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Queens Chronicle

After the first World’s Fair, a world of demolition

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Posted: Thursday, July 1, 2010 12:00 am

There were probably millions of rolls of film shot during the the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair, the first of two held in Flushing Meadows Park.

Because of their popularity, many photos still exist of this great World’s Fair. There are formal clubs and societies that still collect these photos and souvenirs some 70 years later and study the event’s impact on our culture and society.

However, there are few existing photos of the removal and demolition of all the World’s Fair infrastructure. When it closed in the last week of October 1940, about $75 million worth of construction (in 1940 dollars) had to be dismantled on a deadline.

The World’s Fair corporation entered into an agreement to have everything cleared by April 28, 1941 before returning the grounds to the New York City Parks Department. Missing the deadline, the corporation got an extension to May 29.

Fortunately the New York City building was spared and is now the Queens Museum of Art. The Lifesavers candy parachute jump was dismantled and rebuilt in Coney Island. All that remained from the Westinghouse exhibit was a buried time capsule to be opened an optimistic 5,000 years into the future.

As time goes on the mystique of the 1939-40 World’s Fair continues to grow, even among people born long after it ended, or even born after the fair held at the same site in 1964-65.

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