May 28, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER
Vote now in the Sweet 16 of Roll Call's Taste of America!

How 1930s America Glimpsed the Future

Two pieces viewers should be sure not to miss have nothing in common, a tribute to the diversity of a world’s fair. The first is the famous Elektro the Moto-Man, one of the first robots in existence. Elektro, a gold robot reminiscent of a heavy C-3PO from the “Star Wars” series, talked, counted and smoked to entertain fairgoers. He was built by Westinghouse for the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

The other striking piece is a painting by Miguel Covarrubias that was commissioned for the Golden Gate International Exposition’s Pacific House in 1939. “Transportation,” a wonderful map of the world with a focus on the Pacific Rim, shows what form of transportation was typically found in each region — alpaca mules in the Andes Mountains, sled dogs in Siberia, merchant ships in south Asia, and a propeller plane, the most advanced technology of the time, off the coast of California.

“Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s” will be on display at the National Building Museum through July 10.

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