For the Love of Good Design

The Worlds of Tomorrow: Modernity at the World’s Fairs

The Worlds of Tomorrow: Modernity at the World’s Fairs

Did you go to the Fair? Over 55 million people traveled to New York for the World’s Fair in 1964 and 1965. If you weren’t there, we’re sure someone you know did. Who could resist seeing the whole world brought together in one, happy, illuminated spectacular!

You could ride “It’s a Small World” in the Pepsi-Cola building, tour GM’s “Futurama II,” or see Michelangelo’s Pietà in the Vatican Pavilion. Visitors tried falafel for the first time, and sampled a new American favorite: the Belgian waffle! Many just came to stroll the grounds and people-watch. The sights, the sounds, and the experiences were like no other.

Peace Through Understanding

Set in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, this grand display of international harmony and innovation picked up where the 1939 New York World’s Fair had left off. In 1940, that Fair had closed with the start of World War II. The “World of Tomorrow” promised by the organizers had not come to fruition. Yet one of its original planners, the legendary New York businessman Robert Moses, envisioned something greater for a new modern era in the postwar, atomic age. He envisioned a world-in-miniature that could promote something everyone needed in the 60s: “Peace Through Understanding.” This theme unified the pavilions, displays, and restaurants of the 80 nations who participated. It truly was a utopian vision of a perfect world and everyone could take part.

Image courtesy of Forgotten New York

Take a Ride

Some of the most popular displays at the Fair included Eero Saarinen’s IBM Pavilion, the Space Park, the Underground House, and “Futurama II,” the vision of an urban future first presented by GM at the 1939 World’s Fair. The ‘64 update showed the cities of the future with a particular 60s style to the towering high-rises or deep-sunken sea colonies. There was even a lunar city. All were unified through advances in transportation would look familiar to viewers of the popular 60s TV show, The Jetsons.

Image courtesy of

The 1964 World’s Fair also gave Walt Disney the space to develop some of the technological and entertainment wonders that would go on to be the classics of his theme parks. Pepsi-Cola hired him to create a ride-through display that promoted UNICEF. He gave the world “It’s a Small World.” For General Electric, he created the groundbreaking animatronic show, “The Carousel of Progress.” And his “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” for the State of Illinois would lay the groundwork for Walt Disney World’s Hall of Presidents.

Image courtesy of Trip Savvy

Expo 2020

On October 20, 2020, Dubai is set to open Expo 2020, an exhibition of international ingenuity and collaboration rooted in this centuries-old tradition of world’s fairs. The exhibition’s theme is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” and promises the newest technologies, most jaw-dropping architecture, and, of course, the most incredible food. It promises to be “The World in One Place” and it certainly will be.

Image courtesy of Expo 2020

And if your plans include a World’s Fair this Fall, don’t forget to pack your favorite Graymoor Lane designs. Good design is always in style and the Fairs are all about showing it off! We recommend sporting the Star Wall collection. Light, radiance, and illumination have been hallmarks of the World’s Fairs from the beginning and Expo 2020 will be no different.

And don’t forget to send us a postcard!

Star Wall Collection



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