one of the few surviving artworks from the 1939 World's Fair!

By the way, Steve -- enjoyed meeting you at the Forgotten NY tour!

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post-805-1211593109_thumb.jpgThere maybe something to that...here is a Sculpture by Robert Foster, note the helmet design.

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I'm sorry, but I can't believe this "rumor" is still floating around LOL

Billy

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Thanks everybody, The tour guide used the Nazi Germany story on Saturday. I thought that was wrong as I remembered something on this from some time ago. Once again PTU comes to the rescue with the right info. You guys never let me down. Steve

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It is interesting that the perception that those flagpoles had some sort of Nazi influence still persists. Thank you all for the information. Mayor LaGuardia had made it clear, in 1937 or 1938 that he did not want any German participation in the 1939 Fair. He stated that Hitler belonged in a "museum of horrors." No argument there. Therefore, if the city and the fair did not want a Nazi sponsored pavilion, there is no way any Nazi symbols would have been permitted at Flushing Meadow.

It always strikes me as very sad that just about all that we have to physically connect ourselves with the 1939 NYWF is a set of misunderstood flagpoles and an art deco museum building that faces constant threat of ridculous architectural alteration.

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All that said, the eagles are quite stunning in characterization and size. I am glad they remain and am also glad they have other origins than I had heard.

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They are ‘Art Deco’ flagpoles left from the 1939 Fair; however, they were located northeast of their present location. This is the official story…

<div align="right"><{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>

Here is an excerpt from the latest excellent NYWF64.com article <a href="http://nywf64.com/intpar00.01.shtml" target="_blank">International Participation At The Fair</a>, the beginning of Chapter Four, which offers an explanation of why the flagpoles were installed.

Be prepared to spend a good 30 minutes or longer with this thesis!

At the New York World's Fair 1939-1940, the United States and the Soviet Union found themselves involved in a space race. "Having the tallest building at the fair is apparently important to the national egos of leading world powers," wrote the New York Times, and both nations vied for the title of biggest exhibitor at the Fair. The Soviet Union's pavilion originally beat out the United States and all other nations with the tallest structure at 188 feet.

To recoup, two flagpoles with the Stars and Stripes were erected a little higher than the Soviet building. In response, the Soviets planned to erect a statue of Stalin atop their pavilion, but the Fair would not allow it. Instead, the Soviets put up a statue of a worker, whom many thought resembled Stalin, adding an additional 75 feet to the top of the pavilion and bringing it to a grand total of 267 feet.

The United States then added an American flag to the top of the parachute jump, boosting America to 270 feet in the air, putting the Soviet Union in its place and winning the space race.<!--sizeo:-1--><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo-->72<!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec-->

72. Gay Talese. "Soviet-U.S. 'Race' at Fair Expected," New York Times, 22 July 1962.

Randy.

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Hi All,

The Soviet Building was one of the top 5 most popular attractions at the Fair in 1939 (Gallup Poll 8/39). I think the statue of "Big Joe" was 79 feet tall - not 75 feet. I believe it was the second tallest structure in 1939 - the flagpole was not added to the Parachute Jump until 1940 when it was moved - probably about the time the flagpole was added to the Westinghouse Singing Tower and a few other structures (like the flag on the Trylon - apparently this was not added until closing week 1940 and, although I doubt the source, photographs seem to bear this out). In any event, the USSR pavilion was already gone. I think the Parachute jump was 262 feet with the flag anyway.

Best,

Magikbilly

PS - More interesting "Nazi" info - anyone ever notice WHO has a steady supply of "genuine" 1939 NYWF Nazi Bund buttons (mint condition and in "both" sizes too! ) with swastika's and T&P's and WHERE they are for sale (let alone the price of $300)? I have asked about these shiny buttons with the modern fonts and clasps - to be told they were from the German-American Bund, but of course that organization was not doing so well at the time. In 1938 at least one of the two Bund Camps on LI was under fire, and Bund leader Kuhn was already being prosecuted for embezzlement of funds for a very costly mistress. He was indicted before the Fair even opened, was arrested for public intoxication on 7/16/39 and was in prison before the Fair closed on October 31st, 1939. By WW2 many members were in American Internment camps with several being deported after the war. Mugging on the Helicline? Sure. Fair visitors walking around wearing these buttons after the Madison Square Rally in February 1939? I don't think so.

Clue to the buttons - May/June and way overpriced (along with everything else, like all the fake napkin rings in complete sets - there are several handy "tricks" used to tell Bakelite from plastic...).... of course, the same expert seller sold me the best candid photo I have ever seen of Democracity for $3 because he did not know what it was!

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Billy,

I have heard that there were two Bund "camps" on LI. Do you have any idea where they were located?

Jim

PS: When the Soviet pavilion at Expo 67 was dismantled, it was removed to Moscow where it still stands in some sort of an amusement park. Do you have any idea what might have become of the 1939 Soviet NYWF Pavilion? I know that it was not simply destroyed. All the newspaper accounts I have read indicate it was returned to the USSR. I suspect it is still standing somewhere in modern Russia.

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Hi,

well - Camp Siegfreid was in Yaphank. More at -

<a href="http://www.newsday.com/community/guide/lihistory/ny-hs729a,0,7169.story?coll=ny-lihistory-navigation" target="_blank">http://www.newsday.com/community/guide/lih...tory-navigation</a>

Best,

Billy

I have heard about the special marble being of the USSR pavilion used somewhere important after it was shipped back - it was true red porphyry from the Gasgan deposit in what is now Uzbekistan. I recall all that - but not where it went There are 2 funny old dealers, a husband and wife team, on LI who INSIST the structure was not removed in 1940 - despite my color slides to the contrary you can see a fragment of this marble at the QM if memory serves next to the scale model of the USSR pavilion. Collected during/after demolition by the guy who made all those architectural models.

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Thank you very much for that link. That camp was far more subversive that I had ever imagined. It also attracted far larger numbers of people than what I had expected. So many Americans embracing the Nazi cause makes absolutely no sense.

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Anyone ever notice WHO has a steady supply of "genuine" 1939 NYWF Nazi Bund buttons (mint condition and in "both" sizes too! ) with swastika's and T&P's.

Billy, is this the button you refer too?

Care to share details on who is selling them?

nywf_39_nazi2.jpg

In 1938 at least one of the two Bund Camps on LI was under fire

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Another gathering area was purportedly Camp Nordland in Andover, New Jersey.

Thank you,

Randy.

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Collected during/after demolition by the guy who made all those architectural models.

Frank Cronican??

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Hi,

yes, Frank Cronican, I couldn't recall if that was the correct name. I think he also was in the '89 QM show catalog for building a scale model of the entire Fair as a young man? Was that him - he later went on to become an architect or designer?

Best,

Billy

PS - Randy, you have a scan of said button - you're doing better than I am!

There is not much more I can say - do you think it is genuine? I love to be proven wrong - the fastest way to learn even more

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Hi,

yes, Frank Cronican, I couldn't recall if that was the correct name. I think he also was in the '89 QM show catalog for building a scale model of the entire Fair as a young man? Was that him - he later went on to become an architect or designer?

Yes indeedy-do. But I believe he was "independantly wealthy" and made models pretty much full time. A few of the '39 NYWF pavilion models are on display at the QM, as I'm sure you're aware. They're spectacular in their detail!

He also made theater (movie palace) models that were equally spectacular.

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A quote from the NY Times in Bill Young's new article on building the Fair:

"The only sign of the last World's Fair more than twenty years ago was a pair of gigantic flagpoles across the Flushing River. They were topped by eagles of the Third Reich. The swastikas had been removed. "

So how did the Times decide this?

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Back last August I posted a scanned image of the eagles taken from the book mentioned by mwalker on 3/2. I'll see if I can find the scan and post it in the gallery section. Clearly the eagle tops were always American in origin and are shown sitting on a ball, not wreath. Prior to WWII, stylized eagles of this sort were acceptable. Today we associate the "flattened" style with Nazi Germany and see it as nearly taboo to use (fully understandable).

" wfeag.bmp ( 601.58k ) Number of downloads: 32

Sorry for the long delay - here's the eagle top for the fair flagpoles.

Although this is more the '39 fair then '64, I've just found that the same artist, Robert Foster, created the Mercury sculpture for the Ford pavilion and another freestanding piece for the fair grounds. His forte seems to have been sheet metal as they all were done in the style you see in the flagpole eagle. I found them to be very nice work - wish the larger sculptures were still around to view."

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It doesn't look like the image downloaded, Mark.

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Back last August I posted a scanned image of the eagles taken from the book mentioned by mwalker on 3/2. I'll see if I can find the scan and post it in the gallery section. Clearly the eagle tops were always American in origin and are shown sitting on a ball, not wreath. Prior to WWII, stylized eagles of this sort were acceptable. Today we associate the "flattened" style with Nazi Germany and see it as nearly taboo to use (fully understandable).

"  wfeag.bmp ( 601.58k ) Number of downloads: 32

Sorry for the long delay - here's the eagle top for the fair flagpoles.

Although this is more the '39 fair then '64, I've just found that the same artist, Robert Foster, created the Mercury sculpture for the Ford pavilion and another freestanding piece for the fair grounds. His forte seems to have been sheet metal as they all were done in the style you see in the flagpole eagle. I found them to be very nice work - wish the larger sculptures were still around to view."

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Hi,

no offense, but was this not pointed out correctly by mwalker and hoodlock a few posts into this thread? There was a lot of work similar in style and execution at this Fair. These poles have nothing to do with Germany, no more than those buttons Randy posted (IMHO).

Best,

Billy

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I think it was covered, Billy - I had just pointed out that prestigious venues like the NY Times have claimed the poles were Nazi-oriented, and wondered how they slipped on their fact checking.

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Wasn't there some story this past year on stuff getting published in the Times without double-checking, and some reporter getting fired?

I suspect the journalistic quality at the Times is not as prestigious as it once was, or that they would like us to believe it still is, irregardless of the fact that it is certainly a "big" newspaper with lots of employees and thick Sunday editions.

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Never heard that Cronican was wealthy. My understanding was that he retired from CBS. He had been a camera man.

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