Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Perisphere, 1939 New York World's Fair

I've posted plenty of photos from the 1965/65 New York World's Fair. But today is the first time I am sharing photos from the 1939/40 New York World's Fair! Poised at the end of the Great Depression and as the war in Europe was growing, this fair was huge and dazzling and offered a view of a better future.

These pictures are from a photo album that my mom found in Minnesota. Thanks mom! The prints are generally smaller than a playing card; in fact, they are about the size of a business card. I guess shutterbugs were OK with small photos, especially if they got more pictures out of a single roll of film.

Check out this wonderful shot taken of the base of the iconic theme buildings, the soaring Trylon (700 feet high) and the huge Perisphere (180 feet in diameter). Wikipedia says: The sphere housed a diorama called "Democracity" which, in keeping with the fair's theme "The World of Tomorrow", depicted a utopian city-of-the-future. Democracity was viewed from above on a moving sidewalk, while a multi-image slide presentation was projected on the interior surface of the sphere. After exiting the Perisphere, visitors descended to ground level on the third element of the Theme Center, the Helicline, a 950-foot-long (290 m) spiral ramp that partially encircled the Perisphere.

Here's another amazing view from the walkway between the Trylon and Perisphere. Wow!

Looking in another direction, I believe that the building with the octagonal roof is the AT&T pavilion. To the right of that, the Medicine and Public Health building.

All those overcoats... the Fair was open until the month of October, and this must have been around then. These ladies are walking down the long Helicline mentioned in the Wikipedia description above. The two tall pylons are part of the Crosley building (Crosley made automobiles and fine radios, among other products).

If you are interested, I will post more images from the 1939 Fair! I even have a few color slides, though some of them are naughty, showing scantily-clad ladies. Woo-hoo!


Chiana_Chat said...

Bring on the naughty slides! woo hoo! lol

The buildings in the 3rd pic look startlingly modern.

Crosley... once a great name for US electronics, automobiles and more. Now a sold-out made-in-China peddler of fake "retro" looking junk (cheapo radios and record grinders) that are best avoided. Sigh.

Nancy said...

I have always marveled too at how modern and futuristic this Fair looked for being in the 30s/40s. These photos are awesome, cant wait to see some more ;-)

....and I am with Chiana on those naughty ones...hubba hubba!

The Viewliner Limited said...

Very nice Major. Actually great pictures. Nothing like personal pics from a vantage point not often seen. And yes, we also like naughty. Happy New Year again.

TokyoMagic! said...

This is another fair that you look at and wonder how they could have torn down all those wonderful structures afterward. I know, I know, World's Fairs aren't meant to be permanent!

Would love to see more pics of this fair, Major!

Connie Moreno said...

Major, I didn't think I would find these of interest but guess what? I'm hooked. So darn modern, they are amazing.

Bill Cotter said...

These are great. It sure looks like a chilly day as you mentioned. My parents were both at that fair and still talk about what a wonderful experience it was.

It's amazing to think they built all that and then tore it down. I think only two buildings remain from the 39-40 Fair - the New York City Building and a boathouse.

I have a few pictures from the fair at http://www.worldsfairphotos.com/nywf39/tour.htm.

What a great find your mom made! Thank her for us.


Nancy said...

Bill, thanks so much for sharing your pictures...they are beautiful!!

JG said...

Great Stuff Major, bring on those cuties, we wants them, we do.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Major, for the interesting 39-40 Worlds Fair pictures. My Grandfather was an Iron worker who helped construct the Trylon and Perisphere.I have pictures of these buildings under construction with my Grandpa standing in front of them! More Worlds Fair pictures please! Regardless of which one! Thanks again- Dennis from Levittown NY

Major Pepperidge said...

Chiana, I'll have to think about how to best present the naughty slides. They are from one of the "girlie" shows, and the women are wearing see-through tops and bottoms. Scandalous! Meanwhile.... "record grinders", ha ha.

Nancy, I love the art deco flair that so many of these modern buildings have.

Viewliner, I don't want to censor the photos, but this is sort of a "family blog"; not sure how to handle them.

TM!, as usual I agree with you. But if you see photos of the buildings from the second season, they are already starting to fall apart. Even the might Trylon and Perisphere have bumpy plaster that looks like it's about to slough off.

Connie, if you've ever seen color footage from this fair (there's tons on YouTube) I guarantee you will wish you could have been there in person!

Bill, I am familiar with your photos (and your website)! Great stuff as always. It's amazing how many photos were taken of those statues; even my photo album has plenty. I would love to talk to somebody who had first-hand experience at the '39 Fair!

JG, I had no idea that so many people were interested in the cuties!

Anon, I would love to see the photos of your Grandpa in front of the under-construction Trylon and Perishpere! Is there any way you can scan them?

Anonymous said...

A bit of history about the "small" prints you found. Cameras in that time period used fairly large film stock (some as large as 2.25" wide and maybe 12 images per roll) and prints were actually "contact" prints made by sandwiching the developed negative directly on the photo paper under a sheet of glass and exposing for an image. This was a fast way to make prints and didn't require any enlarging (expensive equipment!). I love the sepia tone as well!!

Bill in Denver

Jason Schultz said...

Major, for the naughty slides maybe you can make a new blog called "Gorillas DO Blog." It would not only provide a separate venue for the photos but also act as a justification for any real or perceived social transgression.

Anonymous said...

Amazing fair photos! More please.