Postcard, Trylon and Perisphere from New York World's Fair 1939 World Fairs & Expositions

Postcard, Trylon and Perisphere, New York World’s Fair, 1939
Printed by Paris Art Label Co., Inc., New York
Published by New York World's Fair, New York
5 x 3 1/16"

The Theme Center was the central display of the Fair. Designed by the architecture firm of Harrison and Fouilhoux, the structure was a symbol not only of the Fair itself, but also of modernism. Using huge, unadorned geometric forms, the Theme Center dominated the grounds and clearly established the Fair’s overriding message – that a positive future was possible thorough modern technology. It was formed from three interconnected parts: a 610 foot high Trylon (three-sided, narrow pyramid form), a 180 foot in diameter Perisphere (round globe-shaped structure), and a spiral, 950 foot long Helicline (long linear form) ramp way which linked the first two structures. The buildings were bright white, reinforcing its stark, modern form.

When the design was first presented to the Fair’s president Grover Whalen, he commented: "We promised the world something new in Fair architecture and here it is – something radically different and fundamentally as old as man’s experience…We feel that simplicity must be the keynote of a perfectly ordered mechanical civilization."

The easily recognizable design of the Theme Center made it a perfect icon to identify the Fair on souvenir and publicity materials, such as this postcard. In addition to its role as a symbol, it was a functioning exhibition hall, with the Perisphere housing Democracity, a model of an ideal planned city for the future, complete with freeways and "green" spaces.

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