World’s Fairs used to be a big deal. They were the place to go to see the latest and greatest inventions, discoveries, art, music and more. They were huge undertakings that drew enormous crowds. Even though they generally existed in their own mini-villages of fantastic buildings, they tended to be hosted by major cities who used the worlds fairs to draw tourism to the rest of their attractions as well. Today I have two posters advertising two different world’s fairs only a few years apart.
The Chicago World’s Fair – 1934
The New York World’s Fair – 1939
What struck me most about these posters was how very different they are. Each represents something about the flavor and attitude of the host city.
The Chicago poster is bright and busy and the first thing I thought of when I looked at it was music – the visual cues suggest music in a variety of ways (lines on sheet music, radio microphones, etc.). Music is such a cornerstone of the Chicago cultural identity that this makes sense. The poster even has “hear” listed as something you can do when you visit the fair.
The New York poster is simpler, but evokes the iconic Lady Liberty, who is one of New York City’s most famous attractions. It also gives the impression that New York is a city of the world, with the globe and people moving across the surface of that image to the fair and towards where New York is located. This idea is one that is pretty central to New York thinking (even if the rest of the world doesn’t always agree with it).
I like both of these posters, even though neither tells you what’s actually at a world’s fair. They’re colorful and eye-catching and both carry a lot of the flavor of the place where the attraction is located, which is a big plus for travel ads.