World's Fairs

New York World's Fair
Figure 1.--Perhaps the best known symbol of any World's Fair were the futuristic Trylon and Perisphere of the 1939 New York World Fair. An optomistic state which incongrougly began at the same tome as World war II. The Eastman Kodak Exhibition had a place to be photographed with models. The little boy here sits on top of the Perisphere model. Notice the boy's saddle shoes.

The most Visible demonsration of modern science anf technology was the world fairs that began in Victorian England and that subsequently were held throughout Europe and North America. The first international industry and science fais was the famed Great Exibition held at London's Crystal Palace. It was mastermined by Prince Albert. And it was such a success that it was followed by a series of such exhibitions. Prince Albert's exhibition put the technology of industrial Britain on display for all to see. Subsequent exhibitions became more and more innovative about how to make technology inderstandable to the average person. The Colombian Exposition in Chicago showcased electricity (1893). It was also the beginning of the American postcard industry. The Chicago World's Fair was held in the middle of the Great Depression (1933-34). The New York World's Fair show cased the World Of Tommorow with exhibits about what the world of the future would be like. Tragically it was held in the last fleeting months of peace before the outbreak of World War II (1939).

Great Exhibition (1851)

The most Visible demonsration of modern science anf technology was the world fairs that began in Victorian England and that subsequently were held throughout Europe and North America. The first international industry and science fais was the famed Great Exibition held at London's Crystal Palace. It was mastermined by Prince Albert. And it was such a success that it was followed by a series of such exhibitions. Prince Albert's exhibition put the technology of industrial Britain on display for all to see. Subsequent exhibitions became more and more innovative about how to make technology inderstandable to the average person.

Colombian Exhibition (1893)

The World's Columbian Exposition is often referred to as the Chicago World's Fair. It was held in Chicago during 1893. It was held to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus discovery of the Americas. There was a good deal of competition as to where the Exposition shold be held in America. Other possibilities were New York City, Washington, D.C. and St. Louis, Missouri. This may have been the most important world's fair held in America. It proved to be very influential in architecture and the arts at a time when America was making the transition from an agricultural to a modern industrial nsation. It also recognized Chicag's emergence as a gret American city on the Plains. The Exposition was largely designed by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmstead. They were presenting in the Exposition and idealized version of what they thought a modern American city should look like. It was essentially promoting the Beaux arts principles of European architecture. Industry was anothr major theme, especially the emphasis on electricity. Over 27 million people (a number equal to about half the U.S. population) attended the Exposition during the 6 months the Exposition was open. The World's Columbian Exposition was much larger and grander than any other world's fairs of the era. It was thus show cased America's emergence as a great industrial powerhouse in essentially the same way that the Great Exhibition showcased the industrial Britain. One source suggests that the Exposition symbolized the idea of American Exceptionalism. Actually the artistic and archetectural exhibitions showcased connections with Europe. The Exposition was beginning of the American postcard industry.

St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904)

St. Louis at the turn of the 20th century was the fourth largest American city. It was the site for the second major world's fair held in America. St. Louis was the jumping off point for many of the waggon trains that brought Americans on to the Great Plains and the Pacific west--the lands obtained in the Lousiana Purchase (1803). The St. Louis World's Fair commemorated the centenial of the Louisiana Purchase. The planners missed 1803 because of delays in construction and preparing the exhibitions. The promotrs calle it the "The Greatest of Expositions". It was indeed larger than the Colombian Exposition or any of the Victorian-era world's fairs held in Europe. There were nearly 20 million visitors during the 7 months the Exposition was open. operated. About 60 countries and almost all of the states (there were only 45 at the time) participated. More than 60 countries maintained exhibition spaces at the fair. Historians today tend to focus on the themes of race and empire. The Fair had a major impact study of of architecture, art, anthropology, and history. These and hundreds of manufacturing companies presented a view of civilization, history, arts, and indstry. One of the big hits were the Native americans, including Geronimo. The preparation for the Exposition was the backdrop for one of the most beloved American movies--"Meet Me in St. Louis" (1944). It was a needed escapist diversion from the horrors of World War II.

Chicago World's Fair (1933-34)

The Chicago World's Fair was held in the middle of the Great Depression (1933-34). The theme was "A Century of Progress". The Fair was conceived by a not-for-profit corporation organized in January 1928. The "A Century of Progress Exposition" was conceived as celebrating 100 years of progress in Chicago. It was to show case industrial and scientific achievements. A site was chosen along the shore of Lake Michigan between 12th and 39th streets. It was south of the Navy Pier close to down town Chicago. here were 424 acres of lakeshore with both land and water areas. The actual Fair Grounds included two man-made lagoons and Northerly Island. The Chicago World Fair opened (May 27, 1933). The lights were turned on with energy from the rays of the star Arcturus. The rays were focused on photo-electric cells in a series of astronomical observatories and then transformed into electrical energy which was transmitted to Chicago. The Fair focused more than any other world Fair on color and lighting. The Fair di not give important attention to architecture. Rather the Chicago World Fair focused on color and lighting. Like other World Fairs there was considerable attention to science and technology. Despite the Depression, the Chicago World Fair was still an important success. More than 48 million visitors enjoyed the Fair.

New York World's Fair (1939-40)

The New York World's Fair was held at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. It was one of the largest world's fairs. A large number of countries participated. One of the few which decined was NAZI Germany. Attendance exceeded 44 million people. The symbols of the Fair were the futuristic Trylon and Perisphere. The theme of the Fair was 'The world of tomorrow'. The Fair promotions explained, "The eyes of the Fair are on the future -- not in the sense of peering toward the unknown nor attempting to foretell the events of tomorrow and the shape of things to come, but in the sense of presenting a new and clearer view of today in preparation for tomorrow; a view of the forces and ideas that prevail as well as the machines. To its visitors the Fair will say: 'Here are the materials, ideas, and forces at work in our world. These are the tools with which the World of Tomorrow must be made. They are all interesting and much effort has been expended to lay them before you in an interesting way. Familiarity with today is the best preparation for the future.'" The exhibit thus show cased the 'World of Tommorow' with exhibits about what the world of the future would be like. The Boy Scouts assisted at the Fair in a variety of ways. Thoise not on duty could tour the Fair. Tragically it opened in the last fleeting months of peace before the outbreak of World War II (1939). Among the visitors were King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, invited by President Roosevelt to show case American support for Britain as Europe moved toward war. The oficial purpose of their visit was to open the British Pavilon. One observer remembers his experience as a boy, "To go to this fair was to have your life changed forever. It was there that I was amazed by a device that measured the thickness of my hair, by a General Motors vision of 1960 (I asked my parents whether I'd still be alive at that distant time in the future), by mighty Railroads on Parade and Railroads at Work, by climbing up to look into the cockpit of a real airplane, by witnessing for the first time something called television; and I was chilled by the sight of a gas mask, as if I realized that here was a sign of what soon would dash or delay many of the hopes that THE FAIR expressed."







CIH






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Created: 12:04 AM 4/23/2008
Last updated: 1:54 AM 3/16/2017