April 30, 2010 7:06 AM   Subscribe

The New York World’s Fair of 1939 and 1940 promised visitors they would be looking at the “World of Tomorrow”. (second link is similar to the second one here)
posted by gman (21 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I can't believe neither of those articles mentioned television!
posted by DiscourseMarker at 7:21 AM on April 30, 2010

The modern equivalent (Shanghai Expo) at Big Picture. Warning: Giant baby.
posted by smackfu at 7:22 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by gman at 7:24 AM on April 30, 2010

My mom was there. She was a teen at the time.
posted by fixedgear at 7:28 AM on April 30, 2010

Anyone interested in the World's Fair of 1939 must read "The World of Tomorrow" by E. B. White.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:40 AM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

I was there! all I can recall lis eating a cheese sandwich...but it was a good one.Went with mom and pop and my two brothers. Alas, I am the only one left of that outing. We came in from Connecticut.
posted by Postroad at 7:42 AM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

“These things aren’t just quaint,” says Cory Doctorow, a Boing Boing contributor and science fiction writer. “They’re a caution and an inspiration. They show us just how faulty our intuition about the future use of new inventions can be. Most of this stuff was utterly plausible when the rides opened, and it’s only in hindsight that we can see how weirdly wrong they got it. For example, nobody predicted the rise in popularity of steampunk homewares, digital rights management or disemvowelling as a means of crowd control."
posted by MuffinMan at 8:05 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

My mom was there many times over the two years since she lived in the city at the time. She was a little kid and doesn't remember too many specifics but I know that she saw the demonstrations of television.
posted by octothorpe at 8:09 AM on April 30, 2010

posted by blue_beetle at 8:26 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

"the bassinets of newborn infants are wired against kidnappers"

Fall out form the Limburgh Baby kidnapping?
posted by The Whelk at 8:28 AM on April 30, 2010

I'm still waiting for the cheese sandwich that futurity promised me.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:41 AM on April 30, 2010

Alas, I am the only one left of that outing.

Sooo, you're saying the exhibit was cursed?

posted by aramaic at 9:11 AM on April 30, 2010

Nope. saying my family decided to make me an orphan and joined (perhaps) that great big world fair in the sky. They did manage to get me back to Connecticut and we had some good times, but the Fair like all things, including our friends and loved ones and jobs and buildings and all other things fade fade fade...die die die. How is that for a happy Friday thought? But I have grown over the years and now instead of plain cheese on white bread I eat grilled cheese sandwhices w/mustard and tomato. On birthdays, I will toss a slice of two of bacon on it too.
posted by Postroad at 9:23 AM on April 30, 2010

"On all express city thoroughfares, the rights of way have been so rooted(?) as to displace outmoded business sections and undesirable slum areas whenever possible."

Social engineering ala GM. Creepy indeed.
posted by frobozz at 9:34 AM on April 30, 2010

that was from the video, btw
posted by frobozz at 9:34 AM on April 30, 2010

routed, frobozz.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:36 AM on April 30, 2010

Interested readers should also pick up computer science academic and Unabomber victim David Gelernter's 1939: The Lost World of the Fair, which is a reimagined 'tour' of the fair that also expresses the author's curious yen for a more authoritarian, or maybe more socially cohesive, society. It's a strange book.

There is also a comprehensive history of the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago which may be of interest. Jay Pridmore's Inventive Genius: The History of the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago for which I lack a direct citation, alas. The book includes a great amount of detail on the assembly of the displays which opened around 1940 in the museum and clearly documents the hiring of firms and personnel whose immediate prior gigs were at the World's Fair.

Gelernter mentions that the World's Fair exhibits were broken down and sold off. The MSI book mentions that some of the displays that opened in 1940 were purchased elsewhere. To my recollection, neother author directly states that any World's Fair exhibitions were moved wholesale into the MSI. Despite this, I came to the conclusion that part of the reason that old images of the World's Fair resonate with me is that in essence, the rhetorical style of the World's Fair was directly continued in the MSI's older exhibits, now almost all completely gone.

However in the 1970s, the wings of the Museum were still filled with dusty animated displays of gears and typologically sorted celebrations of the manufacturing might of the United States of America. Without knowing, as I child, I walked the streets of the city of the future of the past.
posted by mwhybark at 10:36 AM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

for which I lack a direct citation, alas.

oops, I found the cite but forgot the edit.
posted by mwhybark at 11:11 AM on April 30, 2010

Fifty years after the fair. Aimee Mann's fantastic song about the World's Fair.

"How beautiful it was tomorrow..."

Lyrics (and, I'm afraid, the usual annoying offers of ringtone download).
posted by lapsangsouchong at 3:58 PM on April 30, 2010

I'm glad that organ is not a part of my future.
posted by PHINC at 9:51 PM on April 30, 2010

Cool post though, love that perspective.
posted by PHINC at 9:52 PM on April 30, 2010

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