World's Fair Photographs Series

Biographical / Historical Note

Ford Motor Company began displaying its products at non-automotive exhibitions as early as 1904, becoming a leading exhibitor in world's fairs and other events by the mid 1930s and into the 1960s. In 1915, Ford Motor Company demonstrated the mass assembly...

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Ford Motor Company began displaying its products at non-automotive exhibitions as early as 1904, becoming a leading exhibitor in world's fairs and other events by the mid 1930s and into the 1960s. In 1915, Ford Motor Company demonstrated the mass assembly of automobiles at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, California. In 1933, Henry Ford boycotted the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago and instead held his own exhibition in Detroit and New York called the Ford Exposition of Progress.

Due to the success of 1933 exhibits, Ford joined the Century of Progress International Exposition in 1934. Ford Motor Company hired Albert Kahn to design a building to house exhibits. The building, a circular pavilion which was later called the Ford Rotunda, resembled graduated internally meshed gears standing twelve stories high. Exhibits in that year included a soybean processing display, a collection of new and historic Ford vehicles, an exhibit on the conversion of raw materials into finished parts, an industrialized barn, replicas of nineteen famous highways, and exhibits from twenty-one Ford Motor Company suppliers. A similar large circular building erected in 1935 in San Diego for the California Pacific International Exposition was donated to the city of San Diego after the fair.

For the 1939 New York World's Fair of Tomorrow, designers anticipating elevated roads developed an exposition building that featured a "road of tomorrow." Visitors were driven down a spiral ramp in brightly painted Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln-Zephyr automobiles.

In 1964-1965, New York was again the site for a world's fair with the theme "Peace Through Understanding." Ford Motor Company hired Welton Becket and Associates to build the Ford Pavilion, a rotunda building reminiscent of the original 1933 Ford Rotunda. Walt Disney's design firm, WED Enterprises, was also hired to create a Magic Skyway where visitors boarded convertibles for a twelve minute ride through time featuring life sized audio-animatronic figures. Other exhibits highlighted the international scope of the company.

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Scope and Content Note

There are four subseries in the World's Fair photographs series. Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois subseries, 1933-1934 (1.2 cubic ft.) is comprised of images numbered from 1 to 310. There are also several folders...

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There are four subseries in the World's Fair photographs series. Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois subseries, 1933-1934 (1.2 cubic ft.) is comprised of images numbered from 1 to 310. There are also several folders arranged alphabetically, primarily documenting exhibits. The California Pacific International Exposition subseries, 1935 (1.2 cubic ft.) is arranged numerically, 2 to 671. Dallas Centennial Central Exposition subseries, 1936-1937 (1.6 cubic ft.) is also arranged numerically, 1 to 816. The New York World Fairs subseries contains material for both the 1939-1940 fair in New York and the 1964-1965 fair. The 1939-1940 New York World's Fair subsubseries, 1939-1940 (10.4 cubic ft.) is the largest and includes images both topically and numerically arranged. A numerical run begins with 1 and ends at 3,463 (with a few gaps). Among the topics are typical American families, exhibit details, Ford Motor Company employees and dealers, Ford Day, good driver's awards, visiting celebrities, and special events. There is also an index to the images in this subseries. The final subsubseries, 1964-1965 New York World's Fair, 1960-1964 (0.8 cubic ft.) is comprised wholly of photographs gathered together to create a mural entitled "Decades of Progress" for the 1964-1965 New York fair. The mural depicted the evolution of the Ford Motor Company from its inception into the 1960s. All items are black and white photographic prints, 8 x 10 inches in size.

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Collection Details

Object ID: 64.167.232.0
Creator: Ford Motor Company. Photographic Department 
Inclusive Dates: 1933-1964
Bulk Dates: 1933-1940
Size: 15.2 cubic ft.
Language: English

Collection Access & Use

Item Location: Not Currently On Exhibit

Access Restrictions: The series is open for research.

Credit: From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of Ford Motor Company.

Digitized Artifacts From This Collection

In many cases, not all artifacts have been digitized.
Contact us for more information about this collection.

Baroness Alice Stael von Holstein in 1940 Lincoln Zephyr at New York World's Fair, 1940

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Baroness Alice Stael von Holstein in 1940 Lincoln Zephyr at New York World's Fair, 1940

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Artifact

Photographic print

Date Made

1940

Summary

Swedish baroness Alice Stael von Holstein sits behind the wheel of a 1940 Lincoln-Zephyr Continental Cabriolet in the Garden Court of Ford Motor Company's exposition building at the New York World's Fair. The visiting baroness, who belonged to the Royal Auto Club of Sweden and had driven through most of Europe, was considered Sweden's leading female driver.

Object ID

64.167.232.12

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of Ford Motor Company.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Baroness Alice Stael von Holstein in 1940 Lincoln Zephyr at New York World's Fair, 1940

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Group of Men and Women at the Ford Day Ceremonies, New York World's Fair, 1939

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Group of Men and Women at the Ford Day Ceremonies, New York World's Fair, 1939

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Date Made

16 June 1939

Summary

The 1939-40 New York World's Fair encouraged a depression-weary public that the future would be rosy. The fair also provided the opportunity for companies across the country to advertise to millions of people. Here, fairgoers pose during Ford Day--a celebration of Ford Motor Company, a major exhibitor at the New York City exposition.

Object ID

64.167.232.19

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of Ford Motor Company.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Group of Men and Women at the Ford Day Ceremonies, New York World's Fair, 1939

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What is The Henry Ford?

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Henry and Edsel Ford with the 27 Millionth Ford Car, Ford Day Ceremonies, New York World's Fair, 1939

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Henry and Edsel Ford with the 27 Millionth Ford Car, Ford Day Ceremonies, New York World's Fair, 1939

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Date Made

16 June 1939

Summary

On February 15, 1939, the twenty-seven millionth Ford automobile rolled off a Richmond, California, assembly line. The green DeLuxe Tudor embarked on a promotional tour from San Francisco to New York City and back -- an 8,854-mile circuit. During this transcontinental journey, the famous sedan -- and a visit from Henry and Edsel Ford -- drew crowds at the New York World's Fair.

Object ID

64.167.232.20

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of Ford Motor Company.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Henry and Edsel Ford with the 27 Millionth Ford Car, Ford Day Ceremonies, New York World's Fair, 1939

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The 27-Millionth Ford Car in Front of Ford Motor Company, New York City, 1939

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The 27-Millionth Ford Car in Front of Ford Motor Company, New York City, 1939

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Date Made

1939

Summary

On February 15, 1939, the twenty-seven millionth Ford automobile rolled off a Richmond, California, assembly line. The green DeLuxe Tudor embarked on a promotional tour from San Francisco to New York City and back -- an 8,854-mile circuit. This welcome reception at the Ford Motor Company Building in New York included dignitaries Henry Ford and Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.

Object ID

64.167.232.15

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of Ford Motor Company.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

The 27-Millionth Ford Car in Front of Ford Motor Company, New York City, 1939

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What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

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  Details

Liberty Drill Equestrian Act, Appearing in the Midway, California Pacific International Exposition, San Diego, 1935

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Liberty Drill Equestrian Act, Appearing in the Midway, California Pacific International Exposition, San Diego, 1935

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

In 1913, Henry Ford established Ford Motor Company's photographic department. Though few internal records describe company photography, remaining photographs reveal a wide range of departmental activity. Among many other events, Ford photographers documented the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in San Diego -- where Ford Motor Company's exhibition was the largest and most popular.

Object ID

64.167.232.223

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of Ford Motor Company.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Liberty Drill Equestrian Act, Appearing in the Midway, California Pacific International Exposition, San Diego, 1935

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

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  Details

Drummer for Jose Manzanares and his South American Orchestra, California Pacific International Exposition, San Diego, 1935

  Details

Drummer for Jose Manzanares and his South American Orchestra, California Pacific International Exposition, San Diego, 1935

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

Ford Motor Company poured resources into the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in San Diego, constructing the fair's largest and most popular exhibition. Ford's massive steel and concrete Exposition building included an open-air courtyard and patio where visitors could relax and listen to rumba and dance rhythms performed by Jose Manzaneres's South American musical group.

Object ID

64.167.232.226

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of Ford Motor Company.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Drummer for Jose Manzanares and his South American Orchestra, California Pacific International Exposition, San Diego, 1935

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

VIEW CALENDAR

  Details

Guests of the Ford Motor Company in the Courtyard of the Ford Building, California Pacific International Exposition, San Diego, 1935

  Details

Guests of the Ford Motor Company in the Courtyard of the Ford Building, California Pacific International Exposition, San Diego, 1935

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

Ford Motor Company poured resources into the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in San Diego, constructing the fair's largest and most popular exhibition. Ford's massive steel and concrete building enclosed an open-air courtyard featuring a V-8 emblem-shaped fountain. This group of New York Life Insurance executives posed in the space, where guests could rest and enjoy daily musical performances.

Object ID

64.167.232.228

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of Ford Motor Company.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Guests of the Ford Motor Company in the Courtyard of the Ford Building, California Pacific International Exposition, San Diego, 1935

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What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

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  Details

Portion of the Power Facility of the Ford Building, California Pacific International Exposition, San Diego, 1935

  Details

Portion of the Power Facility of the Ford Building, California Pacific International Exposition, San Diego, 1935

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

Ford Motor Company poured resources into what became the most popular exhibition at the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. This photograph shows the power facility that fueled Ford's $2 million display in Balboa Park, San Diego. Highlights of the exhibit included the fair's largest building, manufacturing demonstrations, a 3,000-seat amphitheatre, elaborate fountains, and special nighttime lighting effects.

Object ID

64.167.232.230

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of Ford Motor Company.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Portion of the Power Facility of the Ford Building, California Pacific International Exposition, San Diego, 1935

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

VIEW CALENDAR

  Details

Visitors in Central Courtyard of the Ford Building, California Pacific International Exposition, San Diego, California, 1935

  Details

Visitors in Central Courtyard of the Ford Building, California Pacific International Exposition, San Diego, California, 1935

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

Ford Motor Company poured resources into the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in San Diego, constructing the fair's largest and most popular exhibition. Ford's massive Exposition building enclosed an open-air courtyard with a V-8 emblem-shaped fountain. In this central area, fairgoers could rest, take in pleasant landscaping or automotive displays, and enjoy musical performances.

Object ID

64.167.232.238

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of Ford Motor Company.

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

Visitors in Central Courtyard of the Ford Building, California Pacific International Exposition, San Diego, California, 1935

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

What is The Henry Ford?

The national attraction for discovering your ingenuity while exploring America’s spirit of innovation. There is always much to see and do at The Henry Ford.

VIEW CALENDAR

  Details