1939 World’s Fair Photos Recently Uncovered in Manhattan Apartment

Historians are getting history wood in New York with the addition of a massive, previously unknown collection to the New York Historical Society’s stable of photos.

The existence of the cabinets full of very rare images from the 1939-1940 World’s Fair came as a surprise to the museum, and augments their collection significantly- adding ten times the number of photos. The images extensively detail pop culture of the late thirties, including many ideas and practices that have since been long retired. Included among the 1939 World’s Fair Pavilions were:

  • Nature’s Mistakes (with an eight-legged horse and two-headed cow)
  • Midget Town
  • The cigarette pavilion, sponsored by Lucky Strikes
  • The parachute jump (which moved to Coney Island)

Marilyn Kushner, of the New York Historical Society, spoke to the NYDN about the new additions to the museum’s collection:

“These photos put a really personal flavor on the World’s Fair,” Kushner said. “It’s a lot of popular culture we’ll be able to glean…”It’s not only what the brochures wanted us to see. It’s a really personalized view of what everybody saw.”

She points out that many of the exhibits wouldn’t be congruent with today’s culture:

A whole pavilion dedicated to cigarettes. Could that ever happen now?” Kushner said.

The Society didn’t say when or where the images would be available for viewing.