The 1933 Chicago World’s Fair in Color

Most of history exists for us only in black and white. As a kid, we had a black and white TV because it was all we could afford. I grew up watching The Wizard of Oz every year in the 1960s and had no idea it was a color film.

At least that exists in color because it was a big budget motion picture; most moving images of pop culture before a certain period don’t—or, at the very least, the color film is hard to find.

I’m doing research for a new book which involves the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. At ages 6 and 7 I spent many splendid hours at the 1964/65 World’s Fair in Queens, where I lived. Of course not only is my memory of it in color, but there’s lots of color film of it available. But the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair is something I only saw in black and white until recently. There are many intriguing photos such as this one.

via Chicago Collections

So it was quite shocking to discover this Technicolor short film (the first full-length motion picture made in 3-strip Technicolor, Becky Sharp, was still two years away). The buildings are painted in a wild assortment of colors. 

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