View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Saturday, September 20, 2003

The World's Fair

One of Lileks's postings last week mentioned his longstanding interest with the 1939 World's Fair. When the professor in Multinational Finance went through a litany of what was wrong that year, he asked, "how did we ever get out of 1939?" The optimism of the Fair was part of the answer. Lileks also published a link to a longish home movie of the fair, one rell of which which contains this shot:

That's right. It's an inscription above the Jewish Palestine Pavilion (ironically placed right across from the Temple of Religion), with a Biblical promise, "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand lose its power, may my tongue cleave to my mouth..." There was no Arab Palestine Pavilion. Ten years away from being a country, yet the Jews of Palestine were able to produce a world-class display. Does anyone think that the Palestinians of today could do so, or that they'd have anything to show in it?

According to David Gelernter's 1939: The Lost World of the Fair, the opening of the pavilion was attended by 50,000 people, Albert Einstein spoke, and the pavilion itself, while "among the less prepossessing" of the exhibits, was filled constantly, and offered the only kosher restaurant at the Fair, Cafe Tel Aviv.

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