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.

Quadricycle inside Replica of Henry Ford's Workshop, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

  Details

Quadricycle inside Replica of Henry Ford's Workshop, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

Chicago's 1933-34 Century of Progress Exposition used the theme of progress to encourage optimism during the depression. Ford Motor Company's popular exhibition at the fair included the century room, where fairgoers found a nineteenth-century machine shop, a replica of Henry Ford's first workshop, and the Quadricyle -- the original Ford automobile.

Object ID

64.167.232.424

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

Quadricycle inside Replica of Henry Ford's Workshop, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

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

The Industrialized Barn, Ford Exhibition Building, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois,1934

  Details

The Industrialized Barn, Ford Exhibition Building, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois,1934

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

Chicago's 1933-34 Century of Progress Exposition used the theme of progress to encourage optimism during the depression. Ford Motor Company's popular exhibition at the fair included the industrial barn, where a machine shop and experiments with soybeans demonstrated new possibilities for more profitable farms.

Object ID

64.167.232.437

Credit

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

Location

By Request in the Benson Ford Research Center

Related Objects

Get more details in Digital Collections at:

thehenryford.org

The Industrialized Barn, Ford Exhibition Building, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois,1934

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

Mezzanine, Ford Exhibition Building, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

  Details

Mezzanine, Ford Exhibition Building, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

Chicago's 1933-34 Century of Progress Exposition used the theme of progress to encourage optimism during the depression. After Ford Motor Company opened its massive exhibition building in 1934, fairgoers could peruse acres of industrial demonstrations and informative displays.

Object ID

64.167.232.448

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

Mezzanine, Ford Exhibition Building, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

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

Concert, Ford Symphony Gardens, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

  Details

Concert, Ford Symphony Gardens, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

Ford Motor Company poured resources into the largest, most talked-about exhibition at Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition in 1934. The installation included Ford Symphony Gardens, an outdoor bandshell where fairgoers could relax and enjoy free performances. These concerts and plays broadened Ford's corporate presence at the fair and provided bonus advertising.

Object ID

64.167.232.449

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

Concert, Ford Symphony Gardens, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

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

Concert, Ford Symphony Gardens, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

  Details

Concert, Ford Symphony Gardens, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

Ford Motor Company poured resources into the largest, most talked-about exhibition at Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition in 1934. The installation included Ford Symphony Gardens, an outdoor bandshell where fairgoers could relax and enjoy free performances. These concerts and plays broadened Ford's corporate presence at the fair and provided bonus advertising.

Object ID

64.167.232.450

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

Concert, Ford Symphony Gardens, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

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

Industrial Hall, Ford Exhibition Building, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

  Details

Industrial Hall, Ford Exhibition Building, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

Chicago's 1933-34 Century of Progress Exposition used the theme of progress to encourage optimism during the depression. After Ford Motor Company opened its massive exhibition building in 1934, fairgoers could peruse acres of industrial demonstrations and informative displays.

Object ID

64.167.232.453

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

Industrial Hall, Ford Exhibition Building, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

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

Cork Harvesting Diorama, Ford Exhibition Building, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

  Details

Cork Harvesting Diorama, Ford Exhibition Building, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

Chicago's 1933-34 Century of Progress Exposition used the theme of progress to encourage optimism during the depression. The Ford Exhibition Building, which sat on eleven acres at the fair and featured industrial demonstrations and informative displays like this, became the most talked-about exhibit of 1934.

Object ID

64.167.232.460

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

Cork Harvesting Diorama, Ford Exhibition Building, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

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

Aluminum Ore Mining Diorama, Ford Exhibition Building, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

  Details

Aluminum Ore Mining Diorama, Ford Exhibition Building, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

Chicago's 1933-34 Century of Progress Exposition used the theme of progress to encourage optimism during the depression. The Ford Exhibition Building, which sat on eleven acres at the fair and featured industrial demonstrations and informative displays like this, became the most talked-about exhibit of 1934.

Object ID

64.167.232.461

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

Aluminum Ore Mining Diorama, Ford Exhibition Building, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

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

Child Performers, Ford's Symphony Gardens Stage, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

  Details

Child Performers, Ford's Symphony Gardens Stage, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

View in our Collectionson thehenryford.org 

Artifact

Photographic print

Summary

Ford Motor Company poured resources into the largest, most talked-about exhibition at Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition in 1934. The installation included Ford Symphony Gardens, an outdoor bandshell where fairgoers could relax and enjoy free performances. These concerts and plays broadened Ford's corporate presence at the fair and provided bonus advertising.

Object ID

64.167.232.486

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

Child Performers, Ford's Symphony Gardens Stage, Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1934

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