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tv   1939 Worlds Fair  CSPAN  April 20, 2022 8:34pm-10:10pm EDT

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anytime at c-span.org/history. let me tell you about our speaker this evening. dr. alan pietro ban is an assistant professor of global affairs at trinity washington university since 2011. he has also served as an assistant director of research at the nuclear nuclear studies institute and his primary research and teaching areas are modern us history in us foreign policy focusing on nuclear weapons policies and cold war diplomacy. but he also believes in making education more accessible to people outside of universities.
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so he works to give public presentations on wide ranging topics like the cultural impact of road trips throughout american history. they rise of the american suburbs the gilded age the role prohibition played in shaping the 1920s the history of food and dining in the us or like this one had the 1939 world's fair in vision the future. now alan will also be back with us on january 11th to discuss kennedy nixon in the debate of the century. we hope you will consider joining us. now we're so excited to have alan with us this. things without any further ado. please join me in welcoming alan pietro bun. thank you for that generous introduction heather. i am dr. alan pietro bond a professor of global affairs and modern american history at trinity washington university here in dc and i want to start tonight. by giving you a number 1939 it's
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one of those years that stands out in history. for those who know their history, it's a year that evokes a reaction much like 1776 with the american revolution or perhaps 1989 with the fall of the berlin wall or 9/11. there are just some dates that just sear themselves into the historical memory. and 1939 holds special significance because it's the year world war two begins. hitler's armies role in the poland sparking a global war that would go on for nearly six years and result and upwards of 85 million people killed. that starts september 1st. 1939 and much much less
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remembered is the fact that that exact same day. the united states president franklin roosevelt extended a formal invitation for all european nations. to return to the united states in 1940 to continue celebrating the next season of the ongoing new york world's fair. his invitation said quote the continuing hope of the nation's must be that they will increasingly understand each other. and the new york world's fair is one of the many channels by which this continuing conception of peace may be known. end quote and yet on that same september day that the war broke out the ongoing new york world's fair saw record attendance numbers. it had sort of become a de facto
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gathering ground for those who wished for comfort or solace. or maybe just those who wanted to revisit the world as it existed just the previous day. a world not plunged into a catastrophic war. a world of hope for the future the following day on september 2nd the new york times headlines said that europe's turmoil was reflected at the fair. they wrote quote. with bombs bursting over poland yesterday the impact of general war that seemed to threaten europe finally broke with full force at the world's fair. which such a short time ago was dedicated with brave speeches of international peace and goodwill. end quote the 1939 world's fair was supposed to be a celebration
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of mankind's progress a glorious vision of the future literally called the world of tomorrow. and so with that by means of a teaser what i want to explore in tonight's presentation is exactly that how did this fair full of such promise? collapse into the fires of world war two and what vision of the future did it present? how far off were we? so for about the next hour or so, i'm going to explore this fascinating moment in history, and then there'll be plenty of time at the end for some q&a so you can feel free to enter it into the question in box throughout or hang on to it for the end. and i want to begin by looking not just at the world's fair and the vision for the future that it presented but really the fact that there was an enormous
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amount riding on this single event. and event, that would be marred by the outbreak of war. so, let me set the scene and give first the general overview and then we're gonna come back through and fill in some of the gaps expand expand our context a little bit. because our story sees us. on october or rather april thought october april 30th, 1939 a muggy sunday afternoon. when the new york world's fair had its grand opening with over 200,000 people in attendance. it wasn't especially exciting moment because franklin roosevelt the president of the united states was going to be there there to officially open the fair. i'll show you a newsreel from that moment. america's world of tomorrow is ready for its formal debut the mighty exhibition, which is a
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monument to imagination showmanship and industry. to see the exhibits of 58 nations crowds pour in from subways trains buses and cars half a million strong and for 40,000 invited guests. the moment has come. right speaks in the court of peace i hear my dedicate. the world's fair the new york world's fair of 1939 and i declare it. open to all mankind. should have mentioned before it started. it's an old video clip and depending on your speed of your internet connection. it might the video might be a bit choppy, but the audio should come through fine. but right from that very moment. this fair was already opening a window on the future the world
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of tomorrow because roosevelt's speech was broadcast on a brand new invention that was being debuted for the first time at the fair. television roosevelt's speech launched the very first scheduled television broadcast tv station in america. nbc that first broadcast station breathlessly proclaimed the president's address was being beamed from a transmitter at the very top of the empire state building the signal which could reach for a whole 25 miles. now in reality only about a thousand people we think tuned in because there were only about 200 tvs in existence in new york at that time mainly because this is what a television look like at the time. five inch screens smaller than some of your cell phones today. it wasn't even technically black
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and white. it was actually a weird greenish hue. and if you the regular person wanted to buy themselves a television it cost today's equivalent of about $4,000. for that wooden box but this was an incredible thing that we now know in hindsight would really go on to introduce the world of tomorrow. but the irony here and the one that would continuously haunt the entire world's fair. was the fact that while this may have been the first broadcast in america. it was nazi germany that beat us to it. by three years the first live television broadcast was the opening of the or the opening ceremony of the 1936 olympics in berlin where hitler featured
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prominently. it has a interesting thought experiment inside note the astrophysicist carl sagan once considered that since this was the first mass tv broadcast sent out on radio waves that might mean that perhaps the first message that aliens encounter the first transmission from earth would be a picture of hitler. but back to roosevelt's speech. as exciting as this moment was there were some storm clouds gathering. a reporter asked a fair representative wouldn't a european war completely ruined the fair. and the representative responded there will be no war that's all newspaper. talk europe is excited about this fair. in fact, it's all they're talking about not about some war. well not everyone would have agreed with that statement.
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the fair was open to all countries. each country was invited to attend and build a pavilion to exhibit their culture their their products their industries and hitler's germany had signed a contract to build the pavilion in new york city. and there was a lot of consternation at the time in america about whether to let nazi germany even attend. two years earlier at an exposition in paris. the nazis had also been invited and they built a giant and imposing building with a swastikas all over. and this was meant to be a bold display of nazi. germany's reimagined role within the global community. what they were projecting was that hitler's totalitarian form of rule was good and not just not just good. but it was the way of the
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future. that democracies were old and fading they were a thing of the past that national socialism, right? nazism was a new political project to be taken seriously to be respected and even to be admired was the image they wanted to project. in fact, the organizers in paris had put the nazi building on the left of this image and the building for the soviet union on the right directly facing off against each other. and germany leaned into this idea that national socialism was a welcome bulwark against the evils of communism. and so right away this illustrates one of the major clashes of 1939 the major fears that overshadowed not just the fair.
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but overshadowed that moment in american life the idea that was real at the time that maybe we in america were about to be overtaken by these two countries that offered alternative and more modern political systems. and to understand the reason why this was a fear. let me go back for a moment to put this fair in the context of its time which of course was in the midst of the great depression. by the time the fair opened in 1939 the united states had been through 10 years of economic calamity a 27% unemployment rate at time. this is a time in american life when both family most families did without. without extra food without an extra pair of shoes without going to the dentist. a time before there was modern
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medicine or penicillin which meant that a child or an adult for that matter could die of a sore throat or a simple cut that got infected. this was the time when most roads in the nation were made of dirt. not even gravel, like literally just a dirt that turned completely to mud when it rained. in 1939 fewer than 25% of people living in rural areas had electricity. and that should astonish you this is 50 years after electricity is commercialized and still only 25% of people in rural areas in america have it. and this is a time when the national emergency council reported that much of the southern united states was and i'm quoting from the report. a belt of sickness misery and
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unnecessary death from syphilis hookworm malnutrition typhoid fever and malaria end quote the us south was so underdeveloped that it's more akin to what we'd probably recognize today is a third world country malaria typhoid fever malnutrition. and so there was a growing understanding among the american population that as the great depression dragged on and on and on for a decade. that seemed to indicate that seemed to prove. that capitalism as an economic system was a failure. and worse overlaying that was the democracy as a governing system also had failed. it seemed unable to remedy the problem. democracy was old slow creaky subject to the whims of the masses on one hand and on the other hand held hostage by
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bickering politicians all trying to pursue their own political interests. democracy was obsolete. and in contrast a bold and most importantly new political system had arisen starting in europe in the 1920s the system of fascism. it originates in italy and then it spreads to germany and the fastest fascist ideology argues that liberal democracies are doomed their past that only a one-party state led by a strong leader in charge of a martial law government that could tightly control the population that only that government could respond effectively to economic problems and forge the positive national unity required to maintain a stable and prosperous and orderly society. the problem was that approach
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seemed to be working in the 1930s. fascist italy and germany seem to be doing well thriving even in 1935 the german autobahn was opened a full 20 years before the us interstate system was even inaugurated. in 1936 the german economy in the midst of the global great depression. germany was roaring at full employment. and so there were many in the united states throughout the 1930s including members of the united states government who pointed to nazi germany and thought that perhaps the way out of the great depression was for america to be more like germany. but it's even worse than that. that maybe fascism with its strict control of society wasn't quite your cup of tea.
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well, that's okay because there's yet another new alternative to democracy. communism in the 1930s the soviet economy was also booming was rapidly industrializing so much so that there were russian recruiters working in the united states to recruit out of work americans to move to russia to work where there were more jobs than there were people and tens of thousands of americans did move to russia in the 1930s in search of a better jobs a better way of life than what they at least thought they had in america which what america offered at the time was a huge number of shanty towns that had populated the outskirts of almost every major american city. now to be clear the early 1930s. this was largely before we had learned about the atrocities of the soviet union and to a lesser
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extent of nazi germany. these were seen as largely respectable prosperous european nations. and so in 1939 american style capitalism and democracy was under challenge and no one quite knew how things were turned out. maybe the fascists were right that just like democracy had superseded monarchy, maybe fascism and communism were the next logical steps in human political development that they had solved the problems of politics. so to say that most americans had experienced these years as a constant stream of obstacles and struggles and and existential fear would have been about right. to some nazi germany was the positive model of the future. but to others in fact to most they were up in arms in america about allowing a repressive
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freedom restricting german state to participate in this fair, which was focused on freedom and the future for one the mayor of new york city fiorella laguardia never missed an opportunity opportunity to heckle hitler claiming that if germany was allowed to attend then the fair also had to contain a building that he called the chamber of horrors. he said quote. containing a figure of that brown shirted fanatic who is now menacing the peace of the world end quote. the nation magazine said no swastikas at the world's fair. ultimately despite these clashes it would come to not because the germans would withdraw on their own from the fair at the last minute. partly, i mean they claimed it was because of the foreign exchange problem. they didn't have enough money, but it was really as a protest and a front to what they saw as
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insults against their nation. so many were happy germany withdrew. but perhaps they're absence from a peaceful gathering of nations. maybe they're absence should have been ominous in and of itself. down the road from where the nazi pavilion was meant to have been constructed was the pavilion of the independent nation of poland. except we now know when hindsight that just five months after the fair opened the nazis would invade and overtake poland. by the end of the world's fair which runs to the end of 1940. the polish pavilion was draped in black because the country technically no longer existed. it's exhibits were partly sold off by the exiled government to help pay the bills. the soviet union that other
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italian state also a relatively new country at the time. it was only officially recognized by the united states in 1933. just a handful of years earlier. but the soviets were granted a prime location at the fair and they built a massive pavilion. the soviets 2. we're using the fair to project a positive image of communism. their official statement read quote the soviet union is a country which has ended the exploitation of men by men. eliminated racial and national animosities and in which 170 million people of different nationalities are united in an equal freedom. end quote if i had told you that was the soviet union you might think that's the united states using that kind of language. except five months later this soviets would join with the
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nazis to invade and destroy poland. italy had a major pavilion. italy also a fascist government at the time. in fact, it was italy that essentially invents modern fascism with the italian leader mussolini predating hitler by about 10 years. and i think you might be getting the theme here. five months later mussolini sides with hitler japan japan's pavilion was modeled to look like a shinto shrine, which was a religious belief in japan that many americans thought encouraged an aggressive and militaristic culture. japan had already been at war with china for eight years and had just two years earlier in 1937 committed an atrocity in manking where japanese soldiers
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murdered 300,000 civilians. but in new york their dedication at the fair read quote. dedicated to eternal peace and friendship between america and japan. end quote except americans should probably already have been suspicious about eternal peace and friendship between their nation and japan because on the grand opening day the us navy fleet was supposed to visit new york city as part of the ceremony. but because of aggressive moves being made by japan in the south china sea, the fleet visit was canceled and the us navy was instead deployed to the pacific as a show of force against japan. you get the point? one year later the japanese would launch a massive surprise attack against the united states at pearl harbor.
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eternal peace and friendship they said so my goodness if the 1939 world's fair was supposed to be this world of tomorrow this bright vision of the future. yikes, right we couldn't have been more dead wrong. world war two would break out five months into the fair and americans would be dragged into the war just about a year after that in what became the most deadly war humanitarian humanity had ever seen. this moment of hope had turned into a moment of crisis. which was truly terrible because the world's fair was supposed to transcend that. and that's why april 1939 was so exciting. because the world's fair was designed to leave the current doldrums behind and look to an
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inspiring new future that the decade of the terrible 1930s the the dirty thirties as it were we're about to end and a better future in the decade of the 1940s would unfold. the idea that the 1940s would be a dawn of a new era of peace and freedom. printed right there on the ticket stub and the designers of this 1939 world's fair truly tried to project a positive view of the future. a view of the future that was so far in the future that the westinghouse company even buried a time capsule. fact is it fun bar? trivia the very word time capsule was coined for this event. in fact, they buried two time capsules because they wanted some redundancy since these time capsules weren't set to be opened until the year 6,939.
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not to be opened for five thousand years. that's how long americans thought this nation would last. that's how far in the future they were looking which if you ask me is a severe case of hubris because even the roman empire the most powerful and longest lasting empire in the history of the world lasted about a thousand years. and looking forward as a side note the area where this time capsule was buried is only about seven feet above sea level. so the projection is and then not too distant future. this will be underwater due to climate change. but they didn't know that back then and this time capsule was meant to preserve a record of life in 1938. so they put in it what they said were 124 commonly used items. items like tooth powder they had
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a mazda lamp basically a light bulb, although today. we kind of call these things edison lights the old timey time lights. they had copies of life magazine. they had a mickey mouse watch they had a gillette safety razor, which was a new technology not having to use a straight razor and slit your neck with it. they had a kewpie doll. and i'll admit i had to look up what a qp doll was. it's this creepy thing, but it was the hottest children's story of the era. they had a dollar and spare change. they had an asbestos shingle because why not and of course they had the coolest thing of all. cigarettes give your throat a vacation says this doctor. but they also included a letter.
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from the famed scientist albert einstein who was appointed to be the science advisor for the ferry, he was alive at this time and he explained in the letter he put in his time capsule that in the time in which he lived his society had and i quote learned to fly and we are able to send messages and news without any difficulty over the entire world through electronic waves and quote. what he's talking about? is the radio which was the technology that was relatively new at the time. in fact, one of the brand new technologies that was debuted at the fair was a facsimile machine that could use radio waves to transmit a newspaper to be printed out right in your home. it's kind of amazing. except the data transmission would take about 18 minutes per
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page to print. but back then you don't need a paper boy on a bicycle anymore. this is sort of today like a scrolling through our phones to read the news right in the comfort of your own home. but back to einstein because more ominously. his letter also wrote some hard truths. where he said quote? people living in different countries kill each other at irregular intervals. so that also for this reason anyone who thinks of the future must live in fear and terror end quote. not exactly an inspiring message for the future. but einstein would be proven right and probably sooner than he would have thought because he more than most probably felt that fear for the future. einstein had already renounced his original german citizenship in protest of hitler and he had
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left germany where he was living after hitler took power effectively becoming a refugee and eventually landing in the united states. two days before the fair opened hitler would withdraw from the german polish non-aggression pact. and the storm clouds would continue to gather over europe. but i want to step back again for a moment to fill in a bit of background here because what even is a world's fair anymore? well, these things were created first in the late 1700s in france where it was meant to be held every five years kind of like the olympics. in fact the world's fair predates the modern olympics, which only got started around the turn of the 1900s. the world's fair was created in this time where competition in europe was heating up. nations were battling each other for superiority. and so the french thought that it would be good to have some
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sort of exhibition where each country could gather and show off how amazing it was all of its culture and products and and everything. it's it excelled at but this could foster friendly competition instead of war. and that world's fair circuit was just as competitive if not more competitive than the modern olympics are. the host nation would build huge in ornate buildings to host the fair. each country would put on elaborate exhibits. hundreds of thousands millions would attend and these fairs would be talked about the world over. they'd run for two years at a time and and ultimately in 1939 44 million people attended. these fairgrounds were so huge it would often take multiple days. in in fact, it was recommended that if you attend the new york world's fair that you spend two
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weeks to see it all multiple days. but really these used to be huge events and they sort of started to fizzle after the 1960s. although i myself will admit to being surprised to find out there's literally a world's fair going on right now in dubai. the last one was in 2015 in italy, so they're still happening. they're just a shadow of their former glory. but back to 1939. it is the us's turn to host the fair again, and the genesis came back in 1936 when the site's location was selected in queens, new york. an area part of which at the time was a garbage dump 15 stories tall. and the fact that the fair was constructed on top of a notorious garbage heap. was maybe yet another unintended
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irony about what the future would bring. in order for the fair to be profitable they had to get major european nations to attend and in a major way and this started off poorly. both britain and france agreed to construct very small pavilions and only on the condition that the united states paid for them. but then guy named grover whalen the president of the world's fair corporation. he decided he was gonna play a little dirty. he figured that the path to success the way to get the big important western european nations to come. was to get in bed with their top rivals. that if wayland could get nazi germany or the soviet union to attend in a big way then britain and france and the other western european nations would really have to step up their game in order to compete.
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so he promised the ussr a very large and very favorable location to show off the glories of the soviet union. without even haggling over the price stalin agreed to pay four million dollars for the rights to build. which is about 75 million dollars today. and whelan's trick worked. the very next morning he got a call to come to paris to negotiate for a much bigger french presence the french were not going to elect the soviets. take all the glory. but cleverly whale and decided that before he stopped in paris. he was going to make a little detour to italy to sell mussolini on the idea that he couldn't possibly let those
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communists outshine the great fascist nation of italy. he arrives in rome. and waylon would later write quote. as i entered the dictator's office. i saw a highly polished floor at least 200 feet long. often the distance mussolini stood with his back to me looking at the sunset through a massive window. end quote paints a lovely scene, but whelan continues to use flattery to sell the idea to mussolini saying that new york's world of tomorrow well, that was just like mussolini's vision for italy. muslimi was skeptical, but that that sort of sold him. he would claim to wayland that his vision for italy using the government to build the country back up was no different than roosevelt's new deal that did
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italy fascist, you know america democracy. it's the same thing. and when mussolini asked the price after having agreed well and being a gambler upped it from the four he charged the soviets. the great nation of italy a low low price of just five million dollars. written in france quickly increase their partition participation as well and ultimately 62 nations would attend. and the fact that mainly juiced by the soviets and the italians this money flooded in and allowed the fair to expand and prosper at first. but it wasn't just countries attending the fair. partly, the fair was a means to help repair the image of capitalism and corporations, which had rightfully gotten a pretty bad rap during the great depression. a lot of people blamed big
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corporations for the economic doldrums in fact, there was one proposal that to get the economy juiced to get people back to work again. the government should pay companies to hire people to just build things. let's say toasters to build toasters that the government would then take away and bury in the landfill. so that you just have this complete production line of construction and then garbage, but that would keep people employed building this stuff. that's just gonna end up getting thrown out that it was the government's responsibility to keep production production flowing no matter what all that waste doesn't matter as long as the company's profitable. one public relations firm said quote the lack of confidence in capitalist democracy itself must be overcome in the public eye. so major businesses were
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welcomed to open exhibits as well. in fact, this is one of the first times again with whale and being clever about how to make money. he licensed the logo of the world's fair to corporations to print on jackets and mugs and whatever they wanted. this was pretty atypical at the time this sort of corporate branding wasn't really a thing until the world's fair willyn would brag about how much money was pouring in from these licensing deals that companies wanted to get in on the the excitement and sell their wares. and none more so none were more welcome. to open exhibits then general motors the general which spent seven million dollars today's equivalent of about a hundred and thirty two million dollars to build. and incredible pavilion a temporary one 132 million for just two years before they tore
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it down. but this was an astonishing sweeping building that rose ten stories tall. people waited for up to three hours to see the massive futuristic diorama that they had built inside where they would fly over it in these chairs looking down at the world of 1960. this is what they were depicting the world of tomorrow. a world that might seem rather familiar to us today they had skyscrapers. they had 14 lane super highways that they called express motorways. where narrators explained that by using these curved ramps cars could take corners at 50 miles an hour. that was astonishing the top speed the top speed flat out
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pedal to the floor of most cars of the era was 45 miles an hour this you could go around a corner at 50. you don't need to stop at an intersection to turn. in fact that car of 1960 would have a radioactivated beam projected from the front bumper to keep it following a safe distance behind the car ahead. it's what we've got today with those automated cruise controls. but but again keep in mind this was a time when most roads were dirt or gravel cars capped out at 45 miles an hour. most of the skyscrapers in that exhibit had landing pads on their roofs for flying cars. that too was a pretty shocking thing since not even helicopters existed yet. the first successful helicopter flight wouldn't come until six
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months after the fair opened. another similar exhibit inside that round parisphere that was the center piece of the fair. amen to project the future. inside there. they had an exhibit called democracy. course trying to play against nazis in the communists. this is democracy where it depicted a future where people would live outside the city centers in these leafy rural-esque neighborhoods that they called pleasantville's where by using those new express motorways and private automobiles. it would allow a man quick and easy access to his job in the city, but the ability to live outside the city center in a private single-family home in quiet and comfort. they're describing an american
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suburb eight years before the first suburb appears in america. and the idea also that it would be normal for people to drive their own private cars to work. this was at a time when only one in five americans actually owned a car. most walk to work or took public transit. across the fair there were displays of state-of-the-art high-speed railway trains, there were modern airplanes. there were new ocean liners. ford the ford motor company had brand new sedans which fair growers could drive themselves on the so-called road of tomorrow. for the exhibit you could get in a car and drive it around this little test track again. shocking the majority of people in 1939 had never driven a car before only one in five own.
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at the fair addition to cars you could drive and dioramas you could go through they had also what they called the world's longest electric stairway. which is just an escalator, but people lined up to ride this to the top and then ride it back down again. i think the most hilarious thing of all was a giant robot they had on display that it's a key feature was that it could smoke cigarettes a robot. they called electro. pleasure i present to you electro the westinghouse moto man electro. come here and here he comes ladies and gentlemen walking up to greet you under his own power.
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all right, electro. well you tell your story, please. who me? yes you okay toots ladies and gentlemen, i'll be very glad to tell my story. i am a smart fellow as i have a very fine brain. that's the most remarkable thing i've ever seen. that guide make on my football team. why not like joe. i know you enjoy these and are really going to try to give you a nice pleasure out of these so here you got that now on to it. you may now smoke. this cigarette go on.
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oh, yes electro. you do need a light too. don't you? all right. here you are. and folks he's only two years old too. just learning. pleasure that clip is from a promotional film the westinghouse corporation, which built electro had put out. but people were mesmerized by the futuristic technologies that were on display here. but even the carrier corporation built and igloo to show off their brand new technology air conditioning. the idea that humans with the touch of a button could cool themselves down on a hot summer day was astonishing this was so ahead of its time that it wasn't until the 1970s when residential
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air conditioning started to become commonplace in american home. in fact in light of all of these new technologies the narrator at the general motors exhibit said quote. does it seem strange fantastic unbelievable remember this is the year of the 1960s and quote. a fantastic future a world of tomorrow the at&t corporation the phone company had even built and put on display the first device that could synthesize the sound of the human voice the first computerized voice as it were. listen to it here. doesn't ellen well you had the voters say greetings everybody three every happy now. would you have him repeat that in a high void 3 and now in his
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best face in the new yorker magazine described that exhibit probably the best when they called it creepy, but it is and and perhaps depending on how you see it. there was a whole section of the fair devoted kind of creepy things. because it wasn't just countries or corporations on display. there was also an adult entertainment section. adult in every sense of the word with nudie shows with an exhibit called and i quote oscar the obscene octopus. which was a rubber octopus that used its tentacles to slowly strip the bathing suits off of female swimmers. there was also an exhibit called little miracle town featuring
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the world's greatest little people 125 resident midgets who lived in this little mini town that you could walk through and see russia as part of their exhibit didn't do creepy americans were the kings of the creepy here, but russia didn't do little either. they went grandiose. they sent a replica of a subway station in moscow. why a subway station because not only was this just built it was one of the most modern metro systems in the world. but it was also meant to highlight that their communist system of government was truly for the people. that instead of letting capitalist profits go to the wealthier, but creating frivolous things like a fake human speech generator. in communism all the excess
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money all the profits go back to the people in the form of public investments investments, like excellent and beautiful public transit systems. this picture here is a subway station in moscow. it looks like a cathedral and it was meant to they thought the people in our society should be inspired by public works. you want to compare? there's new york's subway. built by the government by the lowest bidder and it looks like a dingy basement. but soviet communism showed off the fact that their system was better. that this is where society should put its excess wealth not so that some rich guy can buy himself another sports car gold-plated back scratcher. well new yorkers who often have no choice but to take public
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transit are in a rat infested dimly lit water leaking dingy basement for their subway. so this challenge to western democracy and capitalism was real and it was on display for everyone to see. and some of the people who saw it were dignitaries from around the world who arrived in new york to participate. this picture is of the procession of the motorcade of england's king george who sailed over to attend the fair? on that day when the british king arrived one million of new york school children were given the day off to go watch the procession. but ultimately because we with the benefit of hindsight know how things turned out this fair. its vision for tomorrow was outdated before it even began.
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in september 1938 a year before the fair opened. british prime minister had gone before the world met with hitler and said this afterwards this morning i had another talk with the german chancellor here hitler and here is the paper. which bears? his name upon it as well as mine. the settlement of the czechoslovakian problem which has now been the cheese. is in my view only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all europe? may find peace.
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it's peace for our time declares chamberlain. he's talked to hitler. we've saved the check checkoslovakia from nazi aggression by coming to this pact and we see peace and prosperity for europe ahead hitler is a man can work with okay, except before the fair even opened one month later both or sorry one year later both czechoslovakia and austria were under nazi control. he violated his agreement lied to the british prime minister and the world. before the fairs end belgium denmark france the netherlands and others nearly half the european nations would be added to that list of having been crushed by nazi aggression. after the nazi takeover of czechoslovakia, mayor, laguardia, led the charge to raise $600,000 to help finish
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their pavilion. despite the fact that the germans demanded it be shut down because the country was under their control now. and ultimately the outbreak of war was a paul cast over the entire fair. when the 1940 season rolled around so and runs for the spring and summer and fall of 1939. it shuts down for the winter and then it reopens for a second year and when that second year came around 10 european countries wouldn't return. those who had worked at the polish pavilion the first country to fall the nazi aggression didn't go back to europe at the end of 1939 why voluntarily return to a country under nazi occupation? instead a few of the staff opened up a polish restaurant in new york city. they had nowhere else to go and no no hope for the future. the most notable nation not to return was the soviet union.
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they ordered that their massive pavilion be torn down crated up and shipped back to russia leaving a gaping hole in the fairgrounds. in this place the americans opened up just a big open space called the american commons dedicated to the perpetuation of an american ideal. but the american ideal might have been real for americans, but the fear was even more real. in boston the dome of the state house, which was this beautiful gilded gold color. when the war broke out they painted it gray to make it harder for nazi bombers to spot if they were ever to attack the united states. the fear was real. after 1940 as as the for 1940 season opened with the british being the last european country
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to bravely hold out against the nazis with london being bombed nightly during the blitz. that british pavilion in new york became a crowd favorite packed with people wanting to show support and learn about britain. in their exhibit they had displayed an original magna carta from the year 12 15 the first time it had ever left, england. and with the outbreak of war the government decided that it was probably safer to leave the magna carta in the united states. should england fall to the nazis. and it would stay in the us secured away in fort knox until 1947. which was probably just as well because it was also in the british pavilion were a time bomb was discovered planted in a back room next to a nazi flag.
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and the police had managed to get this bomb out of the building that was still full of tourists they carried it outside and and started to to work on it before it exploded. killing two officers the case was never solved. the only evidence was this swastika flag planted beside the bomb in the british pavilion. so maybe it's for the best. that is the fair wound down in 1940 despite the the concerns of the organizers and and the their you know idea that they didn't really want this to happen to the fair their glorious vision of the future. instead the buildings and exhibits were dismantled. it's 40 million tons of steel were sent to be melted down and made into tanks. sent to fuel the war effort this world of tomorrow literally
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ended up in the war. and that grand vision of the world of tomorrow seemed to collapse back into the ash heap that it was originally built on this garbage dump. but it will still remain. as we wrap up here, it'll still remain this iconic moment this iconic year that stands out in world history, even if the memory of the fair itself and it's hope for the future as mostly receded into the background. for those of you who want to learn more about the 1939 worlds fair. this is a great book twilight at the world of tomorrow and and do credit. it's a book. i've drawn a lot of information from to help build out this talk. but all wrap up my portion. there are the floor is open for questions so we can continue the conversation we can pull out any things you want to expanded upon or any more fascinating things
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about this world of tomorrow or the world of 1939. so thanks for watching. i'll turn the mic back over to heather who's a moderate the q&a here. well, thank you alan and like alan said, please feel free to continue to put questions in the q&a box on your screen, but we already have quite a few. so i will dive right in if you're all set. absolutely. let's go for it. okay, so someone i'm gonna go back to kind of the beginning-ish of your talk you and mentioned that there were a lot of americans who went to the soviet union in search of a better life. and someone's curious. do we know what became of those folks? did they have to come back? did they stay there? do we have any information about what happened with them? yeah. yeah, we do actually. yeah, so there were huge numbers who went over in the depths of the great depression the soviets specifically recruited people who worked in the automotive industry and the steel industry these industries. they wanted to build up really
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rapidly and and there were many books on this memoirs of people who went over and at first loved it were astonished mainly because like this is a country on the move. it's building rapidly. it's industrializing. there's work to be done the soviet people that first generation seemed like happy and proud and patriotic that they were producing for the future. um, and it was good money compared to what they could make in the united states the living accommodations were great partly because the soviets wanted this partly as a propaganda effort they gave them great apartments and all these privileges, but probably what's most interesting is that there were thousands of african-americans who were recruited to go to the soviet union the soviets were pitching their idea not just as a political and economic project, but as a social project that the soviet union one of their things
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was to eliminate inequality. and so they welcomed african-americans these people who were heavily discriminated against back home. welcome them into the soviet union partly again for propaganda to show off that they're equal here that we're colorblind. we don't care about the color of your skin. we're not racist like those americans and so the most fascinating memoirs are from african americans. there's a book called black on red who talks about how he was like he had a great life in the soviet union at first, i mean, in fact, there's one story he tells of their of the among the white americans who came over and worked in his factory one day they you know, because they brought their racism with them, they jumped him and they beat him up and he fought them off, but the police were called and the police came and interviewed him and he was cowering because like in america you fight a white man, you're going to prison like there's no justice for people of color in america
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in the 19. but he was shocked to see that these russian police officers white police officers treated him with respect questioned him arrested the americans who had committed this crime deported them back to america and made this guy like a national hero in a way. so at first life was great. and then it wasn't so by the 19 late 1930s as a soviets get more repressive but specifically with the outbreak of world war two. there's a lot of suspicion cast on these people a lot by then have left, you know after that initial rose-colored glasses. they start to realize that life and italitarian dictatorship isn't what it looks like on the surface isn't all that great a lot of them were kicked out at the start of world war two, but there were many others like the author of black on red. i believe it's him who stays and meets a russian woman gets married has kids has a you know,
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wonderful life is wonderful as you can under stalinist russia. so yeah, it's quite fascinating because the story we don't often hear about that like and it shows the pull of communism in those early days before we learn about the atrocities and sort of see that actually this doesn't really work as a system. it was really alluring to a lot of americans who were out of work and impoverished and desperate at that time to start a new life going to russia was a thing. great. thank you. okay, so you obviously mentioned that the fair was in queens on a dump site. but someone's curious was this the same location they used for the 1964. fair it was yeah. this is former dump site, which was cleaned up for the the 1939 fair all those buildings were torn down except for one my understandings. they made it into a park between the the years and then in 1964 when the fair came back to the
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united states, they held it in the same location. in fact, i mean, it's plagiarism they held in the same location. they had the same theme instead of the world of tomorrow. it was futurama again depicting this future world of tomorrow. you know general motors came and did this future exhibit, but the the big thing of the 1964 fair is that everyone was obsessed about space travel, um, because that was the hot new technology. we hadn't yet gone to the moon. we'd only just gone to space, you know broken the bounds of the atmosphere. so that was a long-winded say way of saying yes, it's the same location. i'm in both of those fares and to be honest actually some of you who might live in work today. i don't know what became of it after that. i is it a park guy? i don't actually know. well, we'll come back to a couple of things that you touched on in that answer actually, but before i move on someone wanted to know if you're able to talk about the federal art projects involvement in the site. oh.
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not really in that like i can't really speak about their involvement in the site aside from so part of the new deal. the federal government is funding not just building roads and bridges and and setting up, you know, social security nets and and trying to get people back to work. there's a civilian conservation corps. basically, i think it's a hundred thousand people. they send out building public works projects. so at least in on the east coast one of the big projects if any of you have been to the blue ridge parkway or the shenandoah national park, those are built under the new deal projects. there's a bunch of cabins up there that you can rent and they're built by roosevelt and and part of that, you know, we often focus on like the infrastructure building as a way to make work for people but to help out of work artists the government pays artists to go out do all kinds of things to do poetry to do to set up classes
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in communities and teach work to do big murals and paintings around the the country to go out and document stories and and musicians so they pay artists and so i that's leading up to the fair. there are a bunch of art installations and others a building, you know dedicated to artistic pursuits, but i can't sorry. i can't speak specifically to their involvement, you know on a piece by piece in the world's fair. i that i don't know. that's great context though. thank you. okay, so a couple people are curious about the international exhibition of 1939 in san francisco. which do we know is there any connection between the two of them? there are competing world's fairs that year in fact in that opening clip of roosevelt giving his speech which is a guy hereby declare the world's fair and he
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pauses and says the new york world's fair open because there are concurrent fares and i again, i don't know the specifics but there are worlds fairs that are the big events every four to five years and then there are worlds expos that are on off years. so the 1937 paris event that i depicted there was an expo the 1939 was a world's fair and so for whatever reason there's no connection in terms of it's not like the same organization that runs new york also runs san francisco, but they bid for and got an expo the same year the full world's fair was going on and so there was a sort of intercoastal competition, but from you know, what are the corporation that runs the new york is unconnected to the one that runs san francisco by what i understand. wonderful. thank you. okay, so other than the company exhibits so like general
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electric or any of the others did the us as a country have an exhibit or not because it was hosting so the us sets up their pavilion as the parisphere so the big round building there was an image of or they're putting the democracy in it with all the basically depicting the suburb. that's meant to be sort of the centerpiece of the fair and the us contribution the us also exhibits a bunch of its technologies and a bunch of different expo buildings. so like the television the light bulbs these things are on display as the us has contribution because typically what the country's bring are cultural displays feats of science and technology and then products that their country excels at making so the soviets for example their feet of science and technology was they had just recently conquered the arctic they have been doing these expeditions up to the arctic circle with flights and people going up there so they had put a big arctic display up
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with like polar bears and these planes that would win in you know, this wild display of the arctic. are technological feats so yeah, the us does have a sort of a number of different exhibits, but they're centerpieces the parisphere and the trilon the big tower that they that they put up as sort of a visual grandiose thing because like the olympics the host country is supposed to like show off and build these grandiose things and that's what they build in fact one other side note that parisphere was supposed to be engineers so that it looked like it was floating on this fountain that was blasting up underneath it, which would have been really cool, but they couldn't make the engineering work. i'm so it just sat there above above a pond. and speaking of you had mentioned that at the 64 they had rockets and space stuff. so someone was curious if there
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were any aeronautical exhibits of planes or rockets or anything like that at the 39 world's fair. yes, there were so air travel lots of exhibits about that showing off modern aircraft. so aluminum bodied aircraft rather than like wood and fabric biplanes, which is what we really had in the 1920s, but the big like so the aircraft sure the big exhibits the things people were most interested in were trains. they showed how they had a whole show about afra. the name of it slipping my mind, but like showing the evolution of railway travel from the old wild west to these like modern sleek bullet trains. they even had a high speed steam powered train running between i think was baltimore and new york to bring people up to the fair. are so it's these modern trains which are still steam powered although general motors did have on display the newest technology in locomotive, which was a diesel electric train, which is
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what we used today. and if you i should have put a picture up but like it looks like a modern train what you would recognize as like a freight train engine. that's what it looks like. so trains are really big but it's the cars the automobiles and the highways that people are just fascinated. little on space travel a little on rockets rocketry was sort of seen as being like amateur child's play through the 1920s it didn't it wasn't big yet until really after world war two when again hitler overshadows his whole fair when hitler proves in the war with their vengeance rockets that like rocketry can work and i can work as a weapon a really effective weapon. so where the us devotes enormous funding to developing the atomic bomb as our super weapon hitler defend devotes enormous funding to developing rocket engines to launch to cap a bomb with and launch at london. so yeah less about space travel
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that doesn't become a thing until the 1950s when people get fascinated really with it, even though like we know about space ht wells and more of the worlds and all of that but yeah less so about that. great. thank you. okay, so someone wants to know who are some of the maybe now famous architects that were commissioned designed some of the pavilions. is there anyone that stands out or is more of a household name i guess. no idea that someone's clearly interested into architecture. so i yeah that i that that's beyond the realm of what i know, but i mean if we're looking at world's fairs in general in the 1800s, i think it was the 1893 chicago world's fair. there is a big amount of hoopla over the fact that a woman had designed one of the buildings that's in the 1800s. but yeah, i i don't know about architects specifically, but
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they did typically bring in, you know, these architects who built these big grandiose designs architecturally one of the problems was how do you build a building like that? you know gm building 10 stories tall. look, it's amazing the parisphere and trilon build it cheaply because you're gonna tear it down in just two years. so again in earlier days, there was all kinds of problems of like buildings being built really flimsy because again, like i'm not gonna highly engineer this thing it's gonna be scrap in two years. buildings would blow over in the wind and all that. in fact the parisphere the round building in a heavy storm parts of the facade ripped off of it because they were just sort of like stuck on the outside again. you don't need this to last more than two years. so aside from how the buildings are built. i don't know who actually built them. not to worry. okay, so i know you mentioned attendance surging at for example the uk pavilion but
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someone is curious. what was the attendance in general like in 1940 versus 1939. it is many people come the second year. we're not so much. so the attendance of these things like everything that everything like this the projections were wild we're gonna get 60 to 80 million people attending the fair and and they ended up getting i i don't recall how it broke down in each year like 25 million one year and around that or a little bit less the second year the numbers. so one of the things they tried is because they had projected, you know, 60 million people and that's kind of what they needed to make good on their financial promises there the attendance never hit anywhere near what they thought it would and so right at the end i think of season one and certainly in season 2 they lowered the price which did bring in some more people. but again, it kind of would have
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fizzled a little bit the problem with lowering the price was they had pre-sold a bunch of seasons passes at the higher price, and now people wanted refunds because they're think they're getting ripped off and so financially and attendance wise it's became a kind of calamity. they expected i think near a million people on opening day. they got 200,000 and i think 44 million overall, which is nothing to sneeze at but is not the 60 million they needed so there were you know an overall attendance. it was a well. it's not a flop 44 million is certainly not a flop but it didn't reach the level that they had hoped in inside the fair. there was all kinds of competition over. yeah who's exhibits gonna be the best and in season two the british exhibit became really popular right after the invasion of poland the polish exhibit became really popular, which is swarmed with people, but overall the number one exhibit with with
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highest attendance was the general motors exhibit. you know people would wait three hours to get into it it our average about 30,000 people a day riding there. it was a ride you rode through the building to look at this, you know amazing. display of what the 1960s would look like. so general motors takes the cake as being the best attended exhibit at the fair. great. thank you. so someone did ask if it was a financial success and from your answer. i'm assuming it wasn't it was not it wasn't a complete bust but it's very rare like the olympics. it's very rare that these things make money. the corporation had borrowed a bunch of money with the promise of paying it back at certain interest rates and then started trying to convince the people often. it was corporations who got the seed funding in there first and when it was clear that they weren't gonna get paid back but pennies on the dollars, they tried to use it as a pr thing like yes, i support the fair
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because it's a good civic, you know project but yeah financially financially it was not profitable. and what was the public reaction or opinion to the fair? that's a good question because it kind of ties in with the lack of profitability in that one of the public's reactions was that it was too expensive. this is the midst of the great depression ticket prices. they thought were too high but the biggest complaints were that the food prices inside the fair. we're way too high. okay, it's always funny today. they were complaining that a hamburger cost of dime. that was too much money. and so while people were, you know, they were fascinated by this people, you know cried during the gm exhibit. they just it was really overwhelming in a way. people were attracted to the technologies and all of that but you know, it's still the midst of the great depression and
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people complained about the price and the food so much that yeah the the tickets sales the price was cut and then the fair had to promise that later that year. they would have cheaper food options available inside the fair that it wouldn't be such a you know, a money grab so people were cheap. that seems to be like if you read the media accounts, they're complaining a lot about the price of the fair and partly not to say that it was underwhelming but partly the reason they never hit the attendance targets they had hoped is that it just didn't generate the buzz that people had hoped and will never know if that's because the war breaks out and people aren't willing, you know, people are pulling back on their spending aren't willing to go have this fun celebratory thing. it's hard to say. it's funny. it hasn't changed much right you go to you know, disney world and we're still talking all our beer at the stadium or something. yeah. we'll always complain about price of food any who so someone
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else want to know could new york or some other us metropolis make a latter day world fairer expo a financial success or has the magic of everyday electronic technologies and permanent exhibitions like disney world's epcot rendered world's fairs and exposed passe. um no, and yes, i think is the answer there, but it's yeah the part of the reason these things fizzled is they are enormously expensive. they almost never turn a profit. they take it all these resources to build and what really it's become is that countries don't need this anymore. right? like we don't really do this. we don't need a huge exposition to show off how great we are and get all these countries together. i think partly it's become supplanted by the olympics which we have the same complaints about like it's too expensive countries lose a bunch of money on it. then you're left with all this
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infrastructure. you can't use afterwards if things just get torn down so i think that's a big part of it. i think also now in most major countries, there's just not these huge swaths of open land available in the cities anymore, which is where they used to build it, you know and philadelphia they built it sort of in the middle of the city and new york. it's just on long island. um, but space in these places again. these are huge fairs huge unbelievably huge. so i think that's one of the things and i think that person who asked that question is right that like maybe we've gotten jaded or we're just like there's i can't even think of a technology now that excites me the way from what i've read. i wasn't around in the 1960s but like the way that like the space race excited people the way that electronics excited people robots excited people in that way now, it's what like the most exciting thing is virtual reality and the metaverse, which
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is entirely lame, you know, if you ask me i'm not gonna go to world's fair to see, you know, put on goggles and look around and see a fake world around me. i think that you know, and mainly the fact that we have less time life is more busy and there's just such a plethora of entertainment options that i'm not gonna spend two weeks going to a world's fair. to walk around for the day to see things that i already see so that's on one hand that naturally as i'm talking this through. i think even now that it used to be exciting in an era before mass advertising and commercialization which comes up really after the 1950s. it was exciting to go to the fair and go to a corporate exhibit and see general motors cars. i mean, they're just giant advertising platforms. but like that was cool to see all the new things on offer. so yeah, i think it's we've lost our sense of childbike. hope for the future in that way and we just numb ourselves with
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the, you know endless entertainment available and the personal note here is i too when i started researching world's fairs number of years ago was kind of surprised to see that they're still going on the one in and even that like one of the things i study a lot and love the research of his food and the 2015 world's fair in italy. surrounded or revolved around food and as a researcher on this topic. i didn't even know that thing was going on. i might have gone to it, but just didn't know didn't know that right now. there's one going on. so yeah, it's lost. it's a lure and i'm not sure this thing will ever really come back in a big way that inspires people like it used to and speaking of food. we've actually got in a question or two surrounding food from the fairs. so first law how did food displays represent the future of food production preparation and consumption consumption if they did at all. oh, that's a good question.
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i don't know off the top of my head that i recall that they represented the future of food production and consumption. i don't. from what i've come across there is no like futuristic space foods available at the time, especially then it was essentially most of the countries would in their pavilions have cafeterias that highlighted their own national dishes, you know, trying to think of an example. i wish i had sort of flipped through my notes to think of an example of a food that was on display that you could go to a cafeteria and eat the thing i do know is that the problem was often eating in like the national cafeterias was more expensive than eating at the fairgrounds outside the pavilions, and so people complained about that too, but it's more of we're coming to show you our quote unquote foreign foods, i guess. well if i'm finland and coming it's not a foreign food to me, but we're gonna put on our national dishes the fair did make a big show out of out of saying that they're gonna offer
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cheaper hot dogs and hamburgers to the masses, but i i can't think of any yeah food corporation that put on a new display. it was really the big corporate giants like general motors and goodyear tires that set up like it was firestone tires that set up an actual factory to show you how a tire was made. of course, they called it the tire of tomorrow, but you had a working factory, which i guess is cool to look at but it'd be neat if they had food factories, but even then the mechanization of food really hits in the 1950s and after world war two, so, yeah, that's another thing. i i can't give specifics on. so someone excited excitedly put into the q&a the belgian waffle, so maybe that was one well, so that it like one of the technologies they displayed was an electric waffle iron. so yeah, you can use the iron to make waffles and that might have
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been exciting that you can do this in your own home. so yeah that that is a food product on display. um, and someone else said that you always hear about how the ice cream cone was invented for or at the chicago world's fair. are there any that were created? at the 1939 new york world's fair like something that wasn't put on display necessarily but kind of came out of it anyway. um specifically in terms of food, not that i'm aware of it is often world's fairs that sort of launched new food innovations, you know the ice cream cone. the hamburger was launched at the allegedly one of the many origin stories was launched in the 1904 fair where they wanted to take a beef patty and put it between two pieces of bread so you could walk around while munching on it the hamburger before that wasn't really popular in the us i can tell you one of the things the organizers wanted to do, but didn't that
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they wanted to again as a marketing thing wanted to make hot dogs and hot dog buns in the shape of that trilon that that big tri-sided tower beside the round building. that's they were gonna do that as a marketing thing. maybe that would have been cool. maybe hot dogs would be these like triangle shapes today if that had really taken off but you know what comes out of the fair on not on the food side certainly television skyrockets and really takes off after the 1850s the new modern automobiles definitely the highway system that they put on display there, you know takes 20 years, but but becomes now ubiquitous it's how we drive around today on these cloverleafed interchanges and these superhighways even if even with like radar-guided cars with collision avoidance and all of that. so yeah, there are some things that that have stuck around that come out of the 19 of the world's fair.
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all right, so i think we have time for maybe two more questions and then i'm gonna ask you one question after that. that's not necessarily content related, but someone noticed something in your background that they want me to touch on but she probably know what it is. like i can guess. yeah, so someone wanted to know how many structures and buildings are built for the fair are still standing today, and i know you alluded to you weren't sure so if you don't know let me know because we've gotten a few people that wrote in about this. yeah one there's one building that may remained and it was constructed with the intention that it would remain after the fair. actually. i think it's a government building today, but they kept one it was maybe this relates back to the person who asked about architecture. so it's the infamous robert moses the highway builder of new york city who had a hand in designing this fair and he wanted after the fair was over to turn this into a big part much like central park which i
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understand parts of it were maybe even to this day. so yeah almost all of the buildings saved for that one central one were torn down and scrapped which was pretty common in the context of world's fairs. you'd keep like one little centerpiece and the rest gets thrown in the trash or in this case melted down and and made into bullets and tanks some of the countries dismantle their their pavilions. they're made to be, you know easily to take apart and they ship them back home famously, you know, russia i mentioned ships there is back home and they used i'm gonna get this mixed up whether it's the 1937 or 1939, but they always tended to at the peak of the tower on their buildings put this huge bronze statue of a man and woman like charging into the future and communist glory that element is now in a park in moscow on actually on a fairgrounds in moscow. they kept so some countries keep
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pieces of them. i mean most famously the eiffel tower in paris was the centerpiece of their 1889 world's fair it too was meant to be torn down after the fair, but they left it up now. it's an icon of paris so like good for them, but there's nothing really iconic that stayed behind about the world the fair in new york. great. thank you. and it looks like we have a couple new yorkers in the audience because they mentioned it's now flushing meadow park. so anyone who's in new york and wants to go and imagine what it might have looked like back then you should there we go. so, okay. so that's a new part of it at least was turned into a park. so there we go over dog. okay, so final content question. you showed a bunch of different technologies and you might have alluded to the answer to this a little bit but out of the technologies that were showed at the fair which was the most successful in which was the least successful now that have, you know, hindsight. yeah, i mean the television i
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think is the most successful. i mean that of course it dominates our life today and you know, it wasn't invented at the fair as i mentioned wasn't even debuted technically at the fair the nazi speedest to that but this ability to transmit, you know, images and news and everything, uh stalls out because of world war two and then by the 1950s is just you know rocketing so certainly the television the least successful i think is that notion of like flying cars. it's something that they talked about in the 1930s. they certainly play up in the 1950s that this idea is just around the corner we talk about now or flying cars just around the corner or companies working to develop them and it's not gonna happen like so, you know starting in 1939 they were talking about building buildings with landing pads for everyone's private flying car. so the part of the car didn't
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work out the radar, you know the ability for car to track the car ahead of it and speed up and slow down cars have that now? still relatively recent so that took but 80 90 years to come to fruition, but certainly the highway system is as i mentioned earlier the idea of the suburbs that you'd live outside the city and you'd commute in and your private car that vision. worked and part of me as always did this research i wished they kind of would have kept some of these exhibits. i really wish gm and the parisphere the democracy would still you know, they put it in a museum. so we today could go back and look at rather than just seeing it in pictures or reading about it what they thought the future would be because i think if you went through the gm exhibit today, it would look like a lot like today minus the flying cars, of course. fair enough. okay. so now the non-content question someone's just curious if you use the typewriter in the rotary
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phone behind you. the the typewriter. yes, it works. it's the 1926 the rotary phone. no, it works. i would assume i'm using years. but yeah the phone it was my father's the typewriter. i don't know where that one came from. i've got a number of typewriters. so yeah the phone no, but the typewriter. yes, you know like i'm stuck in 1939 on the consummate historian. i use it to write letters to friends and family. so it's it's functional. awesome. well, thank you so much. that is all the time we have for today. so thank you to our audience for joining us and for your great questions and thank you alan for
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>> presidential recordings, find it on the c-span now mobile app or wherever you get your podcasts. hello, everyone, and welcome to tonight's program. and thanks so much for being here. i'm marcia eli. i come to you from the center for bill clinton history of

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