New York Worlds Fairs

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Back when Americans looked forward to a future loaded with technology designed to liberate us from the tedium of work, New York hosted two World's Fairs, one in 1939-40 and another in 1964-65. Both business to showcase what it had imagined about tomorrow and what we could expect in short order. Everyone was excited and impatient. Ironcially, both fairs came just prior to major global upheavals—World War II and the counterculture revolution. In this regard, they were World Unfairs. I remember my parents momentos from the 1939-40 fair and, as a child of 9, I attended the second one. For a kid age who had just endured the Kennedy assassination and the Beatles' arrival, the exhibits were jaw dropping. When coupled with the space program, the fair really did seem as if we'd be jetting off to Venus for the day in our own private capsules.

Here's some grand footage from both fairs, which were held on the same grounds 25 years apart. In both cases, Americans naively thought all the world's problems could be solved by modernity, living color and fast diversions.

Here's the 1939-40 World's Fair, whose pavillions tended to celebrate governments and food—appropriate themes following the Depression...

Here are home movies of people at the 1939-40 fair...

Here's an odd film of Swing dancing at the 1939-40 fair...

Here's a news report on the building of the 1964-65 fair...

Here's another documentary from Pathe...

Here's a home movie...

And here's one of my favorites, an ad for a special tourquois and orange subway line that took you directly out to the fair using the 7 line to Flushing...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
Copyright © 2015. All rights reserved.

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