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The World's Fair and Exposition
Information and Reference Guide

1939 New York World's Fair
Page Two




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

  • The Worlds Fair and Exposition Information and Reference Guide is coming to CD with 734 more facts and trivia on this Fair plus information and photographs on 23 more World's Fairs and Exposition's.

  • Estimated Release Date: August 15, 2004. Progress and information can be found here.

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




Page One


The following categories are on CD
High Resolution Images (15)
more Statistics (20) Government Zone (65)
more Facts and Trivia (20) Hall of Communication (9)
Main Vendors 1939 (19) Hall of Fashion (6)
Main Vendors 1940 (16) Hall of Industrial Science (6)
Architects (Miscellaneous) (22) Hall of Pharmacy (11)
ATT (3) Home Building Center (4)
American Art Today (1940) (7) Home Furnishings Building (15)
American Common (1940) (6) House of Jewels (9)
American Tobacco Company (7) League of Nations (7)
Aviation Building (5) Marine Transportation
Building (11)
BF Goodrich Building (9) Maritime, Transport and Communications Building (13)
Business Systems
and Insurance Building (26)
Medical and Public
Health Building (20)
Chrysler Building (10) Men's Apparel Quality Guild (7)
Consolidated Edison
of New York (15)
Metal's Building (5)
Consumers Building (10) Operations Building (2)
Contemporary Arts Building (6) Parachute Ride (15)
Coty Building (6) Petroleum Industries (11)
Crosley Radio Corporation (5) RCA Building (24)
Court of States (18) Schaefer Center (7)
Eastern Railroads
Presidents' Conference (47)
Sculptures and Murals (66)
Electrical Products Building (7) Standard Brands (9)
Electric Utilities Building (7) Star Pylon (4)
Food Building (17) Swift & Company (9)
Ford Building (15) Temple of Religion (12)
Gardens on Parade (5) Town of Tomorrow (20)
Gas Exhibits Building (7) Postage Stamps (5)
General Electric Building (7) US Steel Building (9)
Glass Center Building (8) World of Fashion (3)
Bonus: 1939-40 Timeline (105)



Heinz Dome


  • Location: Rainbow Avenue, Constitution Mall.

  • Architects: Leonard M Schultze, Archibald Brown.

  • Designers: Skidmore & Owings, John Moss.

  • Sculpture: "Sea Maid" by Raymond Barger.

  • Mural: "Foods" by Domenico Mortellito.

  • Dome: 75 feet high.

  • Furnished Kitchens (8): 4 American, 4 European.

  • Six interior murals by Domenico Mortellito foretold the story of food.

  • The three murals above the entranceway by Davis Fredenthal had a sports theme.

  • Tomatoes grew on vines 10 feet high.

  • Heinz has distributed free "pickle" pins at every major exposition in which they have participated since 1893.

  • The Heinz icon, "Aristocrat Tomato Man", entertained the crowd.

  • The Academy of Sports exhibit displayed sports trophies.

  • The "Golden Laurel" for outstanding achievement in sports for 1938 was awarded in this building.


Masterpieces of Art


  • Location: Street of Wheels.

  • Architects: Wallace K. Harrison and André Fouilhoux.

  • Pavilions: 3.

  • Galleries (1939): 25.

  • Galleries (1940): 18.

  • Paintings (1939): 500.

  • Paintings (1940): 300.

  • Value: $30,000,000.

  • First Pavilion: Gothic Room, 13th and 14th Century French and Italian sculptures and paintings, 15th and 16th century Dutch, French and German paintings.

  • Second Pavilion: 16th century Umbrian paintings; 17th century French paintings; Italian masters of the High Renaissance; French, Italian and Spanish Baroque.

  • Second Pavilion Exhibits by: Bellini, Da Vinci, El Greco, Giorgone, Guardi, Lorrain, Mantegna, Michelangelo, Perugino, Poussin, Raphael, Tiepolo, Tintoretto, Titian, Veronese.

  • Third Pavilion: 16th and 18th century Belgian, Dutch, English, French and Spanish paintings.

  • Third Pavilion Exhibits: Boucher, Constable, Fragonard, Goya, Hals, Hogarth, Murillo, Rembrandt, Reubens, Turner, Van Dyck, Velasquez, Vermeer, Wilson.

  • Foreign Exhibitors: Belgium, England, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain.

  • Funding was underwritten by anonymous private donors and the site was donated free of cost by the World's Fair Committee.


New York City Building


  • Location: City Hall Square.

  • Architects: Aymar Embury, II.

  • Area: 163,750 square feet.

  • WNYC broadcast events from the balcony.

  • Approximately 8,000,000 people lived in NYC at this time.

  • The building was to be home to a public sports palace after the Fair closed.

  • The ice rink, built after the 1939 NYWF, is still in operation.

  • Is the only remaining structure from the 1939 NYWF.

  • Became the headquarters for the United Nations General Assembly (1946-1951).

  • The building was renovated and became the New York City Building for the 1964 World's Fair.

  • The huge 3-D Panorama of the City of New York made for the 1964 World's Fair can still be seen today, but unfortunately it's been updated to present-day.

  • Today it is the Queens Museum of Art (1972-present).


New York State Building and Fountain Lake Amphitheatre


  • Location: Empire State Bridge, Fountain Lake.

  • Architects: Sloan and Robertson.

  • Stage: 180 feet wide.

  • The stage was separated from land by an 60 foot canal of water.

  • Fountain Lake was changed to "Liberty Lake" in 1940.


Trylon and Perisphere


  • Architects: Wallace K. Harrison and André Fouilhoux.

  • Designer: Henry Dreyfus (1929-1972).

  • The structures were initially to be constructed of concrete. But due to the expense, it was changed to a steel frame construction with stucco.

  • One of the original plans called for a sphere suspended by wires. It was later changed to a sphere supported by pillars.

  • 1,000 timber piles weighing 6,000 tons supported the Trylon and Perisphere.

  • Was reproduced on more than 25,000 items.



  • Theme: Democracity.

  • Planned Size: 18 stories tall, 200 feet in diameter.

  • Actual Size: 18 stories tall, 180 feet in diameter.

  • Circumference: 628 feet.

  • Support: 8 steel columns on a concrete ring which sat on 600 piles.

  • Perisphere Booklet: "Democracity" by Gilbert Seldes.

  • The original size was reduced due to budget limitations.

  • The name is derived from "peri" meaning "beyond, all around, about".

  • More than 1,000 sketches were submitted.

  • It took over 100 people to keep the exhibit running.

  • The revolving balcony called 'The Magic Carpet'.

  • William Grant Still (1895-1978) wrote the theme song, Rising Tide. It was played continually in the Perisphere.

  • Twice the size of Radio City Music Hall.

  • The support columns were mirror-like giving the illusion that the Perisphere was floating.

  • The Perisphere was the only structure on the grounds that had floodlights.



  • "Democracity" was the planned city of tomorrow, in the year 2039.

  • Population: 1,000,000 people.

  • Working Population: 250,000 people.

  • Satellite Towns: 5.

  • Focal Zones: 7.

  • The entrance was 50 feet above ground, you rode the longest moving electric stairway in the world to get to it.

  • Visitors walked onto one of two revolving suspended platforms to view "Democracity".

  • The platforms revolved in opposite directions and took 6 minutes to make a complete revolution.

  • The shows were continuous and lasted six minutes.

  • For Halloween, the Perisphere was resembled an orange jack-o-lantern.



  • Planned Size: 700 feet tall, 3 sided.

  • Actual Size: 610 feet tall, 3 sided.

  • The original size was reduced due to budget limitations.

  • The name is derived from "tri" meaning three-sided and "pylon" meaning "monumental gateway".

  • Was the tallest structure on the grounds and used as an antenna for television and radio signals.

  • The Trylon and Perisphere were connected by a giant ramp called the Helicline.

  • A Frank Paul illustration on the cover of Science Fiction magazine Number2 showed the Trylon and Perisphere being attacked by spaceships.



  • Size: 950 foot long, 18 feet wide.

  • The idea for a ramp to join the two structures was derived from drawings by a Soviet constructivist architect named Jacob Tchernikhov.


Westinghouse Building


  • Location: Plaza of Light.

  • Architect: Skidmore & Owings, John Moss.

  • Waterfall: 120 feet high.

  • Rooms: Hall of Electrical Power, Hall of Electrical Living.

  • The "Immortal Well" (between the two rooms) housed the "time capsule".

  • Millions of pages of microfilm were enclosed in the "time capsule" to be opened in 5,000 years.

  • "Elektro" the 8 foot metal robot could see, smoke, talk, sing and count. "Sparko" was his barking companion.


Links, Resources, Sources



Resources, Sources - Books


  • Food at the Fair. A Gastronomic Tour of the World. Crosby Gaige. Exposition Publications. 1939.

  • Official Guide Book of the New York World's Fair 1939. Exposition Publications.

  • Official Guide Book of the New York World's Fair 1940. Exposition Publications.

  • Official Souvenir Book of the New York World's Fair 1939. Exposition Publications.

  • Science For The World of Tomorrow. Dr Gerald Wendt.

  • The Fairs of the Past - the Fair of Tomorrow. Encyclopedia Britannica.

  • The Lost World of the Fair. David H. Gelernter, 1939. Free Press, New York. 1995.

  • The World of Tomorrow: the 1939 New York World's Fair. Larry Zim.



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