This map plots the settings and references in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

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The World's Fair and 1940s New York

The 1939–40 New York World's Fair covered almost five square kilometers of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens.  Countries from around the world participated in the Fair, and over 44 million people attended its exhibits during two seasons. The Fair was focused on the future – its tagline was "Dawn of a New Day" and it promised visitors a glimpse of "the world of tomorrow".

The Fair was conceived in 1935 by a group of New York City retired policemen, who sought a way to lift the city and the country out of the Great Depression. They formed the New York World's Fair Corporation, and secured offices in the Empire State Building.

The Helicline
Public DomainThe Helicline - Credit: United States Library of Congress

Around 206,000 people attended the grand opening on 30 April 1939.  A key exhibit was the Westinghouse Time Capsule, which was not to be opened for 5,000 years; it included writings by Albert Einstein and Thomas Mann, copies of Life Magazine, a Mickey Mouse watch, a Gillette Safety Razor, coins, Camel cigarettes, microfilm and plant seeds.   Other exhibits included a diner (still in operation in New Jersey), a futuristic car, television, colour photography and nylon. 

At the centre of the Fair were two white, monumental buildings: the Trylon, over 210 metres tall, and the Perisphere, which was entered by a moving stairway and exited via a grand curved walkway named the Helicline. Inside the Perisphere was a model city of tomorrow that visitors viewed from a moving walkway high above the floor level.