The New York World's Fair closed its 1939 edition on Halloween evening. Crowds jammed the seven zones and the Perisphere glowed like a bright, orange Jack-o-Lantern. Celebrations filled the Fairgrounds. However, an air of pessimism hung heavily over the celebrants as many wondered if the Fair would see a second season.
The optimistic viewpoint of "The World of Tomorrow," expressed just six months earlier at the Fair's, opening suddenly crashed headlong into the reality of the present. Hitler's troops had invaded Poland on September 1, igniting the second world war in 21 years.
The Fair did reopen in 1940. However, the theme changed from "Building the World of Tomorrow" to "For Peace and Freedom." Several foreign pavilions no longer existed and many nations altered their exhibits to reflect the presence of war. The vigor of 1939's "World of Tomorrow" seemed vanquished.
New York Governor Grover Whalen expressed it best. In IBM's Fair edition of THINK, Whalen wrote, "...this great exposition is an achievement so timely as to be of transcendental significance. ...Architecture, the arts, science, finance, government, education and religion...all have given of their best talent in order to prove the truth of that premise (that we are on the threshold of a new era of greater promise). ...Time alone can reveal the ultimate effect of this colossal achievement... ."
"The World of Tomorrow" lives today in the culmination of its predictions and in pages like these.
David J. Cope