The 1939 New York World’s Fair and America During WW2

1939 New York World's Fair
Via WikiMedia Commons

The 1939 New York World’s Fair was a significant cultural milestone for several reasons. It was an optimistic look to the future for a country emerging from the Great Depression. However, it was also presented against the backdrop of World War 2.

What Was the 1939 New York World’s Fair?

The concept for this World’s fair came about in 1935. The idea was to use an international exposition to help the city and the country to overcome the economic challenges of the Great Depression. Ultimately, it did not come into being until April of 1939. Lasting over a year (April 1939-October 1940) the exhibition featured different areas dedicated to art, culture, and technological advancement from around the world.

The “Dawn of a New Day”

The theme of the fair was an optimistic one. As the United States was coming out of a depression, those in attendance needed hope more than anything. With the slogan “Dawn of a New Day,” the event hoped to give fairgoers a positive look into “the world of tomorrow.”

Shadow of War

While the theme was hopeful, the realities of the world were a little more bleak. World War 2 was underway as Americans gathered in New York for the World’s Fair. These two events were in some ways in contrast with each other (the brutality of a present war set against hope for the future.) In other ways, however, the New York World’s Fair was an important reflection of the world at a crucial turning point in our history.

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