The “World of Tomorrow”

Seventy-five years ago the 1939 World’s Fair opened in Queens, New York City, NY, on April 30, 1939.  (Also the site of the 1964 World’s Fair)

FDR Opens N.Y. World’s Fair Before 600,000

New York, N.Y.—The “World of Tomorrow,” spectacular pageant of color and engineering skill, is jammed with excited and thrilled sightseers for its gala opening. Pres. Roosevelt, dedicating the $156,000,000 exhibit calls for world good-will and peace. The evening is climaxed with brilliant fireworks!

From: Universal Newsreel Volume 11, Release 767, Stories 2 & 4, May 1, 1939

On this Day

Italian immigrant and co-founder of the Planters Peanut Company, Amedeo Obici was born on July 15th, 1877 in Veneto, Italy. Amedeo settled in the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania region and co-founded the company with another Italian emigre, Mario Peruzzi. The company’s iconic logo of an anthropomorphic gentleman peanut was created by fourteen year old schoolboy Antonio Gentile in 1916.

Bookmark from the Collection on the 1939/1940 New York World’s Fair, Queens Museum, 2011.1.117WF39.

A statue of George Washington is silhouetted against the 1939 World’s Fair’s “Perisphere” sculpture.

Since the opening of the 1939 World’s Fair on April 30, 1939, coincided with the 150th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration as the first President of the United States, the commemoration of this anniversary was major theme in the opening ceremonies.  

Excerpted from: Universal Newsreel Volume 11, Release 767, Stories 2 & 4, May 1, 1939


Staff Pick of the Week

This week, Anna chose three small books about polar exploration published by the USSR for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. These books celebrate the first-ever manned drifting ice station, which began operations in May of 1937 near the North Pole and ended in February of 1938 when the ice floe broke up near the coast of Greenland. The station provided valuable information about the arctic region, including meteorological observations, ocean depth soundings, wildlife observations, and more. The expedition organizer, Otto Schmidt, and the four explorer/scientists who stayed on the ice floe, Ivan Papanin, Pyotr Shirshov, Yevgeny Fyodorov, and Ernst Krenkel, were all awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union.

Each of the books takes a slightly different approach to discussing the expedition, which might have made them appeal to a larger audience at the World’s Fair. The Conquest of the Arctic is the most text-heavy and establishes the USSR’s work in the Arctic as part of the larger scientific, economic, and cultural progress of the global community. Scientific Work of Our Polar Expedition, as you might guess, focuses on the expedition’s scientific observations but is not overly technical and includes a fair number of illustrations showing the scientists at work. Camping at the Pole is the shortest and most heavily illustrated of the three books. It focuses on the preparations for the expedition and the explorers’ daily lives while they were on the ice floe.

The three books can be found in the catalog as follows:


The House That Dali Built.

Continuing my 1939 World’s Fair series, here’s one of the weirder things to be found…. and there was a lot of weird stuff there. Tucked away in a corner of the fair’s Amusement Area was the Dream Of Venus, a funhouse designed by ole pointy whiskers himself, Salvador Dali.

Passing the fish head ticket booth, you found yourself quite literally immersed in Dali’s typical insanity which included, among a myriad of other things, girls swimming among floating telephones, a leopard faced mannequin covered in shot glasses, and Venus herself laying on a massive red satin bed. Even then, Dali later denounced that his sponsors had watered down his vision.