New York on the Global Stage

Coupon for the 1939 World's Fair on display at The City Reliquary Museum.

Coupon for the 1939 World’s Fair on display at The City Reliquary Museum.

Today’s Flushing Meadow-Corona Park means many things to many people. As immortalized in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the park was once a vast land-filled wasteland called the Corona Ash Dump. Today’s park hosts baseball games, visitors to the Queens Museum, swimmers and many a family gathering. Still, it is perhaps best known as the site of two of the largest World’s Fairs in history.

The New York World’s fairs of 1939/1940 and 1964/1965 took place at particularly tumultuous moments in American history. At the intersection of the Great Depression and World War II, the 1939 World’s Fair offers a look at an unsettled and anxiety filled junction in time. The 1964 fair, positioned in midst of the nascent space-age and political upheaval, offers insight into mid-century notions of progress. The City Reliquary’s collection, which features memorabilia from both fairs, allows us to analyze these critical events through objects. Through surviving relics of the fairs, we can study New York and the way fair planners viewed the nation and the world more broadly.

Let’s start with 1939’s “World of Tomorrow”…

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