Getting televised at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
RCA, General Electric and Westinghouse had television exhibits at the fair, and NBC began its network broadcasts on the day the fair opened (With a speech from FDR, no less). Unfortunately, recording technology wasn’t there yet, so whatever flashed on the TV screens of the day will never be seen again, outside of rare silent home movies and still photos (Unless there’s some truth to a certain Futurama episode).
By far the most popular exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, the General Motors-sponsored Futurama (contained in its Highways and Horizons pavilion) was a gigantic diorama showcasing a proposed futuristic world of 1960, created by industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes. Unlike most utopian predictions, the Futurama turned out to be surprisingly accurate, in that it presented a country joined by a network of interstate highways which , for better or worse, did become a reality in the 50′s. Other predictions included helipads on skyscrapers, genetically modified food, and automatic highway systems.
After the simulated flight over this world of 1960, visitors exited into a full scale replica of one of the intersections seen in the diorama, which included elevated sidewalks. Upon exiting, visitors were given a small pin that simply read “I Have Seen The Future”
Even more everyday fashions, 1939…. now in higher quality!
Incidentally, the portly gentleman in the bottom gif is wealthy New York manufacturer and sword collector Philip Medicus, the man responsible for most of the footage that produced these gifs. The fella next to him is his son Philip Jay, who later became a well known antique weapon cartridge dealer.
Railroad display at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
Featuring - Pennsylvania Railroad S-1 and GG-1 locomotives, Italian ETR 200 Electric, the LMS Coronation Scot (with engine 6229 Duchess Of Hamilton masquerading as 6220 Coronation), a Delaware and Lackawanna Western 4-6-4 , and a New York Central J3-a Hudson.
The theme of the fair was The World Of Tomorrow, and one of the exhibits that best embodied it was the one from the Westinghouse Corporation. Nowadays it would look like blatant corporate shilling, but to depression era audiences, the promise of future full of convenient electric appliances was more than appealing.
The exhibits included a fully electric kitchen, hands-on industrial machinery you could play with, a bicycle held up by light beams, and most famously, the Westinghouse time capsule (to be opened in 6939), and Electro the Moto-man. The latter would become one of the more emblematic exhibits from the fair and could move on its own, count on his fingers, smoke cigarettes, and trade barbs with his “trainer”.
It’s also one of two exhibits at the fair to get their own Technicolor film. In this case it’s The Middleton Family At The New York World’s Fair.