Few visitors to "The World of Tomorrow" realized the fair planners of today often manipulated their fair- going experience.
Experiencing the World of Tomorrow
While Dorothy Gale may have entered the enchanted land of Oz in 1939, millions of others experienced firsthand their own bewitching fantasy. From the moment the train or subway stopped, these intrepid voyagers left behind the sepia everyday and quickly stepped into the beguiling World of Tomorrow, an atmosphere that intentionally assaulted every sense.
Exiting the car at the Long Island Railroad station, fair visitors were surrounded in blue-violet light. As they formally entered the fairgrounds, the lighting changed to a golden yellow, the idea to heighten the fair's color effects through optical phenomena.
Passing through the turnstiles, visitors tended to turn right. Exhibitors located on the left complained to fair officials that all entrance turnstiles stood on the right and the exit turnstiles to the left. It was one of the only consumer-oriented miscues by the fair planners.
The first impression often overwhelmed the senses. Elizabeth Wye wrote: "Tomorrow's world appeared to be a place of flags, flowers and fountains … of dazzling colors and odd shapes … of towering chalk white statues … of tractor trains tootling "The Sidewalks of New York. " Echoing Dorothy's famous line, Ms. Wye noted, "New York was never like this."
Few previous fairs or expositions attempted to make the journey into their wonderlands as effortless and carefree as did Whalen's Wonder.
Drinking fountains, notably absent in previous endeavors, sprouted up everywhere. Four-hundred water dispensers stood in clusters of four to six throughout Flushing Meadows. The exhibition buildings held an additional three hundred.
For those with "fair feet," newly-designed benches allowed for a few minutes respite. William Ritt observed the fair didn't overlook anyone in its efforts to please. The columnist joked: "Grouches can sit and grouse on benches beneath a transplanted grove of crabapple trees."
And, an often overlooked fact, the fair provided dressing rooms in various locations, equipped with mirrors, tables and accessories. For ten cents women could relax and refresh in one of the seventy-five provided for their pleasure. There were fifty-three for men.
Music accompanied fairgoers throughout the fairgrounds. "Canned" music was broadcast over twenty – four batteries of well-concealed loudspeakers strategically located over Flushing Meadows, with the largest battery placed under the Perisphere.
The fair's orchestra, the Trytons, provided much of the "canned music." By the closing day, over 300,000 of their recordings reached the fairgoers' ears. When not recording, the orchestra played special requests between 4:00 and 5:00 during their concert time before the Consumers Building.
No vocal arrangements were allowed over the fair's elaborate sound system. However, a live broadcast of the Louis-Galento boxing match proved a rare exception to the music – only dictate. The only time the complete system was tuned to a single broadcast, however, occurred on opening day when President Roosevelt spoke.
Twice during the day, Al Frazin, of Madison Square Garden fame, announced a resume of the day's events. And at 5:59 the only live musical broadcast occurred when an individual struck "The Angelus" by hand.