Henry Ford, who had insisted that his company not participate in the 1933 fair, switched gears after seeing the publicity that rival General Motors had generated for its products through its working model of a G.M. assembly line.
The dome, 200 feet in diameter, represents the giant cogs of a set of gear wheels. The building embodies new principles of electric illumination, both for lighting and for spectacular effects. Nearly four acres of floor space are devoted to educational and industrial exhibits. Albert Kahn of Detroit is the architect.
Ford Rotunda by Philip Lyford, 1933-1934
Main entrance is through the rotunda. Here 67 vehicles of different eras show the development of wheeled vehicles from the Egyptian chariot to the motor car of today. Around the rotundaconcourse
is a series of photo murals 20 feet high and 600 feet long.
Middle of the rotunda is the Court of the World, open to the sky. An electrically revolved globe 20 feet in diameter is in the center.
Looking upward at night, the visitor gazes into a weaving mass of colored clouds of ceaselessly changing patterns, from which rises an enormous pillar of clear, white light that under proper atmospheric conditions attains the height of one mile. Twenty-four 38-inch projectors of 5000 watts are used to create the pillar of light.
By all accounts, the Ford Building, with its gigantic globe highlighting Ford’s operations around the world, was the most popular corporate attraction at the 1934 fair.
Brochure, “Ford at the Fair,” Century of Progress Exposition, 1934
Sales Brochure, “Know the Thrill of Driving the New Ford V-8,” 1934
Roof of Safety Exhibit, Ford Building, 1934
Three Ford V-8’s are suspended from the rim of a welded steel wheel of the type used on all our Ford V-8 cars.
Globe in Court of the World, Ford Exhibition Building, 1934
Ford’s centerpiece exhibit, “Ford Industries Cover the World” is a huge rotating globe that identifies the locations of the company’s production plants around the world.
Roads of the World, Ford Exhibition Building Exterior, 1934
Outside of the Ford Exposition building there is the impressive “Roads of the World” display. This large oval track features 100-foot-long sections that resemble 19 world-famous thoroughfares, ranging from the earliest Roman roads to the smooth paved highways of today.