Friday, April 30, 2010

71 years ago and promises of the future

"1939’s ‘World of Tomorrow’ Shaped Our Today"


Jon Snyder

April 29th, 2010


The New York World’s Fair of 1939 and 1940 promised visitors they would be looking at the “World of Tomorrow.” Not everything they saw there came true, but plenty was close. One reason for that was the fair’s own lasting influence on American architecture and industrial design.

It was a futuristic city inspired by the pages — and covers — of pulp science fiction: huge geometric shapes, sweeping curves, plenty of glass and chromium, and gleaming white walls. The fair was the last great blossoming of the Streamlined Moderne style of Art Deco. It was also heavily influenced by the still-rising International Style of such architects as Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

What people saw at the fair, they wanted for themselves. And when World War II ended, the American consumer machine began giving them what they wanted, or at least what they thought they wanted, or maybe even what the marketers thought the public thought they wanted.

The fair also influenced sci-fi art, both in print and in the set design of hundreds of movies and TV shows, continuing to shape our collective notions of what tomorrow is all about.

1939 New York World's Fair [Wikipedia]

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