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The Nash Glass Tower Display – A Century of Progress Exposition

nash glass tower century of progress

Updated – Manufacturers of all types including the automakers were struggling during the early-1930s to survive the Great Depression and the long and severe financial slump that was a part of it. The 1933-’34 “Century of Progress” (World’s Fair) staged on the waterfront in Chicago, Illinois, proved to be a glimmer of hope to the nation during the trying economic times.

Seeking to keep or enlarge their market share, all of the automakers participated with many constructing lavish palaces showcasing their products. Nash, an independent with a small budget perhaps trumped some of the “Big Three” with an imaginative exhibit constructed by the Whiting Corporation. It was essentially similar to the new traveling “vertical parking lots” (see a video below) just beginning to be constructed at the time; it was surrounded by a lavish plate glass enclosure.

1933 nash deluxe eight

  • 1933 Advanced Eight Convertible Sedan “Saturday Evening Post” ad courtesy of Alden Jewell. 

The double-sided exhibit was 80-feet tall and displayed a mixture of eight of the six and eight-cylinder Nash models on each side; the base of the “Tower” contained a showroom where visitors could view each car as it traveled on an endless loop through the display. At night, the brightly lit structure was accented by colored lights near the base.

1933 Nash Eight Conv. Roadster          1933 Nash Anbassador Eight           1933 nash advanced eight             1933 Nash Eight 5-Pass Brougham

  • 1933 Nash Eight sales brochure illustrations courtesy of “The Old Car Manual Project.”

Earlier “Century of Progress” coverage on The Old Motor of the vehicles and displays and our most recent article Harry Hartz Filmed At Speed at the Chrysler exhibit will give you more information about the exposition. The colored illustration (at the top) is via American Classic. The image (below) by Kaufmann & Fabry Co., Official Photographers at the Fair is courtesy of the Chicago History Museum where you can view and purchase 100s of interesting photos. View more of the 1933 Nash “Eight” sales brochure illustrations at The Old Car Manual Project. 

nash glass tower 2

11 responses to “The Nash Glass Tower Display – A Century of Progress Exposition

  1. That Nash display is one piece of engineering. ( kind of like those moving jewelry display cases.) I’ve seen Harley dealers that have vertical displays like that, but not moving. I’ve read about those parking structures before. I believe, they were unreliable and I’m sure there were many a “car jockey” story, of having to climb up there to see what went wrong.

    • Hi Howard. I’m kind of mesmerized by that tower too. I sort of doubt that it would’ve held up out in the Chinook Belt. An 80 mph gust of wind just might change that display from vertical to horizontal.

  2. The vertical parking garage (incl., I believe, the one in the video) was developed by Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company in the late 1920s/early 1930s. I have some photos and a brochure on these units.

    I have always suspected that the Nash unit was an adapted Westinghouse unit but have never been able to compare the mechanism. Would love to know what Whiting Corporation’s role was. Were they merely a construction company, or were they an engineering firm?

  3. It looks like the replica of The Stourbridge Lion, the first steam engine locomotive to run on rails in America (August 8, 1829) is at the right of the photo. The “Loree,” Delaware & Hudson No. 1403 , the fourth and last of the 4-8-0 locomotives built by D&H, is behind the “Lion.” The “Loree” was put in service in April 1933.

  4. I recently saw an endless-loop car display like this at Audi’s museum in Ingolstadt. From your photo, it appears that there are sixteen cars, eight on each side. The color rendering appears to have been done from a verbal description, since there is no machinery apparent.

  5. I am curious whether this is the same Whiting Corporation that still manufactures industrial lifting jacks and gantry cranes in Monee Illinois. We use their products to lift locomotives. Neat concept I just hope the vehicle above mine isn’t leaking oil or brake fluid…

  6. I license film clips to documentary, TV show, and movie productions. I have a clip of this film for licensing on Getty Image. It comes from a short film I have featuring scenes from the 1933-34 World’s Fair.
    Thought you might enjoy seeing some actual motion picture footage even though it’s pretty brief —-Todd Ruel

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