In a determined effort to swell the fair's attendance, while equally increasing the fairgoers' pleasure, planners for "The World of Tomorrow" created two distinctly different looks for the fair: one for daytime visitors and one for nighttime patrons.
The Fair's architecture received decidedly mixed, if not downright disastrous, reviews. Critics called the exposition gaudy, an impressive riot of color, sound and immensity. Others likened the modernistic buildings to something fished out of an alphabet soup. And Lucius Beebe professed that, under close scrutiny, the architecture would act as an esthetic emetic. But once night fell on Flushing Meadows, everyone's opinion changed dramatically.
Suddenly the fair became a vast fairyland of soft colors and quiet coolness; Aladdin's palaces of light and color. According to John Bloog, who attended every world's fair since 1908, the Petroleum Industries pavilion that appeared as an emphatically horizontal structure by day, through the magic of blue lighting, morphed into a Chinese temple during the evening.
In fact, the Fair's designers intended this enchanted transformation of the fairgrounds from the exposition's conception.
Grover Whalen presented the parameters: the color and lighting should astound and stimulate the senses during the daylight hours, but in the evening they would appear both poetic and misty. To achieve this goal of architecture by light, the Fair hired the world's premier industrial lighting designer, Bassett Jone
Chicago's groundbreaking Columbian Exposition in 1893 set the standard for evening illumination. Using a mixture of gas jets and the newly-developed incandescent light bulb, the exposition attempted to make the White City appear by night as it did by day. But the New York Fair would be different from any previous exposition. Bassett Jones envisioned the 1939 exposition as a nighttime canvas awaiting color.