The World's Fair That Almost Was and Other Stories of Marine Park
Thursday, June 28, 2018
6:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m.
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A lecture given by Urban Planner/Historian Thomas J. Campanella of Cornell University.
This talk will focus on the largely forgotten history of Brooklyn's Marine Park, an ancient estuarine landscape and native American settlement site that became a kind of "blank slate" for visionary proposals in the early 20th century. Among these was Congressman Sol Bloom's plan for a 1932 Washington Bicentennial Exposition. Meant to be the largest fair ever staged, it would feature pavilions for 46 nations, a Knute Rockne stadium for 200,000 spectators and a centerpiece tower "taller and greater than either the Woolworth Building or the Eiffel Tower.” Though the initiative fell apart, it set into motion a campaign that eventually led to the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Before and again after Bloom, Marine Park was the focus of efforts to build a vast urban playground to complement the passive, pastoral landscape of Prospect Park. Stretching from Fillmore Avenue to Plum Beach, the 1,700-acre complex was laid out as a recreation ground of industrial scale—to tap and defuse the restless energies of the urban working classes, and impart paternalistic lessons of discipline, cooperation and civic virtue.