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A Reader in Phoenix Writes

This is the neatest thing: in their June 15th, 1940 issue, The New Yorker published a colorful two-page map of the 1940 New York Worlds Fair. I came across this paging through The Complete New Yorker (for some reason, the map is not listed in the software’s search engine). I mean, look:

Isn’t that the greatest? I now find that the NYer covered the Fair extensively. They commissioned covers and cartoons, wrote about the exhibits and music presentations, and even ran “Talk of the Town” pieces on such matters as broadcasting radio reports of news from Europe at the fairgrounds (they noted with relief when the practice was stopped).

Actually, I happened to be reading Thomas Kunkel’s swell bio of New Yorker founder Harold Ross, Genius In Disguise. Every time an interesting article is mentioned in the book, I make a note to look it up. In the process, I wind up finding other stuff to make note of, until I have too way much stuff to read. A vicious cycle that never ends. Anyway, some other finds:

  • A lively profile of teenage debutante Brenda Frazier by E.J. Kahn, Jr. (June 10, 1939) Frazier was sorta the Paris Hilton of her day, an unpretentious yet glamorous young lady who somehow became Miss Hot Thing of late ’30s New York. Kahn’s profile is actually sympathetic to Miss Frazier and fascinating to read.
  • In 1938, Life magazine ran a controversial yet popular photo feature called “The Birth of a Baby”. The New Yorker‘s takeoff is a hilarious two pager called “The Birth of an Adult” (April 3, 1938) written by E.B. White and illustrated by Rea Irvin.
  • Geoffrey T. Hellman’s three part profile of industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes began in the February 8, 1940 issue. I haven’t read this one yet, but it devotes some space to the Bel Geddes-designed General Motors Worlds Fair exhibit called ‘Futurama’ — ’nuff said.
  • There’s also the profiles which made Harold Ross the enemy of powerful men — former friend Alexander Woolcott (March 18, 1939), the famous Henry Luce profile written in Timespeak (November 28, 1936), Walter Winchell (a multiparter that begun in the same 1940 issue as the Worlds Fair map!), Readers Digest founder DeWitt Wallace (November 17, 1945).

Suffice to say that these stories are from only a short period during the Ross Era. Does anyone else have interesting old New Yorker articles to share? It’s going to be a long winter.

3 Thoughts on “A Reader in Phoenix Writes

  1. Mass Bradley on November 23, 2005 at 12:49 am said:

    The entire issue of August 31, 1946 was given over to John Hersey’s singular account of “Hiroshima”– an incredibly courageous decision by New Guy Shawn and ol’ Mr. Ross.
    It paid off–They couldn’t keep the magazine on the shelves! It was even read, in its entirety, on ABC radio.
    Hersey became a household name, the magazine reinforced its relevance, and millions of everyday readers finally could come to grips with this strange new era of the Atomic.

  2. Matt: The New Yorker map is the coolest thing. I assume that the fair site is the same one that opened a year earlier– complete with astonishing “World of Tomorrow” exhibits. For a glimpse of New York high society during the 1930s and 40s, read the biography of Brenda Frazier. “Debutante: the story of Brenda Frazier”, by Gioia Diliberto.


  3. Mass Bradley on December 1, 2005 at 7:46 pm said:

    The June 19th, 1965 issue is also verrrrry important.
    See this for explanation:

    Hope you’re a fan!

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