Earth Station 9 - Relevance is Everything

Home Support Earth Station 9 Search the Web | Email

The World's Fair and Exposition
Information and Reference Guide

1939 New York World's Fair




  • 271 facts and trivia nuggets with 129 links to external resources.

  • The World's Fair and Exposition Information and Reference Guide is now on CD.
    11,216 facts and 1,362 web links covering 24 World's Fairs and Expositions.
    Further information can be found here.

  • To Convert Dollar Amounts to the Year 2003: divide the amount by .076








  • Title: 1939 New York World's Fair.

  • Theme: 150th Anniversary of the Inauguration of George Washington in New York.

  • Slogan (1939): Building the World of Tomorrow with the Tools of Today.

  • Slogan (1940): For Peace and Freedom.

  • Symbol: Trylon and Perisphere.

  • Location: Flushing Meadows (Corona Dump), Queens, New York.

  • Category: General Exhibition, Second Category.

  • Exposition President (1939): Grover A Whalen.

  • Exposition President (1940): Harvey Gibson.

  • Dates: 30 April 1939 - 31 October 1939 and 11 May 1940 - 27 October 1940.

  • Area: 1,216 acres (493 hectares).

  • Admission (1939): 75¢ for adults, 25¢ for children (3-14).

  • Admission (1940): 50¢ for adults, 25¢ for children (3-14).

  • Children's Day: one day a week, 10 cent admission.

  • Adult Season Ticket (1939): $15.00.

  • Adult Season Ticket (1940): $10.00.

  • Children's Season Ticket: $5.00.

  • College Student and Teacher's Season Ticket: $7.50.

  • College Student and Teacher's Twenty Admission Ticket Book: $5.00.

  • Advance Tickets: Souvenir Book (5 general admission and 6 concession tickets), $3.75.

  • Advance Tickets: Twenty Admission Ticket Book, $7.50.

  • Free Passes and Complimentary Tickets: none.

  • Hours: 9:00 AM - 10:00 PM, Buildings: 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM.

  • Amusement Zone (1939): 9:00 AM - 2:00 AM.

  • Great White Way (1940): 10:00 AM - 2:00 AM.

  • Gates: 10 (another source indicates 9 entranceways).

  • Cost: $155,000,000.

  • Profit: none.

  • Attendance: 57,000,000 (another source indicates 44,932,978).

  • Themed Zones (7): Amusements, Communications, Community Interests, Food, Government, Production and Distribution, Transportation.

  • Participating Nations (60): Albania, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, France, French Indochina, Great Britain, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Netherlands East Indies, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Siam, Southern Rhodesia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Uruguay, USSR, Venezuela, Yugoslavia. I could only find references to those listed..

  • Participating States (48): Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

  • State Buildings (24): Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia.

  • Participating US Territories: Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands.

  • Exhibit Buildings: over 100.

  • Exhibitors: 1,500.

  • Employees: approximately 50,000.

  • Information Booths: 17.

  • First Aid Stations (1939): 6.

  • First Aid Stations (1940): 5.

  • Ambulances (1939-40): 5 plus a truck and speed boat.

  • Police Force: approximately 2,000.

  • Emergency Phone: WOrlds Fair 6-1990.

  • Official Bus Carrier: Greyhound.

  • Greyhound Buses: 100 (48 passengers, 8 mph).

  • Distance Between Bus Stations: 800 feet (average).

  • Bus Parking (Roosevelt Avenue): 575 buses.

  • Car Parking: 35,000 cars (250 acres).

  • Mooring Basin (Flushing Bay): 300 boats.

  • Landscaping: 10,000 trees, 400,000 pansies, 500,000 hedge plants, 1,000,000 bulbs, 1,500,000 bedding plants.

  • Landscaping Cost: $1,500,000.

  • Official Guide Book: Pocket Edition: 25¢, Regular Edition: 50¢, Hard Cover: $1.00, Cloth Bound: $2.00, Imitation Leather: $3.50, Genuine Leather Stamped in Gold: $5.00.

  • Official Souvenir Book: Regular Paper Edition: $1.00, Hard Cover: $2.00, Cloth Cover: $3.50, Imitation Leather: $5.00, Genuine Leather: $10.00.

  • Official Guide Books (foreign): French, German, Italian, Polish, Spanish, Yiddish. Paper Cover: 50¢, Hard Cover: $1.00.

  • World's Fair Guide Publisher (1940): Rogers-Kellogg-Stillson, Inc.

  • Daily News Guides (2): Official Daily Program, World's Fair News - 5¢ a piece.

  • Official Photographers: Underwood & Underwood.

  • Official Motion Picture Producers: Official Films, Inc.

  • Predominating Colors: Yellow (Bowling Green), Blue (Plaza of Light), White (Theme Center), Red (Constitution Mall).

  • Three times the size of the Golden Gate Exposition.

  • US Population (1939): 130,879,718.


Facts and Trivia



  • The 1,216 acres of land to be called Flushing Meadow Park was a marshland and bog called the "Corona Dumps". The highest point was a 100 foot high summit of ash called "Mount Corona".

  • F. Scott Fitzgerald referred to Mount Corona as "valley of ashes" in "The Great Gatsby".

  • It was 3½ miles long and more than a mile wide.

  • Flushing River, which ran through the area, was crossed by George Washington in 1790.

  • Cost for the Land: $7,000,000+.

  • June 29, 1936 - Ground breaking ceremonies.

  • The bog was filled with over 6,000,000 cubic feet of ash and hundreds of thousands of yards of top soil.

  • Fountain Lake and Willow Lake are created and become the two largest lakes in New York City.

  • Willow Lake encompasses 84 acres.

  • Flushing River is cleaned and rerouted, and a tide gate and dam are built.

  • March 1937 - Flushing Meadows Park is completed ahead of schedule. Construction begins.

  • Cost of Improvements: $12,000,000.

  • Flushing Meadows is 50% larger than New York's Central Park.

  • May, 1937 - BIE grants, recognizes and sanctions the 1939 New York World's Fair.

  • April 30 , 1939 - Fair Opens - It's the 150th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration at Federal Hall in New York City.



  • The Board of Design's goal was "unity not uniformity".

  • No standard architectural scheme was formulated. The only rules pertained to scale, color and relationships.

  • No imitation of a permanent structure or imitations of historic architecture were allowed. However, an exception was made for the period architecture of the State buildings.

  • Most buildings were no larger than a few stories tall.

  • The New York State and New York City Buildings were to be the only permanent structures.

  • The Trylon and Perisphere were the only all white structures on the grounds.

  • "Time and the Fates of Man" was the largest sun dial ever built.

  • The Schaeffer Walk of Fame contained the hand and footprints of: Babe Ruth, Eddie Rickenbocker, Lowell Thomas, Robert Moses, Lew Lehr, Roy Chapman Andrews and Bill Bojangles Robinson.

  • Dr William Bebe's "bathysphere" was on display (it was also displayed at the 1933 Century of Progress in Chicago).

  • The Girls Scouts "Swiss Chalet" was a reproduction of their headquarters in Adelboden, Switzerland.

  • The Schlitz Garden represented their 15th Exposition or World's Fair appearance.

  • The Soviet Pavilion was the tallest building.

  • Kodak's Building featured 11 enormous twin projectors displaying color photographs on a 187 feet long, 22 foot high screen (the largest in the world).

  • During the fair an announcement was made over the loudspeaker that Germany had invaded Poland. The fair was closed.

  • Superman Day was July 3, 1940. Price of Admission: 10 cents.



  • The Pennsylvania Building was a full-size replica of Independence Hall.

  • The Westinghouse Building housed the time capsule. It was marked by a 150 foot tall illuminated tower.

  • The 105 foot tower of the Dupont Building resembled a piece of laboratory equipment. Inside you could see "acele" (acetate rayon) yarn being made and watch "Exton" bristles being inserted into toothbrushes.

  • Dupont developed nylon in 1934.

  • The first nylon toothbrush (Dr. West’s Miracle Tuft Toothbrush) was marketed in the US in September, 1938.

  • Elsie the Cow makes her debut in the Borden Building. She went on tour after the Fair and had a part in the movie "Little Men". She died in 1941 and is buried at the site of the Walker-Gordon Dairy in Plainsboro, NJ. Grave Marker.

  • The fountain in Perylon Circle, "Dances of the Races", was sculpted by Malvina Hoffman (1887-1966).

  • The Consumer Interests Building was a first for a World's Fair. It was designed by Frederic Hirons and Peter Copeland.

  • The Johns-Manville Building displayed uses of the "magic mineral" asbestos. As well as asphalt, diatomaceous earth and limestone.

  • Bi-weekly classes were given to students in various sports activities by professional sports players. Personalities included: Babe Ruth, Eddie Rickenbacker, Gene Tunney, Jack Dempsey and Lou Gehrig.

  • Ronson's exhibit was entitled "The Light of Tomorrow" and featured an animated mannequin playing with a Ronson lighter.

  • Russell Wright and Donald Deskey were among the architects who designed rooms for the "America at Home" exhibit.

  • The 1939 NYWF was first American World's fair to be sanctioned by the BIE.

  • The BIE sanctioned another Fair in 1939. The Exposition Internationale in Liège, Belgium.



  • The World's Largest Cash Register (NCR) kept attendance.

  • The 1939 World's Poultry Congress Exposition was held in Cleveland, Ohio.

  • You could see world and sporting news on a translux screen in the White Owl Building.

  • The Food Show in Food Building No. 3 was designed by Russell Wright (1904-1976).

  • Coca-Cola's exhibit, "Bottling Plant of Tomorrow", produced 140 bottles of Coke per minute on a viewable 140 foot counter. In the theatre you could watch the movie "Refreshment Through The Years".

  • 150 pedigreed cows were on display in the "The Dairy World of Tomorrow" exhibit in the Borden Building. Along with the 50 stall "rotolactor" on which cows were milked twice daily.

  • The "rotolactor" was also known as the Rotary Combine Milking System.

  • "Voder" was the name for the electronically synthesized speech mechanism in the ATT Building.

  • Part of the Wonder Bread Building resembled the design of their bread wrapper.

  • Owens-Illinois Glass Company displayed historical bottles in the Distilled Spirits Exhibit.

  • Carrier displayed their air-conditioning systems in a 75 foot tall igloo. Outside were two 48 foot high thermometers registering the inside and outside temperatures.

  • The Elgin National Watch Company's building contained a water-clock an astronomical observatory that was a replica of the actual observatory in Elgin. Elgin was the only company that celestially calibrated their mechanisms.

  • Corning Glass Works displayed the largest piece of clear crystal glass that Steuben ever made.




  • The former Georgia State Building becomes the American Legion Building.

  • The Soviet exhibit was closed for 1940 due to the outbreak of war.

  • The former Soviet Union Building becomes the American Common Building.

  • "Elsie the Cow" moved into an "Early Barn-Colonial Boudoir". Elsie's Cookbook was given free to visitors.

  • The Polish Pavilion flies it's flag at half-mast for the season.

  • Fountain Lake becomes Liberty Lake.

  • The World's Largest Cash Register is moved to the Great White Way.


The Close


  • The Fair closes as Jack Teagarten's Orchestra plays "Man and His Dream" .

  • The World's Fair ends in a sea of financial losses.

  • The Trylon and Perisphere are dismantled and handed over to the US military.

  • The New York State Amphitheatre and New York City Building become the only remaining permanent structures.

  • The remaining buildings and structures are torn down and the area becomes Flushing Meadows Park.


Billy Rose's Aquacade



  • Location: New York Amphitheatre, Liberty lake.

  • Cost: $1,000,000.

  • Featured Aquabelle Eleanor Holm and Larry "Buster" Crabbe.

  • Cast: 500 people.

  • Band: Vincent Lopez and his Orchestra.

  • Amphitheatre Seating: 10,000 people.

  • Stage: 311 feet long, 200 feet wide.

  • Man-made Waterfall: 40 feet high, 260 feet wide.

  • Pumps (4): 8,000 gallons per minute.

  • Rainbow Curtain: 40 feet high.

  • Roof Lighting: 250 two-thousand watt lamps, 64 four-thousand watt lamps.

  • Side Lighting: 96 two-thousand watt lamps.

  • Arc Lights: 8 one hundred-fifty amp lamps.

  • Eleanor Holm won a gold medal in the 100m backstroke at the 1932 Olympic games. She was also a member of Billy Roses Aquacade at the 1936-37 Great lakes Exposition.

  • An estimated one out of every six people visited the Aquacade.


Boy Scout Camp


  • Location: adjacent to the Federal Building.

  • Area: 80,000 square feet.

  • Visiting Hours: 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM daily.

  • Troops (4): 33 scouts each.

  • Scout Leaders: 3.

  • Their program stated that 1/3 of troops were sightseeing, 1/3 were at camp and 1/3 of them were providing services such as honor guard and ceremonial duties.


Firestone Tire & Rubber Company


  • Location: Court of Ships.

  • Architect: CD Smith, Wilbur Watson & Associates.

  • Designer: George W McLaughlin.

  • Fin: 100 feet high.

  • The tire factory produced a finished tire every 4 minutes.

  • The life-size Typical American Farm Display featured livestock and modern farming equipment.

  • The Singing Color Fountain was also featured at the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago.


General Motors Building


  • Location: Avenue of Transportation.

  • Architect: Albert Kahn, Inc (1869-1942).

  • Designer: Norman Bel Geddes (1893-1958).

  • Divisions Represented: 30.

  • Casino of Science: 650 seats.

  • Area: 7 acres (36,000 square feet).

  • Buildings (4): 4-6 stories high.

  • The intersection between the four buildings was built to resemble a futuristic full-scale intersection of 1960, complete with elevated walks.

  • Was the third largest building at the Fair.

  • Exhibits included: the Frig-o-Therm, the "x-ray" car by Fisher Body, the "Futurama" and GM's 25,000,000th automobile.





About this SiteAdd a LinkPrivacy Policy | Subscribe Newsletter  | Site FAQContact Us

Earth Station 9 Banners & Logo © 2002 red. website © Copyright 1997-2003, Stan  Daniloski. All Rights Reserved website © 1995-1999 James Charles Kaelin