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Today in History: World's Fair Opening 1939

Friday, April 30, 2010

As millions descend on Shanghai for the opening of the world's fair this weekend, we take a look back at New York's 1939 World's Fair, which opened on this date 71 years ago. The theme that year was 'The World of Tomorrow.'

Below is a home movie made from the Fair and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's speech to open the fair at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens.

Cupaloy_contentsThe Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company created a time capsule for the Fair, which was buried 50 feet below Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The contents, pictured at right, included 35 everyday items, 75 types of fabric, seeds, metals, and plastics as well as millions of 'micro files' with literature, current events, and contemporary art. There is a full list here.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt opened New York's World Fair at Flushing Meadows

Special thanks to WNYC's archivist Andy Lanset.

Governor Lehman, Mayor LaGuardia, President Grover Whalen, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I have seen only a small fraction of the Fair; but even from the little I have seen, I am able to congratulate all of you who conceived and planned the Fair and all you men and women who built it.

From henceforth in our history the thirtieth day of April will have a dual significance: the Inauguration of the First President of the United States, which began the Executive Branch of the Federal Government, and the opening of the New York World's Fair of 1939.

Today, also, the cycle of sesquicentennial commemorations is complete. Two years ago, in Philadelphia and other communities, was celebrated the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which gave to us the form of Government under which we have lived ever since. Last year was celebrated in many States the ratification of the Constitution by the Original Thirteen States. On March fourth of this year the first meeting of the First Congress was commemorated at a distinguished gathering in the House of Representatives in the National Capitol. And two weeks ago, on April fourteenth, I went to Mount Vernon with the Cabinet in memory of that day, exactly one hundred and fifty years before, when General Washington was formally notified of his election as President.

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Today in History: Works Progress Administration Passed by Congress

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Michigan artist Alfred Castagne sketching WPA construction workers By an unknown photographer, May 19, 1939. (Courtesy of the National Archives, Records of the Work Projects Administration)

Michigan artist Alfred Castagne sketching WPA construction workers (by an unknown photographer, May 19, 1939. Courtesy of the National ...

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WNYC News

Help Us Find WPA Public Art in New York City

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Usa_work_program

Tomorrow is the 75th anniversary of the passage of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Work Progress Administration. In addition to putting 8.5 million Americans to work, the WPA was instrumental in creating public art across the country. Much of it has ...

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Today in History: Remembering the Day Dr. King Was Killed

Friday, April 02, 2010

Kennedy and King at the White House. June 22, 1963 (Abbie Rowe, National Park Service, in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston)

Kennedy and King at the White House. June 22, 1963 (Abbie Rowe, National Park Service, in ...

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Today in History: Cigarette Radio Advertising Dies

Thursday, April 01, 2010

marlboro20mummy

It was no April Fool's Day joke in 1970 when President Richard Nixon signed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act. The bill required cigarettes to carry the label: 'Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined that Cigarette Smoking Is Dangerous to Your Health.' And the ...

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Today in History: The Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire

Thursday, March 25, 2010

ruins

THE FIRE
On Saturday afternoon, March 25, 1911, a fire broke out in the Triangle Waist Company, a garment manufacturer in lower Manhattan. As workers would soon realize, the building’s fire escapes were deficient, and exit doors had been ...

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The Iraq War: New York Veterans Share Their Stories

Friday, March 19, 2010

This week marks the seventh anniversary of the war in Iraq. On March 19, 2003, U.S. forces invaded Iraq and they are still there, making it one of the longest wars in American history. WNYC's Femi Oke met up with two retired marines from New York who both served in ...

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Today in History: 'King Kong' Released

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Kingkongposter

On this day in 1933, Fay Wray's iconic scream rattled ear drums for the first time, while her co-star's subsequent roar terrified moviegoers. The original 'King Kong' premiered at Radio City Music Hall, receiving glowing reviews.

Kong's love interest, Wray, was dubbed the ...

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Today in History: Edison Patents the Electric Light Bulb

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

edison

While the world is buzzing over Apple's latest product release, the iPad, it's appropriate that we look back at another pioneer of technology, Thomas Edison. Light_bulbOn this day in 1880, Edison patented the electric light bulb: U.S. ...

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Today in History: JFK Delivers Inauguration Speech

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

(photo courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration)

(photo courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration)

Today in 1961 John F. Kennedy Jr. was inaugurated the 35th president. Below you can hear his full speech:

This also marks the one ...

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Today in History: Amelia Earhart Takes First Solo Flight From Hawaii to California

Monday, January 11, 2010

AE

On this day in 1935 Amelia Earhart completed the first solo flight from Honolulu to Oakland, California. According to reports at the time, her takeoff was nearly a disaster. It had been raining all morning, but by late afternoon ...

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Today in History: Samuel Morse Demonstrates the Telegraph and a New Code

Friday, January 08, 2010

morse

On January 6, 1838 Samuel Morse publicly demonstrated the telegraph for the first time. By the 1890s, Morse Code was used for most international communication. Users on one end of the telegraph send pulses of electrical currents, which are ...

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Today in History: FDR Delivers His Four Freedoms Speech

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

by Norman Rockwell and published in the Saturday Evening Post

by Norman Rockwell and published in the Saturday Evening Post

On this day in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered an address known as the Four Freedoms Speech to Congress. The ...

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Today in History: Attack on Pearl Harbor

Monday, December 07, 2009

Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on ships moored on both sides of Ford Island.

Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on ships moored on both sides of Ford Island.

When news of Pearl Harbor broke, ...

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Today in History: JFK Buried at Arlington National Cemetery

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The body of President John. F. Kennedy lies in repose in the East Room of the White House. (Abbie Rowe, National Park Service)

The body of President John. F. Kennedy lies in repose in the East Room of the White House. (Abbie Rowe, National Park ...

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Today in History: King Beats Riggs

Sunday, September 20, 2009

On September 20, 1973, Billy Jean King beat Bobby Riggs 6–4, 6–3, 6–3 in a match dubbed, "The Battle of the Sexes."

Thanks to WNYC Archivist Andy Lanset

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Today in History: Ford Pardons Nixon

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

fordpardonsnixon

On September 8, 1974, President Gerald Ford granted Richard Nixon a full and unconditional pardon.

I, Gerald R. Ford, president of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of ...

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Today in History: Munich Massacre

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Members of the Israeli Olympic team.

Members of the Israeli Olympic team.

On September 5, 1972, during the summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, Arab terrorists took members of the Israeli delegation hostage, ultimately killing 11 Israelis.

President of the Olympic Committee ...

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Today in History: Peekskill Riots

Friday, September 04, 2009

Paul Robeson

Paul Robeson

“It was a huge crowd. I think 10,000 people. A small group of people at the gate were shouting at us 'kikes, nigger lovers, go back to Russia.' There was a policeman there with a ...

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Today in History: Japanese Surrender

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

japansurrenderOn September 2, 1945, Japanese officials signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender aboard the USS Missouri. Here General MacArthur speaks at the signing ceremony.

“We are gathered here representatives of the major warring powers to conclude a solemn agreement whereby peace may be restored. The issues involving divergent ideals and ideologies have been determined on the battlefields of the world and hence are not for our discussion or debate...It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past, a world dedicated to the dignity of man, and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish for freedom, tolerance, and justice....

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