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Photographer Finds 70-Year-Old World’s Fair Negatives

Wandering around the booths of the RINK Gallery in Oklahoma City, Okla., amateur photographer and collector Lynne Rostochile made one her most interesting finds to date: a box of 70-year-old 35mm negatives.

She didn’t know at first what was in the photos. After holding them up to the light to get a better look, Rostochile guessed the time period – the 1930s -- from the hairstyles of the people in the pictures.

But after scanning the negatives into her computer, the picture started getting clearer. At first, it looked mostly like artsy portraits and a few street scenes, but then she spotted the Trylon and Perisphere and realized she was looking at photos from the New York World’s Fair of 1939-‘40.

“I have a big fascination for World’s Fairs and that one’s my favorite because it’s just so beautifully designed and kind of the last shining moment before the dark days of war hit,” Rostochile said. “It was just very serendipitous to find those negatives.”

The negatives also depicted the Brooklyn Navy Yard, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Louis Meyer; and a ticker tape parade for aviator Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan. He became famous in 1938 for flying from Brooklyn to Ireland.

Since buying the box of negatives more than a month and a half ago, Rostochile has been posting the photos on Flickr and asking other users to help her identify the locations of other photos taken by the well-traveled shutterbug. But the biggest mystery is the identity of the shooter.

“I really want to know who that person is because it’s such a shame to take such beautiful photographs and all these people are getting to enjoy them but the photographer isn’t being credited,” Rostochile said.

Gothamist first reported on this story on April 4, 2012.

Can you identify the photographer of the works in the slideshow below?