The Washington Bicentennial
and the Brooklyn World’s Fair That Almost Was
with Thomas J. Campanella
Thursday, July 10, 2014
The Arsenal Gallery
64th Street and Fifth Avenue
Historian Thomas Campanella will explore the forgotten “back story” to the 1939 New York World’s Fair, which began with US Congressman Sol Bloom’s effort to create a great permanent exposition in Brooklyn’s Marine Park to celebrate the bicentennial of George Washington. Bloom’s proposal for a 1932 Washington Bicentennial Exposition would be the grandest fair ever staged, with pavilions for 46 nations, a football stadium for 200,000 spectators and a centerpiece “taller and greater than either the Woolworth Building or the Eiffel Tower.” Despite the backing of the city and Brooklyn civic organizations, Chicago stripped ahead of New York to stage a fair of its own in 1933. Several years later Robert Moses saw a World’s Fair as a means of funding his dream of turning the Flushing ash dumps into a great park. But Sol Bloom had influence yet, making sure his beloved General was a major presence at the 1939 New York World’s Fair—towering over the Central Mall in a 65-foot statue by James E. Fraser.
Thomas J. Campanella is an associate professor of city planning at Cornell University and a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome. He has held Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships and is the author of several books, including The Concrete Dragon: China’s Urban Revolution and What It Means For the World and Republic of Shade: New England and the American Elm, winner of the Spiro Kostof Award from the Society of Architectural Historians. He divides his time between Ithaca and the Marine Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he grew up.
Free. Event seating is limited, to RSVP please email [email protected]