Tuesday, February 07, 2012

New York World's Fair, 1939

It's time to go back 73 years in time to 1939 and the New York World's Fair!


First up is this photo of the Westinghouse building, where exhibits "... show how man has utilized the tremendous, indefinable forces of electricity. Among the wonders are a riderless bicycle that steers and balances itself; the world of the invisible, where micro-animals lead their lives; and the Westinghouse Robot - an 8-foot metal man that talks, sees, smells, sings, and counts with his fingers." Ha ha, the robot smells, maybe he needs Irish Spring. The sculptural element in the forecourt resembles a prop from "The Bride of Frankenstein"; I believe that at the base of the cone of concentric circles you would find the famous Westinghouse time capsule, which won't be opened until the year 6939. See you there!


For those of you who were curious (Hannahx2!), here's what the robot (named Electro, and seen here with his dog Sparko) looked like!


The entrance to the "Electric Utilities Exhibit Corporation" involved a dramatic walk through a waterfall. To the left you can see the base of the 150-foot transmission tower. The main exhibit was a show with a live cast, showing "The Forward March of America". "Life with and without electricity is contrasted in two actual streets. Time moves backward to a street of 1892... portraying the life of the era. Then time spans the years to a modern street, showing how electricity has contributed to the tremendous progress made in the past 50 years."


The huge stainless steel lightning bolt in front of the General Electric building represents "... the taming of the savage natural forces of electricity to serve the needs of men." One exhibit showed man-made lightning, 10 million volts arcing over 30 feet. Inside the "House of Magic", you would see a solar-powered motor, "great whirling discs, synchronized with light", and a "metal carpet floating in space" (whatever that means!). There was also a huge mural by Rockwell Kent, and a complete television studio. Television in 1939, wow!


And finally, the obligatory shot of the Trylon and Perishpere. The Unisphere from the 1964 World's Fair was built on the site of the Perisphere!


Stay tuned for more...

8 comments:

Katella Gate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom said...

That robot ("Electro") also smoked, and boasted of a brain consisting of a couple dozen relays. Big stuff back in the day... The '39 World's Fair is one of just a few stops I have on my list of places to visit once I get my time machine up and running.

Hannahx2 said...

I want to see the robot! He sounds delightfully scary!

The Viewliner Limited said...

AWESOME !!!

210Frwy said...

There are great. I love the 39 fair. I’m pretty sure Electro made his way to Pacific Ocean Park in the early 60s. I wonder where he is today?

Hannahx2 said...

Ooooh thanks for the photo! Way cool. He is pretty creepy... but he's a doggie lover, that's a plus :)

Nancy said...

definitely unusual, that robot. I still find it so interesting, how modern the Fair was in 1939.

Cathy Scibelli said...

Elektro lives at the Mansfield Memorial Museum in Mansfield Ohio along with displays and information on other Westinghouse robots from World's Fairs. I recently started a blog to share stories from rare "Today at the Fair" papers that were published each day of the 1939/40 NY Fair, and also photos and stories of Fair relics I've found in travels across the U.S. Later this week I'll be posting on Elektro. The blog is worldsfairstories.blogspot.com