The 1964-1965 World's Fair gets a lot of attention, but rarely do we look back at the 1939-1940 version, which took over Flushing Meadows-Coronoa Park over two decades earlier. The fair was massive, taking up 1,216 acres of the park—that's twice the size of its sixties sister. It was also the first of its kind to put focus on the future, with the slogan: "Dawn of a New Day"... though they did leave a nod to the past, a time capsule, which will not be opened until 6939!
The fair was put together by the New York World's Fair Corporation, which ran operations out of the Empire State Building and had only formed in 1935, during the height of the Depression. They worked closely with Robert Moses, who "saw the reclamation of the Corona Dumps for the Fair as an opportunity to create a vast urban park in an area which would be closer to the population center of the metropolis."
Around 40 million attended by the time the fair closed, according to LIFE, but it wasn't a huge financial success, and Moses never really saw the area becoming a booming attraction.
Click through for a look at the Fair under construction—at the time, it was the second largest American world's fair of all time. And here's what it looked like once it was open to the public: