Fifty years after the Fair

…Is a 1993 song by Aimee Mann about the 1939 New York World´s Fair.

It is a song about the future; the Fair was all about the future.

(The Fair, mind you, was pretty much like Disney´s Epcot Center. Big amusement park built around a lake. Half of it focusing on technology, half of it divided to various nations of the world; large sphere-like attraction as main theme.)

One may surmise the Fair as cozy, cute footnote in History but all in all a failed 2-year entrepreneurship built over a marshland in Queens in steel and plaster. Perhaps so.
Not quite, though, when seen through the eyes of the dwindling population whom, to this day, remembers the Fair. “I have seen the Future,” boasted the button that each visitor won after riding General Motors´ Futurama (the Fair´s most popular attraction) which showed an idealized vision of a future 20 years hence made perfect by roads and the automobile.
Visitors saw the future in the Fair and it was a future dreamed up by the big industries, and they believed in that future.

The futuristic city diorama called “Democracity” inside the hollow heart of the Perisphere (the Fair´s symbol and thematic attraction, a giant sphere joined by a 3-sided towering spire not unlike the Washington monument, called the Trylon) carried no churches in its first year, a fact duly amended once the Fair re-opened in 1940.
Point is, the initial (though probably non-intentional) absence of Religion.

We´re pushing seventy years after the Fair now and we have treaded on the grounds of its Promised Lands: Cross-country highways and phone calls. Plastics. Amazing advances in health care. Television.
Then there´s the Internet and the International Space Station and microwave ovens and cell phones that allow us to call up Bhutan while riding the bus to work (at least in theory!)

I think the greatest sin in the clean, streamlined future world of 1939 would be taking technology for granted, so don´t. Let us not.
Ah. I might have taken the very-personal-route on this one to a point that the post is almost no longer about the Fair, but about the way we see ourselves… but then I guess that´s what the Fair was all about, looking at the present while having our reflection shot to two, or seven, decades ahead.

Hope makes us what we are and what we will become; it´s mankind´s collective will to power being rendered in a CAD-system. It´s television being the foundations of the Western educational system. Technology is our tool, it is our right arm.
We are, however, no longer marveled at the realization of technology and its many possibilities. The sense of wonder has left us in a dreamless sterile world craving for another shot at 1939.
I wonder of a younger, perhaps more naïve 20th century.
I wonder of a different time when we still had so much to come.
I wonder of the world of 1939 standing in the shadow of a second, and more brutal War in Europe… swastikas looming over, well everywhere, then Czechoslovakia falling and its Pavilion in the Fair being supported by an international fund in 1940.
I wonder of the loss of innocence.

…The Fair´s structures were turned to scrap metal for the war effort afterwards and rained hell over Europe as tanks and planes and ships in the following years.