Revisiting the World’s Fair

There are lots of reasons why I am addicted to the Modern Mechanix blog. Aside from the fascinating stories from science of yesterday, aside from the humourously over-sold new products, aside from questionable safety concerns, there is the photography. Getting a glimpse of life from yesterday is one of the things that fascinates me most about all the posts over there.

Recently, they posted the full 26 page layout on New York’s 1964/65 World’s Fair form National Geographic, and while the photo series isn’t as nature oriented as the typical National Geographic spread, the photos are just as interesting. I always find the antiseptic vision of the future from the American atomic age to be particularly fascinating, and the pictures of the City of Tomorrow model (pages 17 and 18 ) really made me smile.

Equally interesting was the bit about the time capsule. Looking at most of the items here, it seems clear that the main focus was to show technical improvement from the contents of the 1939 time capsule, and from that perspective, the inclusion of filter cigarettes would certainly be an example of a technical improvement. But seeing a package of cigarettes in a time capsule to be opened in 6939 made me wonder what we’d put in a similar capsule today that would seem so terribly out of place in 30 or 40 years.

Go check it out … some of the other pictures are amazing. I didn’t know, for instance, that “It’s a Small World” debuted at the World’s Fair … I always thought it was a Disneyland exclusive. The giant US Royal Tires Ferris wheel, shaped like a tire, was fascinating not least because of the fact that such a huge industrial contributor to a World’s Fair only 4 decades ago has almost no presence in the tire market today.

I’m sure that each person, according to their specific tastes, will find different things to fascinate them. World’s Fares have always been a snapshot of what is fascinating or cool about a particular period, and the 1965 version was certainly no exception. This photo-spread is a fascinating way to reminisce about it.


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