The Second World War (1939–1945) was the most widespread, destructive, and consequential conflict in history. WWII & NYC is an account of how New York and its metropolitan region contributed to Allied victory. The exhibition also explores the captivating, sobering, and moving stories of how New Yorkers experienced and confronted the challenges of “total war.”
When war broke out in 1939, New York was a cosmopolitan, heavily immigrant city, whose people had real stakes in the global conflict and strongly held opinions about whether or not to intervene. The attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 brought the U.S. into the war, and New York became the principal port of embarkation for the warfront. The presence of troops, the inflow of refugees, the wartime industries, the dispatch of fleets, and the dissemination of news and propaganda from media outlets, changed New York, giving its customary commercial and creative bustle a military flavor. Likewise, the landscape of the city acquired a martial air, as defenses in the harbor were bolstered, old forts were updated, and the docks became high security zones.