Parsons

Student Work

  • History of Design and Curatorial Studies (MA)

    Rachel H. R. Hunnicutt

    Re-evaluating the Autofare: Chrysler’s Carnival Spirit at the New York World’s Fair 1964–1965

    Re-evaluating the Autofare: Chrysler’s Carnival Spirit at the New York World’s Fair 1964–1965

    The Giant Car on Imagination Island, 1965, design directed by Irving Harper of George Nelson Associates. Chrysler Corporation Autofare, New York World's Fair 1964–1965. Image courtesy of CurbsideClassic.com.

    While much has been written about the New York World’s Fair 1964–1965, Chrysler Corporation’s pavilion has received little attention from scholars of world’s fairs and design history alike. Designed by Irving Harper of George Nelson Associates, the Autofare, as the pavilion was called, was a “fair within a fair,” a miniature theme park wherein bright colors, exaggerated proportions, and punny corporate exhibitry emphasized amusement over edification and specifically sought to reach a new generation of consumers in the postwar period: children. This thesis, a case study of the Chrysler Autofare, offers an in-depth analysis of the pavilion’s influences, creators, architecture, and reception and sheds light on its relevance to design history and cultural history. In so doing, it undertakes a study of the pavilion’s built environment, using the New York World’s Fair Corporation 1964–1965 records at the New York Public Library, unpublished material from the Irving Harper collection at Herman Miller, and the rich online repository of images, marketing material, and reminiscences of contributors to world’s fair collector-historian Bill Young’s online archive, NYWF64.com. It aims to provide a rich context for and documentation of the pavilion’s design in order to reveal the ways in which child’s play, pop design, and the mechanical sublime coalesced at the Autofare. This research will, it is hoped, serve future scholars and provide starting points for further research regarding the ideas and aesthetics the Autofare encapsulated.
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