Trylon and Perisphere

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Perisphere photo by Leo Husick Perisphere leo.jpg
Perisphere photo by Leo Husick

The Trylon and Perisphere were two monumental modernistic structures designed by architects Wallace Harrison and J. Andre Fouilhoux that were together known as the Theme Center of the 1939 New York World's Fair. The Perisphere was a tremendous sphere, 180 feet (55 m) in diameter, connected to the 610-foot (190 m) spire-shaped Trylon by what was at the time the world's longest escalator. The Perisphere housed a diorama by Henry Dreyfuss called Democracity which, in keeping with the fair's theme "The World of Tomorrow", depicted a utopian city-of-the-future. The interior display was viewed from above on a moving sidewalk, while a multi-image slide presentation was projected on the dome of the sphere. After exiting the Perisphere, visitors descended to ground level on the third element of the Theme Center, the Helicline, a 950-foot-long (290 m) spiral ramp that partially encircled the Perisphere.


The name "Perisphere" was coined using the Greek prefix peri-, meaning "all around", "about", or "enclosing". The name "Trylon" was coined from the phrase "triangular pylon". [1]


Trylon, Perisphere and Helicline photo by Sam Gottscho 1939fairhelicline.jpg
Trylon, Perisphere and Helicline photo by Sam Gottscho
Model for Trylon and Perisphere (1938) Model, Theme Center - New York World's Fare - 1939, c. 1938, Harrison & Fouilhoux.JPG
Model for Trylon and Perisphere (1938)

The Theme Center was designed by architects Wallace Harrison and J. Andre Fouilhoux, with the interior exhibit by Henry Dreyfuss. The structures were built in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, New York and were intended as temporary with steel framing and plaster board facades. Both buildings were subsequently razed and scrapped after the closing of the fair, their materials to be used in World War II armaments.[ citation needed ]


The Trylon and Perisphere became the central symbol of the 1939 World's Fair, its image reproduced by the millions on a wide range of promotional materials and serving as the fairground's focal point. [2] The United States issued a postage stamp in 1939 depicting the Trylon and Perisphere (pictured). Neither structure survives; however, the Unisphere, the symbol of the 1964–65 New York World's Fair, is now located where the Perisphere once stood.

Trylon and Perisphere on US stamp from 1939. US 853.jpg
Trylon and Perisphere on US stamp from 1939.

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  1. "1939-40 NY World's Fair found in Seattle". 22 June 2015. Retrieved 11 January 2022.
  2. Harrison, Helen A. (October 1995). "Stuart Davis's 'World of Tomorrow'". American Art . 9 (3): 96–100. doi:10.1086/424253. S2CID   161257447.
  3. The Odyssey of Flight 33

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Coordinates: 40°44′47″N73°50′42″W / 40.7463°N 73.8451°W / 40.7463; -73.8451