This blog will be about the New York World’s Fair 1938, specifically about the World War II, the war that happened between the time frame that the war happening. I picked this topic because it’s related to the fair time frame. The 1939–40 New York World’s Fair was a world’s fair held at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Queens, New York, United States. It was the second-most expensive American world’s fair of all time, exceeded only by St. Louis’s Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904. Many countries around the world participated in it, and over 44 million people attended its exhibits in two seasons. It was the first exposition to be based on the future, with an opening slogan of “Dawn of a New Day”, and it allowed all visitors to take a look at “the world of tomorrow”.
When World War II began four months into the 1939 World’s Fair, many exhibits were affected, especially those on display in the pavilions of countries under Axis occupation. After the close of the fair in 1940, many exhibits were demolished or removed, though some buildings were retained for the 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair, held at the same site.
Although the United States did not enter World War II until the end of 1941, the fairgrounds served as a window into the troubles overseas. The pavilions of Poland and Czechoslovakia, for example, did not reopen for the 1940 season. Also on July 4 that same year, two New York City Police Department officers were killed by a blast while investigating a time bomb left at the British Pavilion. The bombing has never been solved, but there is evidence that bombing was an inside job by William Stephenson, a British agent based in New York. Countries under the thumb of the Axis powers in Europe in 1940 like Poland, Czechoslovakia, and France ran their pavilions with a special nationalistic pride. The only major world power that did not participate for the 1939 season was Germany, citing budget pressures. The USSR Pavilion was dismantled after the first season, leaving an empty lot called “The American Commons”. When the fair closed, many among the European staff were unable to return to their home countries, so they remained in the US and in some cases exercised a tremendous influence on American culture.
For example, Henri Soulé moved from the French Pavilion at the fair to open Le Pavillon restaurant, retaining Pierre Franey as head chef.World War II presented additional problems with what to do with the exhibits on display in the pavilions of countries under Axis occupation. In the case of the Polish Pavilion, most of the items were sold by the Polish Government in exile in London to the Polish Museum of America and shipped to Chicago. A notable exception was made for a monument of the Polish–Lithuanian King Jagiello to which Mayor Fiorello La Guardia took such a liking that he helped spearhead a campaign to have it installed in Central Park, where it still stands today.
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Author: Rachel Do
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