A Moment in Time: On the Brink of War

Designed to be everything from an economic catalyst for a Depression-laden New York to a harbinger of a worldwide peace movement, the Fair came to stand for a turning point in history. By opening day in 1939, the world was already in the midst of what was, for most, the second major war of their lifetimes. With some sixty nations represented on the grounds, international participation inevitably reflected the movements of the world at large: Germany flexed its strength; the Czechoslovakia Pavilion became “a monument to a murdered republic”; and Great Britain’s presence transitioned from celebratory to somber. Simultaneously, America’s collective uncertainty began to manifest itself in conspicuous displays of patriotism, from the simply entertaining to the intensely symbolic.