Maps of the 1939 and 1940 New York World's Fair
Getting around at the 1939 New York World's Fair was a daunting task for visitors. To solve this problem, virtually every major sponsor at the event issued a map to the fairgrounds, which helped make getting around the massive space much easier and more efficient. Some even created maps to feature the surrounding areas of New York City and Long Island, making travel even easier for guests from out of town.
The large photograph above depicts a map of the fairgrounds as they would have looked in 1940, published by Rogers-Kellogg-Stillson Inc. The New York City Pavilion, located in the foreground of the map along Front Street, is the only remaining building from the 1939/1940 fair, which now houses the Queens Museum of Art.
Top left is a map produced by Consolidated Edison Company of New York, which was and still is the major electricity provider for the region. Highlighted on the map are several exhibits concerning electric power, such as the "Electrified Farm," "The Court of Flame," "The City of Light," and "The Forward March of America." "The City of Light" exhibit in the Consolidated Edison Building was one of the most popular attractions at the fair. Boasted as "The World's Largest Diorama," it was taller than a three-story building and was as long as a New York City block. The show used music, sound effects, and a synchronized narration to demonstrate how Con Edison provided New York City with steam, gas, and electricity during a 24-hour period.
Top right is a map provided by the Greyhound Sightseeing Bus Tour.
Middle left is a map distributed by Socony-Vacuum Oil Company Inc. As the exhibit for the company was located in Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, the map contains information on the other boroughs of New York City besides the fair's center in Queens.
Middle right is a map of the General Motors Exhibit Building itself and all of the articles on display there. The "Highways and Horizons" pavilion contained the fair's most popular exhibit entitled "Futurama." At this attraction, moving chairs, each equipped with an individual speaker system, took the visitor around a scale model of the future world of the 1960s. Designed by Norman Bel Geddes, it was one of the first introductions to the concept of expressways as a connector of American cities and towns. The new highway system was complete with an animated model of the new America, which contained more than five hundred thousand unique buildings, a million trees of thirteen different species, and approximately fifty thousand motorcars, ten thousand of which traveled along a fourteen-lane multi speed interstate highway. New technologies were integrated into the new economic system of the future, including power plants and artificially grown crops.
Bottom left is a map distributed by Tydol Gasolines and Veedol Motor Oils, highlighting the Petroleum Exhibit.