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Perisphere Pentimento

May 2023
1min read


The 1939 World’s Fair in New York gave rise to all sorts of durable images that are stamped on the American psyche; literally millions of posters, paperweights, and various trinkets still pay tribute to the World of Tomorrow. Here we have an inadvertent symbol but one that is equally captivating: what appears to be a vision of present and future joined is in fact a double exposure, taken, Elizabeth Sterrett tells us, by her cousin with a Brownie box camera. “The older camera styles easily made the ‘mistake’ of double exposures,” Ms. Sterrett writes, “which were usually thrown away. I’m glad this one escaped the usual fate—it’s a nice combination of our cousin with her dog and an exceptional evening view of the fair in 1940.” Nestling up to the looming young woman of tomorrow are the best-known emblems of the fair, the Trylon and Perisphere. At the right, the domed U.S. Steel Building wears its skeleton on the outside, prefiguring an architectural trend by some thirty years.

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