Guest blog by Kennedy Pope, Upstate Institute Summer Field School Fellow at OCHS
Object: Pin, campaign
Description: Blue lettering on white background with blue rim
Visitors to General Motors’ “Futurama” exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair were given a glimpse into the future, and a souvenir pin to flaunt their newfound insight.
The exhibit was the largest at the fair, spanning seven acres. Consisting of four structures, it was made to look how they envisioned an urban intersection in 1960. Guests could ride a “carry-go-round” (moving chairs with audio narration) that took them all over the exhibit’s 35,738 square foot diorama, which included over 50,000 operational, scale-model automobiles.
GM hoped that their exhibit would urge people to support technological and scientific research while moving towards the “World of Tomorrow.” They also wanted to show the significant role of automobiles in this future society (“World’s Fair: Enter the World of Tomorrow,” Biblion, New York Public Library, http://exhibitions.nypl.org/biblion/worldsfair).
This pin’s accession record provides little information about its origin, only that it was found in the collection. In my quest to learn more, I came across a photo album dedicated entirely to the World Fair (1997.8.1).
Donated by John and Patricia MacEnroe, the photographs were taken by John’s father, John Waldron MacEnroe. He was a clerk for the Commissioner of Jurors in Queens and an attendant of the court. A New York City resident, he was able to document the Fair for its yearlong duration, and his pictures are a great way to see what it looked like from a regular person’s point of view. There were so many pictures to choose from, it was hard to pick just a few to include!