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Map, New York City, Central Park, World War II Exhibition, Vintage Ephemera, 1944


Weapons of War: An Exhibit of the Army Service Forces
Army Corps of Engineers: 1944
Black and white process print
10 x 17.5 inches, overall

Rare souvenir map prepared and distributed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at a temporary outdoor exhibition on the Great Lawn of New York’s Central Park that took place during World War II. Originally scheduled from June 11-24, 1944, the popular exhibition attracted about 600,000 visitors to see displays “contrasting America’s War Equipment with That of the Axis,” as the subtitle explains. It  was published as a two-sided sheet, folded in half as a pamphlet. It opens on one full side as a broadside map of the fairgrounds, showing a main entrance off the 86th Street transverse road. Equipment and tents are organized by unit: The Quartermaster Corps, the Chemical Warfare Service, the Medical Department, the Signal Corps, Ordnance, the Corps of Engineers, and the Transportation Corps. At the far end of the oval exhibition space is a cluster of people surrounding the “Flame Thrower Demonstration,” which was in fact staged hourly before a grandstand seating 2,500 people. Beneath the map is the slogan, “From the Factory to the Front America Shows the Way!” The lower right corner has an drawing of an unrolled page reading “Victory is Dear — Buy War Bonds.”

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The cover bears the exhibit title and comic-book-style illustrations of midair explosions. The back page is illustrated with labeled pictures of the equipment presumably on display: water purification; power tools; a mobile treadway bridge; pontoons; searchlights; crash fire trucks; bulldozers; searchlights; mines, demolitions, and booby traps; and a truck beneath a tarp labeled “camouflage.” Hand-lettered text above a drawing of a European castle states, “3500 tons of engineer maps have been delivered to General Eisenhower’s command for planning the liberation of Europe! 69,602,000 copies of 3132 separate maps were delivered for ‘D’ Day use.” D-Day, a massive seaborne invasion, had begun on June 6 shortly before the exhibition opened and Allied forces were fighting their way across the Normandy countryside to rout the German Army. World War II ended almost a year later, in May 1945.

Billboard, then as now a publication covering popular entertainment, described the exhibition as one of three major events staged in New York City to promote the war effort, especially the sale of war bonds. A front page article describes displays of captured Nazi and Japanese weapons, uniforms, and equipment alongside American versions for comparison. “Besides equipment of all sorts — big guns, tanks, railway coaches and trucks — there are realistic working replicas of battle-area first aid stations, signal corps apparatus and engineering displays,” the article states. “Well-trained soldier-talkers on high pedestals describe the displays.” After being held over for an extra day in New York, the “Weapons of War” exhibition was restaged in Grant Park in Chicago.

Condition: Generally very good, recently professionally cleaned, deacidified, and flattened, with light remaining toning, wear, soft creases. Few minor abrasions and short marginal tears professionally restored.


“1944 Army Corps of Engineers Map of Grant Park, Chicago.” Geographicus. (13 March 2019).

“1944 U.S. Army Weapons of War Map of the Great Lawn, Central Park.” Geographicus. (13 March 2019).

“Three Great Outdoor Shows Sell New Yorkers on Buying Bonds in 5th War Loan Drive.” The Billboard. Vol. 56, No. 26. 24 June 1944. p.1.

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20th Century