1939 New York World's Fair

Building the world of tomorrow

April 30 - October 31, 1939 and May 11 - October 27, 1940


The date of this exhibition was chosen to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the accession of the first American President George Washington. But in fact, the New York personalities were dishonoured because in 1939 Chicago had received the first American World's Fair. All means were good to organize a world exhibition in New York, they told F. D. Roosevelt in 1935, who accepted the initiative without hesitation.

After the constitution of a group of 96 people for the organization of the event, the decision of the place of this exhibition was stopped: it would take place on the old dump of Queens.
The chosen site was in fact a scrap metal dump as well as a swampy area. In order to make the land usable, three years of work were needed to drain the swamp, remove the scrap metal, make the land usable and plant 10,000 trees.

A national fundraising campaign was organised to raise money, and private capital and aid from the City of New York were also added.

On 16 November 1936, President Roosevelt invited nations from around the world to participate in the event; 58 nations responded in the affirmative. 30 states and many industrialists later joined the ranks.

The exhibition was structured in 9 zones, the centre of which was the exhibition emblem "Trylon and Perisphere". The company pavilions were positioned more prominently than the national pavilions because the organisers believed that capitalism was more beneficial to humanity than nationalism.

The Second World War was in full swing during this exhibition, which spoiled the party somewhat. The exhibition did its utmost to give the conflict a prominent place by informing visitors about the events in many pavilions.

Robert Mose, New York's Director of Open Space, wanted to turn the exhibition grounds into a park once the festival was over, but unfortunately, given the exhibition's deficit, there was no money left to make his dream come true. And it was not until 1964, after the second exhibition, that the park took shape under the name of Flushing Meadows.

Finally, despite the 50 million visitors who came during the two years of the exhibition, it did not achieve the expected turnover and had a deficit of $18 million.